Kettlebell Pilates is a relatively new workout routine that effectively combines the core-strengthening focus of Pilates with the intense muscle building and cardiovascular benefits of kettlebells. Both require a great deal of muscular self-control, particularly in the hips, legs and trunk, and the resulting combination can provide tremendous health benefits.
Kettlebell and Pilates
Pilates is a mat-based exercise that targets your core while increasing your flexibility and self-control. It achieves this through a rigorous set of progressively more challenging exercises, from simple stretches to exercises that rely on complex workout equipment. Because Pilates is so versatile, it can be fused with practically any other form of exercise program, from yoga to dancing to swimming. The kettlebell is a centuries-old form of exercise that uses a heavy weight with a handle in a variety of high-intensity, strength-building moves. Like Pilates, kettlebell sessions focus primarily on building up core strength in your legs, hips and torso, with the additional benefit of providing a first-rate cardiovascular workout. Many instructors across the country have combined the two in various forms, with exercise routines ranging from simply holding kettlebells while performing standard Pilates moves, to total-body workouts that combine kettlebell swings with Pilates poses and additional exercise machines such as Pilates reformers.
The primary benefit from combining kettlebells with Pilates relates to the power of both systems: strengthening your core. Your core consists of your back muscles, abdominals, hips and glutes. Pilates exercises work out these major muscle groups, while the kettlebell swings add a tremendous amount of additional resistance to these exercises, fatiguing the muscles and lengthening the connective tissues of your joints. The strength-building benefits are not limited to your core: these exercises can also affect your shoulders, biceps, triceps, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings, depending on the specific focus of your routine.
According to a 2010 study done by the American Council on Exercise, a simple 20-minute kettlebell workout burns as many calories as uphill cross country or sprinting at a six-minute mile pace. This makes kettlebell swings one of the most efficient cardiovascular exercises in existence; combining this high-intensity workout with the arm and core exercises of Pilates increases the resistance and muscular control even further.
The fusion of kettlebells and Pilates is a relatively new concept, and as such there is no universally-accepted standard program of approved exercises. Because there is no form of certification for this exercise hybrid, you should approach any kettlebell Pilates class with caution. Ask about their experience or certification with either kettlebell or Pilates, and start slowly so as not to injure yourself.
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