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Kettlebell workouts are excellent for strengthening and conditioning major muscle groups. Free weights received an upgrade when kettlebells were introduced in fitness circles around the world. Not only do the many variations in kettlebell workouts strengthen muscles, but they can also help build core muscles and burn fat with a cardiovascular workout. What makes kettlebell exercises special compared with other programs is the total-body workout you achieve in just one short session.
One of the major advantages to using kettlebells is the fact that they engage groups of muscles in one exercise. Another benefit to kettlebells' total-body training is its benefits for the cardiovascular system. According to Kettlebell Science, training with kettlebells can increase the heart volume and weight, as well as decrease blood pressure. The total-body training that kettlebells encourage isn't just for the front of the body, but the posterior of the body as well, such as the lower back muscles, butt, calves and hamstrings. It's important to always use the proper form in order to fully engage the entire group of muscles and to avoid injury.
Core and Upper Back
A study reported in 2011 in the "Scandanavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health" showed that strength training can reduce a person's back pain while also preventing reinjury. Kettlebell workouts strengthen both your upper back and core muscles. The core muscles contain the lower back muscles, the oblique muscles and the upper and lower abdominal muscles. A workout that engages the core muscles as well as the upper back is the kettlebell row. To perform the kettlebell row, hold a bell in each hand and stand with knees bent and your butt in a seated position. Arms should be hanging down. Pull the bells back as if you were rowing a boat; palms should start forward and rotate back during the movement. Hold the back row position briefly and then drop to start position. Repeat 15 times.
Chest, Shoulders and Arms
The chest, shoulders and arms are a group of muscles that specific kettlebell exercises engage together. Most kettlebell arm exercises are specific to both the triceps and biceps, but some exercises engage the whole upper body. The kettlebell swing is an excellent example for upper-body strengthening. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold one kettlebell with both hands. Keep your hips bent back and swing the bell back between your legs. Pause for a count of one second, then swing the bell upward toward eye level. Repeat 15 times.
Pavel Tsatsouline's "Kettlebell Workout for a Femme Fatale" focuses on combination exercises that give you a cardio workout and strengthen muscles in order to save you time. The lower-body kettlebell workouts will engage these muscle groups and also improve posture and strength. During regular squats, the lower-body muscles are engaged. The kettlebell squat adds more weight to a regular squat and aids in toning and strengthening lower body muscles. To perform the kettlebell squat, stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the kettlebell handle with both hands at eye level while keeping your back straight. Squat down to the floor and go as low as your body will allow without your knees extending past your toes.