The fitness industry is constantly evolving. New tools and training methods pop up at your neighborhood gym, on TV, and in magazines on a regular basis. Are they always new, though? You’d be surprised!
Many of these tools are touted as the latest-and-greatest, guaranteed to get you better and faster results than anything you’ve tried before. Their popularity is often short-lived, and they eventually fade away. There are some tools, however, that have been around for centuries. Their popularity may rise and fall as some temporary fads enjoy their moment in the spotlight. But these tools are timeless, and much like certain fashions, they never go out of style.
The kettlebell is an example of one of those timeless tools. It has been around forever, and started gaining popularity again about 15 years ago. When I first got acquainted with kettlebells in 2004, like many people, I thought it was some new fad!
The problem that arises with a new tool, or one that resurfaces, is that suddenly everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. In the kettlebell community, while it’s exciting that so many people are eager to use these tools, we often see workout enthusiasts as well as trainers executing traditional exercises with poor technique or inventing new (and often questionable) exercises without taking the time to attend a certification or learn from someone who has. The situation is ripe for an accident or injury.
As kettlebells become more widely available in mainstream fitness, it can get quite overwhelming for beginners trying to wade through all the information out there: videos and articles available online, workouts from celebrity trainers on TV and in magazines. It’s hard for a someone who is new to kettlebells to discern between proper and unsafe technique, and to know if what they’re looking at is a properly executed traditional kettlebell exercise, or if not traditional, at the very least a safe movement.
Surprisingly, the kettlebell is still considered a fad by some, but any amount of time invested in understanding and studying its proper use makes it crystal clear just how efficient even the basic exercises are. After running a gym where I taught 25-30 semi-private training classes each week for over six years, I learned that it takes time for some people—even after experiencing tremendous strength gains and fat loss—to believe this training modality can deliver all they need. They often think they need more. “It can’t be that simple!”
To address this, as a business owner and coach you learn to start with a little of what your clients want and a lot of what they need. Case in point: so many people think they must “feel the burn” or they didn’t work their abs. The question I heard most often at the end of a training session was, “Can we do some abs now?” As a coach, I’m thinking, “You do realize that all our kettlebell training works your abs, right?” But as a business owner I understand that this is the ‘a little of what they want’ part.
If the “burn” is what you are after, the following exercises are right up your alley.
3 Unconventional Kettlebell Core Exercises
Disclaimer: The following three exercises are not considered traditional kettlebell exercises, and are not taught at StrongFirst kettlebell certifications. These exercises just happen to be done most effectively with a kettlebell than with another training tool.
Scroll down to see step-by step instructions for the exercises in this video.
Alternating Knee Tuck:
- Begin Supine (laying on your back).
- Bell should be sitting on the ground above your head.
- Extend your legs and lift them a few inches off the ground.
- Grip the kettlebell handle with both hands.
- Keep your low back in contact with the floor.
- Simultaneously pull the bell over your head and one knee toward your chest.
- Fully extend your arms and leg to the starting position.
- Repeat the move alternating legs with each repetition.
Half-Kneeling Wood Chop:
- Begin with your right knee in a half-kneeling stance.
- Place the kettlebell in the rack position on the left side of your body.
- “Throw” the bell across and down toward your right hip.
- Stay tall and don’t allow the hip to hinge during the movement.
- Match the breathing, inhaling on the throw and exhaling on the return.
Standing Cross Crunch:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hinge and pick up the bell safely by the horns.
- Simultaneously pull your right elbow and your left knee together.
- Inhale while standing and exhale as you cross your body’s midline and connect the elbow and knee.
- Repeat the move for desired reps and switch sides, or alternate sides with each rep.
While I whole-heartedly believe in the effectiveness of the basic kettlebell skills that we teach at our certifications and pride myself in teaching quality movement over quantity, I also understand that some people draw enjoyment and motivation from a little more variety in their training.
If you’re learning kettlebell skills from a trainer, I urge you to verify that he or she is certified to teach them. The fact that someone has a general personal training certification, is published in a popular fitness magazine, or is representing a large, well-known fitness or sports organization, doesn’t automatically guarantee that this person is an authority on all training modalities.
If you want to use a tool that is new to you, remember that quality movement and proper technique are important to help you attain your goals efficiently and keep you injury-free.