If your regular dumbbell routine is getting boring, set the weights aside and start using kettlebells. So what if they look like cannonballs with handles? These weights are easy to move in your hands and permit a longer range of motion while engaging more muscles. Kettlebell circles, or halos, work your upper back and shoulders, and will also make your abs burn. Whether you do the exercise with bent arms, or challenge yourself with straight-arm circles, if your form is correct, you'll gain all the benefits.
Bent-Arm Kettlebell Circle
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your elbows 90 degrees and hold the sides of a kettlebell handle in front of your chest, pointing the bottom of the ball portion up.
Tighten your abdominals to support your back, then raise your right forearm to bring the weight next to your left ear. During this motion the bottom of the kettlebell slowly turns toward the back and down.
Rotate your shoulders and move your right forearm over your head, bringing the kettlebell behind you with the ball hanging down. Keep your body still -- avoid moving your head and use your muscles to control the ball and to keep it from touching you.
Bring your left forearm over your head to move the ball next to your right ear. The ball should still hang down.
Move your left forearm down in front of your upper chest, slowly turning the kettlebell so the ball points up as you return to the starting position. Complete six circles before switching directions.
Straight-Arm Kettlebell Circle
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms overhead while holding the sides of a kettlebell handle so the bottom of the ball points up.
Tighten your abdominals, keep your shoulders down and slowly rotate your torso, moving in a circle from the left to the back, then to the right and back to the starting position. Keep your arms extended upward during the movement, and use your abdominals to control the weight's motion. Avoid moving your hips -- your body only moves from the waist up. Make the circle as big as you comfortably can. Imagine lengthening your torso and drawing a circle on the ceiling.
Complete six circles before switching directions.
- Use minimal weight to develop proper form. Once you master the technique, don't be afraid to gradually increase the weight so you stay challenged.
- Consult a doctor before engaging in a new exercise routine, especially if you have an injury or a health condition.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.