How can a cannonball with a handle create one of the most effective fat burning, time efficient workouts imaginable?
It’s true that kettlebell weights may look a little odd to those who aren’t used to them, but there is an excellent reason why they have been around in one form or another since ancient times and why they have become all the rage in homes, exercise classes and gyms.
They work… They work fast and astoundingly well.
Kettlebell benefits add up quickly by creating a synergy between large muscle groups that is very hard to match in any other kind of workout. It turns out that holding a lot of weight by a handle engages your arm, shoulder, back, abdominal and leg muscles all at the same time.
In addition to the strength training benefits you would expect, the nature of movements with these kinds of weights can also improve your posture since your back muscles need to straighten up more to counteract the bell which tends to pull you forward.
The Kettlebell is a versatile workout tool that lends itself to many kinds of exercises including kettlebell swings, kettlebell squats, and snatches, and my favorite full body workout: the kettlebell clean and press.
All kettlebell exercises combine the benefits of cardiovascular, strength, balance and flexibility training at the same time while generating tremendous amounts of muscle activation. This means that you get an amazing full-body workout in a fraction of the time it would take you with other methods and it is why you can get a powerful workout in just 10 minutes.
The kettlebell clean and press is my favorite all-in-one workout because it is actually composed of two separate exercises that are linked together to perform a nearly unbeatable full-body workout. It is made up of two individual exercises that are linked together. The Clean, and the Press.
The Kettlebell Clean:
The kettlebell clean technique takes the bell from its starting position on the floor and lifts it to the “rack” position at the chest in one fluid motion. It looks like this:
It is the beginning of many other kettlebell exercises and is fantastic for weight loss and burning fat because it activates nearly every major core-body muscle group.
To do it, start with your feet shoulder-width apart with the weight in front of you on the floor. Bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hips so you can reach down and grab the handle with one hand. Grip the bell with the fingers curled over the top of the handle. You can extend the other arm out as a counterbalance if you wish.
Next, swing the kettlebell back between your legs and then use the momentum created from that movement to then swing it forward and up by driving your hips forward and straightening your back to generate power and momentum. Keep the weight close to your body and send it up in a straight line.
Once it is above your waistline, move your arm around the kettlebell so you can get your hand under it. The finished position should have the elbow in close to your body, the wrist straight, and the bell resting across the back part of your arm just below shoulder height. Squeeze the glutes tight and stand tall at the top of the movement. This is called the “rack” position.
The clean is NOT an arm exercise. It uses a snap of the hip to generate explosive power that propels the kettlebell through its trajectory.
If you were only doing the kettlebell clean exercise, you would then simply reverse the motion to swing the bell back down between your legs, and then repeat for a number of reps, and then do the other side. The kettlebell clean is a fine exercise all by itself, but since we want to maximize our 10 minute workout, we’re going to add a second part to the exercise so we can engage even more muscles and burn even more fat…
The Kettlebell Press:
The kettlebell press technique starts where the clean left off, with the bell in the rack position just below the shoulder. From there we raise the bell overhead into a straight arm position. It looks like this:
The kettlebell press technique starts where the kettlebell clean technique ended. We start in the racked position with the bell against the chest and then lift it straight up to an overhead position with the arm up straight. A good kettlebell press requires perfect alignment of the body from head to toe so that you create a strong stable base for the upward thrust.
This exercise will quickly give your heart and lungs a good workout too, as the body has to work extra hard when your arms are raised higher than the level of your heart. Naturally, the extra weight of the bell added to the exercise means that your cardiopulmonary system has to work extra hard which only adds to the intensity of the overall workout.
Take a look at all the muscles that you activate when you are doing a proper kettlebell clean and press:
As you can see, the kettlebell clean and press lights up almost all of the major muscle groups in the course of the exercise, and will burn a tremendous amount of fat over the course of your workout.
Getting started with the Kettlebell Clean and Press Workout:
To begin incorporating kettlebells into your workout, you first need to select the proper weight.
A kettlebell routine does not work the same way that a dumbbell routine does, so the weights are not the same. Kettlebell exercise routines are based on full body movements and work 100’s of muscles at the same time which is how it can burn so many calories so quickly. Dumbbells are typically used to isolate specific muscles like bicep curls or tricep extensions.
Most beginners tend to make the mistake of selecting a bell that is too light when they are first starting out. This not only diminishes the effectiveness of the workout but it also encourages bad form during the actual moves. Using a weight that is too light means that you can power through a move improperly and this could cause you to use bad form. A heavier bell encourages proper body dynamics and a more complete muscle synergy as a part of each rep.