Don't let the heavy cast iron intimidate you from trying out kettlebell training. These old-school free weights from Russia, which resemble a cannonball with a flat bottom and a thick handle welded on the opposite side, get your lower body and upper body strong and powerful at the same time. Unlike gym machine exercises that isolate your leg muscles, kettlebell training works your inner thighs -- or adductors -- with other muscle groups in your lower body to produce fluid movements.
You don't need to feel your adductors burn to strengthen them or slim your legs. They stabilize your legs and hip joints to keep them in alignment when you perform various movement pattern, physical therapist Neil Poulton observes. The goblet squat is one such exercise that works on stability of your adductors while your thighs, buttocks and calves generate strength and control your movement. While holding a 20- to 25-pound kettlebell bottom-side-up, squat down as low as you can with your feet about shoulder-distance apart while keeping your torso straight.
Even though you feel the burn in your rear end while doing kettlebell swings, your adductors are working just as hard to keep your hip joints and knees in place. Start with the two-hand swing before progressing to the single-arm swing. Keep your feet about slightly wider than your shoulders and avoid flexing your spine or hunching your shoulders as you swing. Because swings entail momentum and movement, you may be unfamiliar with the mechanics if you are only used to traditional gym training. Work with a qualified kettlebell instructor or exercise professional before attempting the swings on your own.
Kettlebell Back Lunge
As with the squat, the back lunge works your adductors to stabilize your hip joints and knees. It also works on core stability, balance and leg and hip strength. Holding one or two kettlebells in each hand with your feet slightly apart, inhale as you step back about two feet behind you with your right leg and lunge until your back knee gently touches the floor. Exhale as you push yourself up and return to the starting position.
Combine these exercises in any order you wish. For beginners, follow the multiple set system where you perform one set of an exercise followed by a period of rest -- usually between 30 to 45 seconds. Work up to three sets of 10 to 15 reps per exercise. Once you are familiar with these exercises, perform either the superset or the circuit training method. A superset is where you perform two exercises consecutively without rest in between. For example, do one set of swings followed by a set of back lunges. Circuit training is where you perform all three exercises without rest in between. The exercise intensity is less than the superset method to prevent early fatigue. For both methods, do two to three sets of eight to 15 reps. Train two to three nonconesecutive days per week. Each week, you can progress by increasing the weight, the number of reps or changing the workout method. Add other types of exercises, like body-weight training, to your kettlebell workout.
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Kettlebell Comeback
- Physioblogger: Adductors – Do Everything but Adduct!!
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 3e; Michael A. Clark
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.