Why the Kettlebell is a Great Tool for Runners

This article first appeared on Women’s Running.

If you’re only logging miles and skipping the strength sessions, consider kettlebells. In other words, swing, squat and snatch your way to perform your best at your next race.

Kettlebell training, an interval-style workout that uses explosive power with weight, can help you boost your running performance in as little as 30 minutes per workout—and it doesn’t require much equipment, space or time. But first, here are the basics:

What is a kettlebell? 

A kettlebell is a weight that has a unique offset center of gravity.

What’s the difference between a kettlebell and dumbbell? 

Dumbbells have weight equally balanced on each side. A kettlebell’s weight is distributed in the center.

“The kettlebell’s design allows you to swing it back between your legs, unlike a barbell or dumbbell, allowing for controlled speed during the exercise and utilizing the most powerful muscles of the body [legs, glutes, back] to dynamically propel the kettlebell forward,” says Joseph Morstad, a two-time triathlete, author and fitness and nutrition coach.

How does kettlebell training actually boost running performance?

This style of training increases cardiovascular health without putting too much strain on your muscles. The explosive, quick movement that’s required during kettlebell training boosts your heart rate, strengthening cardiovascular health while increasing muscle strength, posture and core—all essential elements to improve your running performance. Kettlebell training allows you to maximize your workout effort in a short amount of time. In other words, you conserve energy while increasing strength and speed.

Other benefits you can gain from kettlebell training include:

  • Improved overall body strength, specifically glutes, hamstrings, core, back muscles
  • More mobility—the better you move, the easier you can run and the faster you run
  • Boosted endurance and stamina—you can go farther much easier
  • Increased work capacity
  • Better running posture and stride

Morstad goes on to explain the benefits specifically related to one of the most underused muscles in runners: the glutes.

“Stronger glutes can promote better ankle, knee and hip alignment, helping women runners [specifically] prevent inward knee collapse,” explains Morstad. “A stronger core allows for more upright running posture, better breathing and easier/smoother stride.”

RELATED: 5 Kettlebell Exercises for Runners

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