Kettlebell Sets and What to Look for

Kettlebell Sets

Training with kettlebells is a great way to workout. By design they build muscle mass while providing an intense cardio workout. It’s the best of both worlds you could say. Fantastic! Now, where do you start? Well, it starts with getting yourself one of the many kettlebell sets available and by reading my other article on kettlebell training basics

You need a kettlebell set because just one kettlebell limits your exercise options. You can still have a killer workout with just one but it gets more fun and diverse with multiple options.

Does it matter which of the kettlebell sets you buy? Yes! Though it’s not as complicated as you may think. You don’t have to buy a kit per se, just buy one at a time until you create your perfect set.

Personally, I prefer a one-piece solid cast iron kettlebell. Cap, Troy and Onnit make some good ones. Other materials just don’t feel the same for me. I want my workouts to be gritty and hard, and it’s hard to go wrong with solid cast iron for that.

Next is choosing the weight. Trust me, you will underestimate the weight of these suckers. When I went to pick up my first 35lbs kettlebell I thought it was 50 or 60 pounds. The weight is so densely packed that I couldn’t believe how heavy it was! Keep this in mind when selecting your kettlebells. Go to your nearest sports retail store and try these out first if you’re thinking of buying online.

So what kettlebell sets should you get? That varies from person to person. It was tough for me to start with a 35lbs kettlebell, especially when following the Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout DVD. For me, the best bet was starting with a 15lbs, 25lbs and 35lbs kettlebell. With these three you can work your way up to heavier weights, do super sets and drop sets. Another option is to double up and get two of the same weights so you can do certain exercises, such as the double kettlebell swing.

The truth is, there aren’t any one-size fits all kettlebell sets. You need to pick the bells you are most comfortable with and that will give you the best challenge. If you’re curious where I bought my kettlebells, I bought my kettlebells from Amazon.

Back Pain Exercises

Back Pain Exercises There are few things worse than having to live with back pain. Even normal activities such as sleeping, cooking, walking and long trips can be painful and frustrating. Luckily, there are back pain exercises which can help reduce or even eliminate back pain and help you live a more normal life again. As always, please consult your doctor before attempting any back pain exercises or suggestions described on this page. The back pain exercises below will help strengthen your core. A large portion of back pain and back injuries are caused by having a weak core, wikipedia defines the core as your “body minus your legs and arms”. There are plenty of muscle groups that belong in the core, some of them are the abdominals, obliques, latissimus dorsi (referred to as “lats”), glutes and trapezius. By strengthening these muscles you lower the probability of injuries, especially back injuries. These back pain exercises can also help with injuries caused by car accidents or sports and will help you age gracefully. Here are some back pain exercises which will strengthen your core.

  • Crunches: I like the crunch better than the sit-up because it’s less strain on the lower back. Get in the usual sit-up position, place your hands behind your head and curl your upper body toward your legs. Don’t pull your head forward when crunching, that’s cheating. Make sure your abdominals do the work. Do 5 sets of 15 repetitions.
  • Cobra Stretch: My favorite stretch (especially after crunches)! Lie face down and place your palms near your chest as if you were going to do a pushup. Now raise your head and chest and extend as far as you can. Use your arms for support. Once you reach your peak you should resemble a cobra. Remember to keep your hips and legs touching the floor. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds.
  • Leg Lifts: Lay flat on the floor facing up. Put your hands under your glutes and raise your legs about 2 to 3 feet off the ground and lower them to about 6 inches off the ground. Do 3 sets of 10. Remember to keep your legs extended and close together the entire time.
  • Supermans: One of my favorite workouts! Lay flat, face down with your arms and legs fully extended (imagine Superman flying). While in the same position, raise your arms and legs as high as you comfortably can. Do 3 sets of 10.
  • Pull-ups: The ultimate back workout. Very difficult for beginners, you might need some help if you’re just starting. Grabbing a pull-up bar shoulder width apart (palms in or out, palms in is usually easier), lift yourself up until your chin is above the bar and until your collar bone is parallel to the bar. Pause for a moment and return back to your original position (careful with lowering to fast and hitting your chin on the bar).
  • Bent-over rows: There are multiple ways to do this, either with a barbell or dumbbells or even your own bodyweight. The basic movement is to keep your knees bent slightly and while keeping your back straight, lower yourself to pick up the weight and rise again. Still keeping your back straight angle yourself forward a little to where you can comfortably hold the weight (your arms should be perpendicular to the floor). Raise the weight to the bottom of your chest (should be a straight up movement), pause for a moment, and lower the weight to the original position. If performing this exercise at home, find a stable surface where you can hang on from and pull yourself up. Imagine a push up if you were facing the ceiling while holding on to a firm table, fence or other safe object. Do 3 sets of 10 reps and light weight.
  • Deadlifts: Similar to the above bent-over row. There are also multiple ways to do this exercise. The most common is while the weight is on the floor (barbell or dumbbells), squat down and get a good shoulder-width apart grip. Straighten your back and push through your heels straightening your legs. Once your legs are straight continue the lift by extending your back as far as possible (slightly further back from a standing position). Pause for a moment and return back to the original position in a controlled manner. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

The above back pain exercises are a good start to getting your core in shape and improving your lifestyle. Remember to implement a lot of stretching, yoga is excellent for this. Start off easy and move up in weight only when you feel comfortable. If you have any existing injuries, have had surgery or have any other medical conditions, do not attempt any of these back pain exercises without first consulting your physician.

Kettlebell Training Basics

Kettlebells

Kettlebells were first created in Russia in the 1700s, apparently farmers used to throw them around for fun. In the mid 1900s, kettlebells started being used for physical training and conditioning in Europe and the United States, but they really became popular around the year 2000. Since then really took off, especially with the CrossFit community.

Kettlebell training offers a fantastic combination of strength and cardiovascular training. The exercises that can be performed with them can help increase flexibility and explosiveness. Kettlebell training also makes it much easier to workout at home since you can have a great workout with just one pood (the unit of weight commonly used for kettlebells which is equivalent to 35lbs).

The principle exercise is the kettlebell swing. There are many variations of this exercise, but the most commonly performed swing is with both hands on the kettlebell handle. It begins from a slight squatting position with the kettlebell between the glutes and the floor and with one smooth swing, raising the kettlebell above the head. The swing then returns to the starting position in a controlled form. Both arms are extended through the entire swing and the back is straight. It’s best to start with very light weight until you are comfortable with the movement and increase the weight once you perfect your form.

The great thing about kettlebell training is that it’s a whole body workout. Most, if not all, muscles are triggered when performing kettlebells. Even the tiny little muscles and fibers that are rarely used when lifting with machines and barbells come into play helping to stabilize the weight. You may notice some shaking when holding certain positions initially. Dumbells are similar to kettlebells in this manner.

Kettlebell training offers many benefits and can be easily incorporated into any exercise routine. With a little creativity and imagination you can add a lot of interesting ways to burn calories and build lean body mass. If you run out of ideas, The Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout DVD is a great investment.