Warming up muscle groups is an essential element to any workout. A quality warm-up can prevent injuries and helps the body perform at a high level of intensity. Kettlebells offer a great way to warm up the muscles, and don’t require a lot of space to store around the house. Movement preparation is a style of dynamic warm-ups that activate different muscle groups at the same time. These types of exercises will increase circulation and activates the body in preparation for physically demanding activities. Here are five great kettlebell exercises that will ensure you have a great workout every time:
(demo in link)
Muscle Groups - Shoulders, upper-back
Movement - Holding the kettlebell like a steering wheel, with the hands on both sides of the grip and the weight on-top, rotate the weight around your head. Focus on keeping your chin up, elbows in, and stand tall. Then, slowly rotate the kettlebell counterclockwise around the neck while also rotating the weight so that the wrists do not bend. The forearms should rub across the top of the head during this motion. Halfway through the action, the kettlebell should be in the middle of the back with the weight below the handles and elbows pointed to the sky. Users should feel the sensation of the weight pulling down on their shoulders at this point. Without pausing, continue moving the kettlebell in the same direction until it is back at the starting position. Try five to ten rotations in one direction, and then perform the operation in the opposite direction.
Focus - Keep the kettlebell as close to the neck as possible to enhance shoulder mobility.
Repetitions - 5 to 10 on each side
2. Arm Bar
(demo in link)
Muscle Groups - Shoulders, thoracic spine, abdomen
Movement - Start by lying flat on your back with a light-weight kettlebell in the right hand, and the arm fully extended above the body. Slowly rotate onto your stomach, while keeping the kettlebell in the same position. This motion requires the shoulder to rotate, with the right leg driving the torso into the roll. Next, drive the right knee to the ground, with the leg bent at a 90-degree angle, and the head resting on the left bicep. After the hips are flush with the ground, flex the shoulder blades to maintain the balance, and begin to extend the legs as far as possible, until both knees are locked and the toes are pointed. While in this position, concentrate on breathing and flexing the glutes, while feeling a stretch across the chest and thoracic spine. Allow the shoulder blades to pull in, towards each other, but do not “shrug”. Hold this position for five deep breaths, and slowly reverse the movement to come back to original position. Slowly lower the kettlebell while flat on your back, and safely halo to the other side to repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.
Focus - Maintain the weight’s center of balance while the arm is fully extended
Repetitions - 3 to 5 on each side
3. Goblet Squat
(demo in link)
Muscle Groups - Quadriceps, abdomen
Movement - Grab the kettlebell by the horns, and hold it close to your chest. Spread your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointing out at a 45-degree angle for balance, and keep the chin up. Slowly lower the body while keeping the back straight and your eyes forward, until your hamstrings are as close as possible to your calves. Concentrate on extending the buttocks out, and keep the back as straight as possible. At the lowest point, pause for two or three full breaths, and use your elbows to gently push the knees out. Keeping the back straight and the abdomen tight, stand up from this position to return to the original stance.
*note: jumping vertically three times in a row and then looking down is a good way to identify how far apart the feet should be during this exercise
Focus - The feet should stay flat on the floor during this entire exercise
Repetitions - 10 to 20
4. Cossack Squat - goblet grip
Muscle Groups - Glutes, inner-thighs, quadriceps, hip flexibility
Movement - Holding the kettlebell with a straight spine, stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width, and place your left foot facing out with the toes pointed to the sky. Keeping the left knee straight, slowly squat with the right leg while concentrating on keeping both heels on the floor. Go down as far as possible, and then slowly stand up to the original position before switching sides.
*note: if you struggle to keep the left leg straight, then try widening the stance slightly
Focus - Keep the foot of the squatting leg flat on the ground
Repetitions - 5 to 10 on each leg
5. Good Mornings - modified
Muscle Groups - Glutes, lower back, hamstrings, hip flexibility
Movement - Hold the kettlebell at waist level, and stand tall with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. As you inhale, bend at the hips, and push the buttocks back as you descend, until the torso is about 15-degrees above the horizon. Hold the position for one full breath, and return to the original position by concentrating on flexing the glutes while pushing the hips forward.
Focus - Keep the back straight for the duration of the movement. Push the hips back as the upper body moves forward, and bring the hips forward when returning to the original position
Repetitions - 5 to 10
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