This piece first appeared on Women’s Running.
Kettlebells can be intimidating. They look heavy and the exercises are odd. But here’s a little secret—they’re actually easier to lift than dumbbells and work multiple muscles at once.
Kettlebells have gained popularity over the years and for good reason: They are effective and efficient. You can burn up to 20 calories per minute. So a 20-minute workout could be a 400-calorie scorcher while challenging multiple muscles at once, especially your core.
Ryan Cotton of Vector Kettlebells says, “Runners need to focus on exercising the muscles to improve strength, core stability, endurance, balance and overall running power.”
To help you run stronger and faster, while burning a few calories, start swinging, pressing, and lifting kettlebells to take your running to the next level.
This exercise mobilizes your joints and sets off a firing sequence throughout your posterior chain of muscles, especially your glutes.
How to: Stand tall, feet hip-width apart. Grab the kettlebell with both hands, bend your knees slightly, and let the kettlebell swing through your legs. With a hip-snapping motion, swing the kettlebell forward (arms straight) and up to chest level. Continue to swing for one minute.
To progress, do the same movement but holding the kettlebell with one hand. Do the swing for 30 seconds and then switch hands.
The move builds massive core strength while helping the shoulders and legs endure whatever you might throw at them. This is the perfect example of strength meeting balance.
How to: Stand tall, feet shoulder-width apart. Lift the bell to a rack position (thrust your hips to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder level, forearm and palm face outward, and elbow is bent). Holding the kettlebell in rack position, squat down. While in your squat position, engage your core and press the kettlebell up.
Continue to press 10 to 15 reps and then stand and repeat with the other arm.
Increase range of motion in your hamstrings, activate your glutes, strengthen your core, and stabilize your shoulders with this move.
How to: Stand tall, feet a little wider than shoulder width, and shoulders relaxed. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand and lift it all the way up. Turn your feet out slightly (about 45 degrees) and engage your core. Begin to hinge at the hips as you try to touch your left foot with your left hand (left arm is straight), keeping your legs straight and kettlebell lifted. Make sure your eyes are on the kettlebell. Once you’ve reached your foot, lift back up to starting position. Do this for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
With one move you can strengthen your hamstrings, core and lower-back muscles, while improving balance.
How to: Grab the kettlebell with you right hand and stand tall, feet hip-width apart. Bend your left knee so your left foot is lifted off the ground. Keeping your right leg straight with a slight bend in the knee, hinge forward. Keep your right arm straight and engage your core. The kettlebell will pull you down. As you’re hinging, your left leg straightens back. Once the kettlebell is a couple inches above the ground, use your core to lift back to starting position. Repeat for 15 reps and then switch legs.
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A strong core will help you run faster. This exercise increases power in the abdominal wall and the obliques.
How to: Stand tall, feet hip-width apart. Hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your hips. Release the left hand, and with the right, bring the kettlebell behind you. Bring your left hand behind you and grab the kettlebell with it. Continue to circle it around to the front where your right hand will grab the bell and continue the move. Do this for 30 seconds and then switch directions.
Once you have completed each exercise, go through the circuit again. Aim to do the 3 to 5 rounds.