You might be surprised at how many benefits lie waiting to be unleashed in this little powerhouse known as the kettlebell. Let’s take a look at a few below.
1. Full-Body Burn
Any time you work with kettlebells, you engage nearly every muscle in your body. Now doesn’t that sound amazing!
Even during the kettlebell swing, which at first appears to primarily work the arms, you’re actually working your core, glutes, back, shoulders, and quads. In fact, your power for the swing shouldn’t even come from your arms, but we’ll talk about that later.
The reason kettlebells engage so many muscles is due to the fact that just by holding one, your body immediately has to engage the stabilizer muscles in your core and low back to remain balanced.
This becomes even more pronounced when you start to do asymmetrical kettlebell exercises, like single-handed swings, since they require even more core strength and balance to perform.
But the work doesn’t stop there.
The explosive movement of the kettlebell swing, combined with all of these firing muscles, also gives us a hard-core anaerobic and aerobic workout.
This is especially great when it comes to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style workouts, since we get all the fat-burning and muscle-building benefits in one nice package of movement.
2. Anaerobic and Aerobic Benefits
Kettlebell swings are unique in their ability to give you both an anaerobic and aerobic workout at the same time.
This means that in addition to building lean mass, the explosive nature of the swing also gets your heart rate up into the aerobic zone – a win-win for those dreading another long-winded run on the treadmill.
Not to mention, the calorie burn that occurs during kettlebell swings is pretty amazing.
For instance, a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that during a 20-minute kettlebell workout, participants burned 13.6 calories per minute aerobically and 6.6 calories per minute anaerobically.
This translated into burning an average of 20.2 calories per minute, which researchers claimed was “off the charts,” and was the equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace.
3. Increased Fat Burn
If you’re not convinced of the magical power of kettlebells yet, you’re about to be.
What if I told you that studies show that high-intensity workouts (like those we get when working with kettlebells) can actually increase your metabolism by up to 4.2 percent for up to 48 hours after your workout?
Magic aside, there is actually a scientific explanation behind this wonderful effect.
This phenomenon is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC, and it’s the amount of calories you burn in the hours following a workout.
It turns out that high-intensity resistance exercise is the best way to increase EPOC, specifically due to it being so intense.
You see, during a workout we begin to lose oxygen (hence becoming out of breath), lactic acid builds in our muscles, and microscopic tears occur in our muscles from our resistance work. Following a workout, the body has to work overtime to restore our oxygen levels, clear the lactic acid, and repair our muscles.
All of these processes require more calories than usual, which results in an increase in metabolism and, subsequently, fat burn.
4. Improved Posture and Less Back Pain
Kettlebell swings are one of the best exercises to strengthen the posterior chain – the group of muscles running along your back side that includes your glutes, back, hamstrings, and part of your core.
Because of this, kettlebell swings can help to correct forward slouching by strengthening the posterior muscles that are weakened and “loose” from excessive sitting.
Research also shows that working with kettlebells can alleviate low back pain. One study found that participants with musculoskeletal pain had reduced pain intensity in their necks, shoulders and lower backs after completing an eight-week kettlebell workout program (3).
The reason many people experience back pain relief when strengthening the core and posterior chain is because these muscles create a literal muscle “cushion” around our spine, preventing unnatural movement and alleviating excess pressure.
5. Building Lean Muscle
Unlike hanging out in the weights area of a gym which can often feel intimidating for women, especially those women who feel they are out of shape or ‘too old to lift weights’, learning to work with a kettlebell can be a great first step in beginning your journey into strength and resistance training with weights. In fact, kettlebells are the best way to introduce yourself to strength training without the fear of injury as they can be more compatible with the body shape and size of women in relation to holding and moving.
Plus working with weights in this way and building lean muscle will not only increase your metabolism, which ultimately results in fatloss and a leaner body but can ultimately stall the ageing process too!
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