It can be tough to figure out what exercises you should be doing to get the most bang for your proverbial buck. Especially when it comes to an implement like a kettlebell.
For many of us, the kettlebell is a new idea. In a previous article, I wrote about why it’s important to put kettlebells into your workout if you haven’t already.
And any time you’re jumping into something new, it can be hard to figure out what exercises you might want to do in order to achieve your given goals.
I want to make that as easy as possible for you by showing you 3 high-impact kettlebell exercises. These 3 in particular will move you toward just about any fitness goal you’re trying to achieve.
Basic Human Movements
When it comes to exercise, there are 6 basic human movements that we do in order to achieve our fitness goals. Think of these movement categories as different types of animals. You can distinguish an animal by calling it a cat or bird or dog. But then there are different breeds within these animal categories such as parrot or tabby or husky.
For exercises, there are the 6 basic movements, and then there are the exercises that fit within those movements. The 6 basic movements are:
- Everything Else
If you break down any exercise, it will likely fit into one of these 6 categories (side note: if an exercise doesn’t fit into these categories, you probably shouldn’t do it).
The word for each movement basically explains what exercises fit into that category. Push movements, for instance, is an exercise in which you are pushing weight away from you or pushing yourself away from something. Adversely, pulling would be any exercise where you’re pulling weight toward you or pulling yourself toward something. As an example, for a “Push” exercise, think pushups. For a “Pull” exercise, think pullups.
For the majority of fitness goers, our goals are pretty simply:
- Lose weight
- Move better
- Feel better
- Look good naked
So, then, when it comes to choosing exercises, we should be picking those exercises that are moving us toward these goals as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Choosing High-Caliber Exercises
Now that we understand a bit about movement, which one of these movement groups is going to give us the most impact? Considering our goals mentioned above (assuming you fit into one of these goal-catgories), we’re going to focus on 3 particular movement groups:
- Everything Else
The “carry” group is another spectacular group that many people miss out on, but I could write a whole article about that (coming soon).
The reason that we’re choosing to focus on these 3 movement groups is 3 fold:
- Exercises in these groups are compound exercises. That means that they require more than one body joint to perform the movement. The same can be said for push, pull, and carry exercises, but these categories don’t follow the next 2 reasons…
- Exercises in these groups use multiple BIG muscle groups. I emphasize the word BIG because, any time you use BIG muscle groups, your body has to pump a lot of oxygen. And when you’re pumping a lot of oxygen, you’re typically burning lots of calories!
- Most people stay away from these types of exercises because…well…they’re harder. A curl is easy to do, so a lot of people do them. A squat, on the other hand, takes more effort. Therefore, less people do them. This is why you see the guy walking around the gym with a Tarzan upper body and tooth pick legs.
Now that we know what movements we’re going to focus our attention on, and why, let’s check out which exercises we’re going to pick to fit into these categories.
The Top 3 Kettlebell Exercises
Clearly, the goblet squat fits into the “Squat” category for movements. This exercise is great for a number of different reasons. First, squats can be intimidating because when most people think of squats, they think of a powerlifter with heavy weights on their back.
On the contrary, with a goblet squat, you simply hold a kettlebell “goblet” style (like holding a goblet) on the front of the body. The distribution of the weight in the front verse the back of the body allows you to keep your shoulders up more easily so that you don’t round your back.
Are you wanting to make this a little harder? Try the double kettlebell front squat:
With the 2 kettlebell hold, you can carry a bit more weight while still having the distribution in the front of the body.
This is another high-impact exercise. The kettlebell swing fits into the “Hinge” category of basic human movements.
This exercise is important because, as we age, we lose power in our hips and glutes. And this is a great exercise to increase the power and strength of your glute muscles.
Not to mention, you’ll have a great butt for swimsuit season.
If you’re ready to take this up a notch, try single arm kettlebell swings instead:
For simplicity sake, I’ll refer to this exercise as “getup” from now on. The getup fits into the “Everything Else” category of human movements. That is because, it’s not just a squat or a hinge or a push. The getup is a combination of…well…everything.
This is a fantastic exercise for core stability and overall body strength. And, if you’re looking to burn some serious calories, try doing 3-5 sets of 3 full getups. YIKES!
As your implementing these exercises into your routine, be sure to focus on you form first. Once you feel comfortable with that, you can gradually move up in weight.