Fitness is a vital part of any overall wellness regimen, though it should follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, rather than take the place of it.
There are hundreds of options for improving your fitness, from gyms and weights, running, swimming, and numerous others. Not all workout options are the best for everyone.
Since I have approximately zero hours of free time to drive to a gym, get dressed, work out, take a shower, get dressed again and drive home, I had to find a fitness routine that could be done easily from home and didn’t require a lot of specific equipment.
Enter the Kettlebell Fitness Routine
In my opinion, the kettlebell is the best all-around option for fitness from home as it requires minimal equipment (a kettlebell), minimal space, and can be considered both strength and cardiovascular exercise.
It also works really well for achieving fitness fast. So what exactly is a kettlebell? As this article explains:
A ‘Kettlebell’ or girya, as it is called in Russian, is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. It is the ultimate tool for extreme all-around fitness.
The kettlebell has been used for hundreds of years. It first appeared in a Russian dictionary in 1704 (Cherkikh, 1994). Kettlebells were so popular in Tsarist Russia, that any strongman or weightlifter was referred to as a girevik, or ‘a kettlebell man.’
- The kettlebell develops all purpose strength
- Blends strength with flexibility
- Hacks the fat off
- Improves physique
- Get strong anywhere, anytime- it’s an extreme hand held gym
In the name of full disclosure… kettlebell workouts are HARD, but that is why they are so effective. Because of the combination of strength and high intensity cardio, even the most seasoned athletes have trouble lasting five minutes when switching to kettlebells.
If you don’t mind a challenge and want maximum results with minimum time, I highly recommend kettlebells. I don’t encourage doing any activity just because other are doing it, but a number of celebrities have spoken publicly about their use of kettlebells… you judge the results:
- Grey’s Anatomy star: Katherine Heigl
- Sex in the City Star: Kim Cattrall
- Jennifer Lopez
- Penelope Cruz
- Lance Armstrong
- Mariska Hargitay
- Sylvester Stallone, Claire Danes
- Ethan Hawke
- Matthew McConaughey
- Most of the cast from the movie “300″
Are Kettlebells the Best Exercise?
For women especially, kettlebells give strength and tone without adding bulk. Men typically see rapid strength improvements.
The American Council on Exercise did an independent study on kettlebell workouts that found that:
During the 20-minute workout, the average calorie burn was 272 calories, not counting additional calorie burn due to the substantial anaerobic effort.
We estimated oxygen consumption and how many calories they were burning aerobically, and it was 13.6 calories per minute. But we also measured the blood lactate, so anaerobically they were burning another 6.6 calories per minute,” explains Porcari. “So they were burning at least 20.2 calories per minute, which is off the charts. That’s equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace. The only other thing I could find that burns that many calories is cross country skiing up hill at a fast pace.
If you decide to give kettlebells a try, here is a video demonstrating the basic kettlebell movement, the swing:
Tim Ferris also explains how to do kettlebell swings in video and written format. In his research, it only takes 75 swings 2-3 times a week to achieve optimal results (less than 30 minutes a week total!).
Do you have time for that?
The best kettlebells I have found are these basic ones, though they can usually be found in most fitness type stores (though I haven’t seen the big weights in most places). Kettlebell workouts are even safe for pregnant women in most cases, and make delivery easier, in my experience.
My Kettlebell Workout
I have the 12 kg (26 lb) and 16 kg (35 lb) kettlebells and use the 16kg for swings and the 12 kg for snatches and Turkish get ups (more info soon!). I either do Ferris’ 75 swings in one set or do Tabata “sprints” with the 16 kg bell.
For Tabata sprints with the bell:
- Do swings at maximum speed with good form for 20 seconds
- Rest for 10 seconds
- Repeat 8 times
- Rest 2 minutes between sets and do 3+ sets
More Workouts to Try
Andrea DuCane, master kettlebell trainer who writes at Kettlebell Fitness recommends these additional workouts.
Round 1: Swing (your choice, 2-handed, 1-arm, alternating or doubles)
Swing for 30 seconds, Rest for 30 seconds
Back to swings for 30 seconds, Rest for 25 seconds
Finally, swing for 30 seconds, Rest for only 20 seconds
Start back at beginning and repeat as many times as you can. Add more rest if you are not as conditioned, keeping at :30 rest the entire time. Build up to 10 min. (or more!)
Round 2: Plank for :30, followed by overhead carry :30 repeat over side.
Start with the plank and end with the plank so you get 3 sets of planks with one :30 carry each arm. If you feel it’s not enough just add another set.
must be experienced with Kettlebell cleans:
Round 1: Long cycle clean and press (can do with doubles, do one round and rest), ladder: 1-5, change arms. Note; long cycle means you clean before every press. If you have time repeat 1-2 more times. If this is easy, you have too light of a Kettlebell.
REST 30 seconds-1:00 min (depends of time and fitness level)
Round 2: Long cycle clean and squat (same as above)
Very Fast Workout
Double Kettlebell Front Squats
3 sets of 5, or 4 sets of 4
Give yourself enough rest between sets about a 1-2 min.
Double Kettlebell Presses
3 sets of 4-6 (best to do less reps with heavier weight, but you it feels easy for you with the kettlebells you have do an extra rep per set.
My Favorite Kettlebells
My husband gifted me a kettlebell from Kettlebell Kings and I love it! It’s nice to look at, easy to use, and the grip feels just right. On my wish list next… battle ropes!
Ever tried kettlebells? What’s your favorite fitness routine at home? Share below!