How do I get started using kettlebells?

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How do I get started using kettlebells?

KettlebellsTo learn how to use kettlebells it is highly recommended that you start by identifying a qualified professional who has an NCCA-accredited fitness certification, as well as additional training on how to use kettlebells.  

Getting started

Start by learning how to hold the bell safely and properly - wrap both hands completely around the handle.  The first exercise to try is the kettlebell hip hinge—this is the foundational movement for more dynamic exercises like a swing or a swing-snatch.  To do the hip hinge—hold the kettlebell with both hands so it is hanging in front of the body by the waist, brace the stomach, keep the knees slightly bent and push your weight back into your hips (maintain a straight spine, don’t let the back bend or round), once you can’t move the hips any further (without causing rounding in the back) then squeeze your glutes and push the hips forward to return to standing.  Start with 1 set of 15 and progress to doing three sets of 15 with 45 seconds rest between each set.  Once you can do three sets of hip hinges it will be time to progress to swings. 

Kettlebell swing

To do a swing, increase the pace of the hip hinge—sink back quickly into the hips during the lowering phase, then explosively push the feet into the ground and thrust the hips forward to generate the momentum for the exercise.  Start with one set of 12 swings holding on to the bell with both hands, progress to doing one-handed swings—2 sets of 12 reps, holding with one hand, no rest when switching hands and 45-60 sec rest after using both hands.

Access a complete 6-week kettlebell training plan and learn more about the ACE research study on the benefits of kettlebell training.

Pete McCallPete McCall Contributor

Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and long-time player in the fitness industry. He has been featured as an expert in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Runner's World and Self. He holds a master's degree in exercise science and health promotion, and several advanced certifications and specializations with NSCA and NASM.

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