Put the kettle on (not that one – that's for afterwards!) with these strength exercises
This is an exercise for the hamstrings, glutes, lower back muscles, and is also the starting position for swings, below.
- With the bell between your feet, stand with your feet hip width apart, soften your knees and with a straight back, and engaging your core and glutes, grasp the bell with both hands.
- Stand up quickly, ‘snapping’ your glutes forward, straightening your legs and keeping your shoulders back, while holding the bell below you, between your legs.
- Return to the start position, pushing your hips back, as if you’re pushing against a wall.
This exercise helps engage your glutes and hamstrings through different ranges of motion. This will increase respiration and heart rate at greater intensities.
- Start in the same position as a deadlift, hold the bell in both hands, engage your core, and swiftly swing the bell up to eye level, hinging your hips and keeping your shoulders back. Keep your eyes focused forwards, let the bell bring your upper body back down, so the bottom of the swing is just between your thighs, and then use your legs and hips to ‘snap’ it back up again. Swing at a tempo that is comfortable for you (usually 22-25 swings per minute).
- Try to keep your back straight, and hinge from the hips: this will improve hamstring activity and glutes will become active as you reach the eye position. You can vary this by changing the weight of the bell, or increasing or decreasing the tempo. As with all these exercises, exhale on the effort (in this case, as you bring the bell to eye level) as this will help engage your core and protect your back.
Romanian dead lift
This exercise challenges balance, core strength and glute/hamstring function.
- Stand feet hip-width apart, holding the bell in your right hand at your side, with your left arm outstretched for balance.
- Keeping your hips level, and your left leg soft at the knee, push your right leg out behind you, slowly lowering your torso with a straight back at the same time. Viewed from the side, it will look like a T position. Try to keep three points of contact with the floor ie, heel, base of the big toe and little toe.
- Return to the start position in a slow controlled way. Be aware of muscle aching afterwards due to the eccentric component of the exercise.
Single leg balance into split squat
This exercise helps improve balance, and range of motion on one leg.
- Stand on one leg and place the kettlebell on a towel on the floor (you need a smooth laminate fl oor for this) next to your standing leg, push the kettlebell as far away as you can with the non-standing leg, and try to keep your balance.
- Pick the kettlebell back up using a split squat.
- Repeat the exercise in any direction on the imaginary clock face on the floor; this will challenge your balance, hip and leg muscles in different directions. At all times, keep your back straight, your shoulders back and engage your core.
This exercise is good for your glutes, hamstring, core and oblique muscles.
- Start with the kettlebell in one hand above your head with your arm and elbow straight, feet in classic ‘warrior’ pose, with one leg bent, and your shoulders back. Slide your other hand along the inside of the bent leg, continue to get to your ankle (or where you feel comfortable), keep your gaze on the kettlebell above your head.
- Do this in a slow and controlled way, returning to the start position. You can change the hand position as you reach towards your foot/ ankle.
Lateral lunge with kettlebell
This exercise is good for lateral (glute) and medial hip muscles (adductors).
- Start with your feet together so they are almost touching, grip the kettlebell with both hands and hug it to your chest. Lunge to the side keeping your gaze ahead, sit the hips back as if you’re sitting on a chair, and ensure your knee follows the same direction as the foot. Don’t lunge too far to begin with, build up the depth and distance as you progress.
- Push back to the start position using the bent knee. You can play around with pushing through the heel and front part of the foot, and increase the speed of return as you get used to the exercise.