Everyone wants to look their best come the season of skin (AKA summer), and the key is to challenge your bod in fresh ways. Enter the kettlebell: a functional, bell-shaped piece of equipment that can help sculpt muscles and torch calories. “Kettlebells are more user-friendly than barbells or dumbbells,” says Missy Paris, StrongFirst-certified trainer and kettlebell specialist in New York City. “Plus, you can use them to get in a killer cardio burn without your feet ever leaving the ground.”
Unlike with other weights, a kettlebell’s load is centrally located, which makes it easier to get from Point A to Point B in a swift motion. “A lot of exercises we do with the bell mimic the way our body’s naturally intended to move,” Paris says. Kettlebells also place greater demands on your stabilizing muscles, core, and coordination, leading to (potentially) bigger results.
This workout plan, created by trainer Dan John, owner of the Westridge Street Barbell Club in Utah, pairs high-rep strength moves with dynamic stretches. “It combines mobility, strength, and cardio,” he says. The yin-yang approach will help you not only rev your goals in the gym but also build strength that translates far beyond it. The best part? Once you track down a kettlebell, you’re Ready. To. Go.
Time: 25 minutes
Equipment: Master the movement with just body weight first; then increase the load. “I recommend beginners reach for a 12 kg bell,” says Paris.
Don’t have a kettlebell on hand? Use dumbbells instead.
Good for: Full body
Instructions: Complete the exercises in Superset 1 back-to-back, as instructed. Repeat twice more, then go to Superset 2, following the same pattern. Continue to 3 and 4, repeating the pattern, until you’ve done all the exercises. Cap your workout with the two metabolic finishers to boost your overall burn.
Focus on Form: A kettlebell’s off-set design makes good technique especially important. For starters, keep your wrists straight (bending them raises the risk for strain and doesn’t let you transfer power as effectively between your body and the bell). Be sure to activate your entire foot, from heel to toe, to create a stable base.
Single-Arm Shoulder Press
How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and “rack” a kettlebell in left hand—that is, hold it in front of shoulder with weight resting on forearm, elbow by your side . Press weight directly above shoulder, rotating arm so palm faces forward. Pause, then return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10; switch arms and repeat.
Hip Flexor Stretch
How to: Stand with feet staggered, left foot two feet in front of right. Bend knees to lower body until right knee touches floor; place hands on hips. Push hips forward until you feel a stretch in right hip flexor and quad. Return to start. Repeat for 30 seconds, switching legs halfway through.
Single-Arm Supported Row
How to: Holding kettlebell in right hand, palm facing in, hinge forward at hips. Place left hand on bench or box. Let kettlebell hang at arm’s length. Pull kettlebell up to torso, keeping elbow tucked. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10; switch sides and repeat.
Hip Flexor Rainbow
How to: Stand with feet staggered, left foot two feet in front of right. Bend knees to lower body until right knee touches floor. Extend left arm straight out in front of you and place right hand on left thigh. This is the starting position. Reach back toward right foot with left hand. Keeping arm straight, arc left hand overhead to return to start. Repeat for 30 seconds; switch sides and repeat.
How to: Place kettlebell on floor in front of you. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders, then push hips back as you bend knees and grab kettlebell handle with both hands. Swing weight back between legs, then thrust hips forward as you swing weight to chest height. Swing it back between legs. That’s one rep. Continue swinging without stopping for 30 total reps.
How to: Get on hands and knees with hands shoulder-width apart and palms flat on floor. Raise left arm in front of you and right leg behind, forming a straight line from left hand to right foot. Hold for 10 seconds, then return to start. Repeat with opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating for 30 seconds.
How to: Grasp kettlebell by its handle with both hands, holding it vertically in front of chest. Brace core, then push hips back and bend knees to lower body as far as you can. Pause, then push through heels to return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10.
How to: Get on hands and knees. Keeping back straight, twist torso to the right and lift right arm toward ceiling. Pause, then return to start. Repeat with left arm. Continue alternating for 30 seconds.
How to: Grab kettlebell with left hand and let it hang at arm’s length at side. Let right arm hang free. Brace core and walk forward, keeping chest up and torso straight. Continue for 30 seconds, then switch arms and repeat.
How to: Get in pushup position with hands slightly wider than shoulders, arms straight, body forming a straight line from head to heels. Brace core and hold for two minutes.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Women’s Health. For more intel on how to live a happier, healthier life, pick up an issue, on newsstands May 28.
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