The kettlebells are calling you

If you’re unfamiliar with kettlebells imagine a small version of a bowling ball with an attached handle. Coming in a variety of weights, kettlebells offer a great alternative to traditional handheld weights. All you’ve got to do is grab hold of a weight that is challenging but you feel comfortable handling and get started. Because of the kettlebell’s unique shape, kettlebells open the door to some unique exercises that work your body in ways that are difficult to replicate with traditional weights.

Follow the instructions below for five great kettlebell exercises.

Aim for three to five sets of 10 to 30 repetitions of each exercise for a cardio, strength and flexibility workout all in one.

Kettlebell swing

This exercise can be done using either one hand or both and targets your back, shoulders, hips, legs and glutes. Place your feet a little wider than your hips, slightly bend your knees, and push your hips back. Hold the kettlebell handle with two hands or just one in front of your body, palms facing down. In one motion push your hips forward and swing the kettlebell in front of you. Use the motion of your hips to swing the kettlebell rather than making your arms do the work.

Kettlebell row

Get a great shoulder, back and arm workout with the kettlebell row. You’ll need two kettlebells for this one – one for each hand. Place each kettlebell on the floor in front of your feet, stand up and slightly bend your knees. Then bend over, grab each kettlebell by the handle, pull them up toward your stomach and then lower the weights back to the floor. Keep your back straight the entire time and your elbows next to your body. Repeat.

Kettlebell squat

What’s a leg and glute workout without squats? Stand up straight, feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Hold one kettlebell against your chest with both hands and keep your elbows close to your sides. Squat down by bending your knees and pushing your hips back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stand back up and repeat.

Kettlebell lunge

Get more out of your lunges with a kettlebell. Work your back, shoulders, arms, abs, legs and glutes with this exercise. Stand up straight and hold a kettlebell against your chest with two hands, palms facing in. Take a big step forward with one foot, lower your body toward the floor and raise the kettlebell up over your head at the same time. Then, bring both legs together in a standing position and lower the kettlebell back to your chest. Next, step forward with your opposite leg. Repeat.

Kettlebell twist

Tired of crunches? Mix things up with this exercise for your abs and obliques. Sit on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Hold one kettlebell at your chest with both hands and lean back so you’re at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Now it’s time to twist. Twist to the right while moving the kettlebell to the right. Then swing to the left and move the kettlebell with you. Keep twisting from side to side.

These five exercises are just a few of the many different workouts you can do with a kettlebell. When using kettlebells (or any weights, for that matter), be sure to use proper form to decrease your risk of injury and increase effectiveness.

With a kettlebell workout you burn 20 calories a minute. Do it for an hour and you’ve cut 1,200 calories from your waistline.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.