When you think of Strength Training, I'm sure one of the first things that come to mind is a fully loaded barbell being thrown around for heavy singles or triples. When I first started strength training, that's exactly what I thought, and kettlebells were the last thing I reached for. However, as the years have gone on, a quality kettlebell set has slowly but surely made its way up the list as an essential piece of home gym equipment that I highly recommend.
Today I'm going to go through an excellent full-body, strength focused kettlebell workout that'll have you increasing your 1 Rep Max while eliminating some common weaknesses that can occur when focusing on more traditional barbell based strength training.
Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlifts
4 x 6-8 reps
When you think of carrying around a fully loaded suitcase through an airport, you don't think you're training, but if you're anything like me, the huffing and puffing at check-in will have you believing otherwise. Well, some sadists thought this was an excellent opportunity for an exercise, and I hate to say it, but they're not wrong.
Fortunately, they're a little easier to perform than manoeuvring through an airport. Grab yourself one heavy kettlebell - this is a short one-sided movement, so use something heavier than you would use for, say, swings. Stand alongside it and simply pick it up. You'll want to make sure you're using your legs and not your back here, so push your knees forward to reach the kettlebell and try to straighten your knees and hips at the same time.
With the exercise being unilaterally loaded (only weight on one side), you'll really need to engage your core and try to keep your hips as even as possible. After you complete one set, swap sides.
Kettlebell Goblet Squat
3 x 6-8 reps
With the Kettlebell Goblet Squat, strong wrists are a must! You'll want to keep them stacked (not flexed or extended).
Grab a couple of kettlebells (I'd start off with 8kg kettlebells to get the hang of holding them in front). From there, simply squat down, being front-loaded helps gym-goers with mobility to reach depth with the added balance it provides. If you're still struggling, try to raise your heels on a 10kg weight plate to reduce the range of motion required from the ankles, this will also help focus the exercise on the quads more, so it's a good training hack even if you feel you have adequate mobility.
Kettlebell Floor Press
3 sets x 8-10 reps
One of my favourite exercises is the Kettlebell Floor Press, mainly because I can lie down doing them. As you can imagine, it's a pretty easy set-up on these. The reduction in range is countered by the fact you're pressing at the start of a sticking point many people struggle with on a normal bench press, which can be a great variation. One quick tip is when your triceps make contact with the floor, do it in a controlled manner, avoid any bouncing off the floor to aid the press.
If you're looking for a little extra difficulty: instead of having the kettlebells rest along your wrist, take it up a notch by balancing the kettlebells straight up. You'll have to slow down the lowering and only gently touch the floor with your triceps, but the added tension on the pecs will have them on fire towards the end.
Kettlebell Thrusters are an excellent full-body exercise that'll have you drenched in sweat and nearly every muscle in your body burning. Great to wring out a little extra from your muscles, another area that'll require a little extra focus is your form as you fatigue. A couple of points is to keep your elbows up and forward and use the momentum of your leg drive to assist with the pressing portion of the lift.
Kettlebell Farmers Carry
(3 x 40 steps)
The finisher. You want to go pretty heavy on these (12kg through to 28kg kettlebell each side is a good range depending on experience and strength levels) but not too heavy as there's a couple of points of mention I want to raise to maximize the effectiveness of these carries.
The first is NO WADDLING. We're not penguins auditioning for March of the Penguins. We want to keep our hips as even and straight as possible, this will have the glutes and core firing to ensure stability in the midsection, which is exactly what we're after here.
Secondly, stand straight and strong. Don't let the weight have you leaning forward or hunched over. Keep your hips underneath you and make strong, deliberate steps forward.
So there you have it! Kettlebells are definitely the dark horse when it comes to strength training, but as you can see, you can smash out a gruelling session, and all you need is a quality kettlebell set.
Check out MuscleSquad's range of Kettlebells here.