Kettlebells offer a fun, full-body supplement to cardio

December 19, 2013

There are not many pieces of equipment as small as a kettlebell that can deliver quite the caliber of a full-body workout.

Kettlebells are cannon-ball shaped spheres made of iron with a handle attached that can provide an excellent source of cross training for people who love cardio workouts on their home treadmills and stationary bikes. However, a common misconception is that kettlebell workouts are reserved for bodybuilding men trying to seriously bulk up.

The truth is that kettlebell workouts are a great option for all people interested in fitness. Strength training is crucial for anyone who runs on a True PS100 Home Treadmill or a True PS300 Home Elliptical Trainer because strong leg muscles give you more power and a strong core helps you maintain excellent posture and avoid injury.

When it comes to designing an in-house gym, cardio machines are home fitness equipment staples, but you may not want to crowd the space with bulky weight machines. Instead, invest in kettlebells in different weight sizes. You’ll increase the variety of exercises you can do without taking up too much space.

“If you only have 30 minutes a day to commit to exercise, the kettlebell is an all-in-one, hand-held gym,” Steve Cotter, founder and director of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, told Reuters.

Cotter also noted that incremental progression is the key to successful kettlebell training, so it’s best to start off with lighter weights and focus on a couple of basic moves, then add in heavier bells and more challenging exercises over time.

During a kettlebell workout, you’re constantly in motion, requiring the use of muscles throughout the body, from head-to-toe. Even if you’re focusing on one specific muscle group, the rest are working to stabilize and control the movements, which is why you can get an efficient workout in in a shorter time period. That’s especially important for busy people who don’t always feel they have a lot of time to devote to exercise, but still want results.

Basic kettlebell exercises to improve cardio workouts
Two-handed kettlebell swing:
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, holding the kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Lower down into a squat position, keeping your core muscles tight and chest lifted. Push back up and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height while maintaining a slight bend in the elbows, then return to the starting position. Repeat for three sets of eight to 10 reps. This exercise works the core, arm, quad and calf muscles.

Goblet squat: Stand with feet a little wider than hip-distance apart, toes slightly turned out while holding the kettlebell at chest level with bent elbows. Lower into a squat like you’re sitting back onto a chair, keeping your chest upright and core tight. Think about trying to bring your elbows down to your knees (or as close as you can). Pause momentarily at the bottom of your squat, then push back up to the starting position. Repeat for three sets of 10 to 12 reps. This exercise works the quads, calves and core muscles.

Kettlebell deadlift: Stand with feet hip​-distance apart, hold the kettlebell in both hands like you did for the swing. Squeeze your core and glute muscles tight, stick your butt out and with a flat back, lower the kettlebell toward the floor until your hips are hinged at about 90 degrees. Keeping your back flat and your core and glute muscles tight, raise back up to the starting position. Repeat for three sets of eight to 10 reps. This exercise works the hamstrings, glutes and core muscles.