Kettlebell training can be a bit scary at first because of the kettlebell's unbalanced weight and shape. But with a some practice, knowledge and patience, you get mix of strength and cardio training with kettlebells that will get you the muscle definition you want without the bulk. The best kettlebell exercises for women that help them with fat loss are the ones that work the entire body. This helps you burn more calories than working individual muscles.
Kettlebell deadlifts should be the first kettlebell exercise that you should learn, suggests kettlebell expert Stefanie Shelton of SPS Enterprises in St. Louis, Missouri. It teaches you how to hinge at your hips and use your buttocks to help you lift a heavy weight off the ground. By engaging your core and using proper breathing, you strengthen your buttocks, abs, grip and every muscle in your legs. Shelton suggests that you use a heavy weight for the deadlift between 35 to 70 pounds, depending on your fitness level. Stand with your legs about shoulder-distance apart and put a 35-pound kettlebell between your feet. Bend your torso forward at your hips and stick your buttocks behind you. Bend your knees slightly as you grab the kettlebell's handle with both hands. Keep your lower back extended and never flex your upper spine. Shift your weight back onto your heels before you lift. Exhale as you push your hips forward and straighten your legs, bringing your torso upright and the kettlebell off the ground. Remember that you use your lower body, not your arms, to lift. Inhale as you reverse the movement to lower the weight to the floor. Do two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
If you want something more challenging than the hip extension machine at the gym, reverse lunges will challenge every part of your body, especially your buttocks, legs, core and balance. Hold a 20-pound kettlebell in each hand. Stand with your feet together and step back with your right foot between two to three feet behind you. Keep your left foot glued to the floor. Inhale as you lunge straight down until your right knee gently touches the floor, while keeping your torso upright. Exhale as you step forward with your right foot to the starting position. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps per leg.
Kettlebell swings can get your heart racing like an Olympic sprinter. The exercise uses the same hip-hinging movement as the deadlift, using your buttocks and legs to produce force while your core stabilizes your torso. The biggest mistake women do when doing the swing is that they use a weight that is too light, Shelton says. If you use a light kettlebell, you are more likely to lift it with your arms than using your lower body to help you swing. Stand with your legs about shoulder-distance apart, and hold a 20- to 30-pound kettlebell with both hands. The kettlebell should be hanging down in front of you near your groin. Inhale sharply as you hinge your torso forward at your hips and swing the kettlebell between your legs. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back extended. Exhale as you quickly push your hips forward and straighten your legs, swinging the kettlebell up and in front of you no higher than your shoulders. The weight should feel lighter as you are using momentum to swing. Inhale as you hinge forward at your hips and swing the kettlebell down between your legs. Do two to three sets of 10 to 20 reps.
If you are new to kettlebell training, work with a qualified kettlebell instructor or fitness coach before attempting any of these exercises yourself. Use a lighter weight if you cannot perform these exercises with proper form. Use a heavier weight if you can do these exercise with no sweat.
- Stefanie Shelton, RKC, FMS; SPS Enterprises, LLC; St. Louis, Missouri
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Kettlebell Comeback