Keeping a kettlebell at the home or office is a great way to recharge during a 15-minute break from the computer.
Not everyone has a wide variety of bells to choose from and some people have only one bell, often a relatively light beginner bell and they quickly outgrow it… or so they think.
With a little creativity you will find plenty of ways to make a light bell seem heavier than it should and keep your strength gains coming.
Here are just a few examples of how to squeeze more out of a given size bell. Each list is arranged from easiest to hardest. Aside from doing more reps or taking less rest… when a particular version of a technique begins to feel easy, start working on one of the versions further down the list. Safety is always a priority and so is your dignity, for that reason you will never attempt any kettlebell exercise while standing on a bosu ball or standing on a kettlebell. [Note: If your idea of kettlebell training involves doing a single leg squat atop a kettlebell… you’re doing it wrong.]
This list is by no means exhaustive and with a little imagination I could easily double the variations shown below.
With variations like these I can keep a 16kg kettlebell challenging although I can readily swing, bent press, squat and do getups with a bell three times that size. I’m not trying to brag, there are many stronger people in the world… but, my point is this:
Strength is a choice: If you have a kettlebell you think you’ve outgrown, you’re probably wrong.
Enjoy & Don’t forget to share this post if you do!
Easiest: Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift
Harder: Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift from an elevation
Harder: Single arm suitcase deadlift
Harder: Single Leg Kettlebell Deadlift
KETTLEBELL HIP HINGE
Easiest: Two Hand Swing
Harder: Hand to Hand Swing
Harder: One Hand Swing
Harder: High Pulls
Easiest: Push Press
Harder: Military Press
Harder: Bent Press
Harder: Military Press Blind Folded, Standing on one leg… or both.
Harder: Tall Kneeling Military Press (Blind folded too)
Harder: Press Up, 1/4 the way down & back up, 1/2 the way down & back up, 3/4 down then up.
Harder: Seated On The Floor Press
Harder: Press from the bottom of the squat
Harder: Press while seated in the splits
Easiest: Partial Getups
Harder: Full Getups
Harder: Full Getups with several presses on the way to standing.
Harder: Slow Motion Getups: 1 minute + per repetition.
Harder: Continuous getups for up to 5 reps without setting the bell down before switching hands.
Easiest: Goblet Squat
Harder: Reactive Goblet Squats (Engum)
Harder: Goblet squat with the bell held upside down (bottom up)
Harder: Goblet Squat with a 10 second pause in the bottom while shaking the bell vigorously. (Dan John)
Harder: Front Squat
Harder: Cossack Squat
Harder: Bottom Up Front Squat
Harder: Goblet Squat with the bell held overhead
Harder: Single Arm Overhead Squat (hold the bell overhead with one arm locked out and squat)
Harder: Pistol (a.k.a. Single Leg Squat)
Harder: Racked Pistol
Harder: Botom Up Racked Pistol
Harder: Overhead Pistol
Easiest: Cheat Clean with both hands
Harder: Clean (standard)
Harder: Dead Clean with no backward hike pass between reps.
Harder: Bottom Up Clean
Harder: Add a 15 seconds hold/pause in the rack position between reps.
KETTLEBELL JUGGLING Kettlebell juggling sounds scary, but it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. You will need to perform these outside of course where the bells won’t bounce.
Easiest: Two Hand Release & Catch at the top of the swing
Harder: Hand to Hand Release & Catch
Harder: One Hand Release & Catch
Harder: Hand to Hand Release into a flip & catch
Harder: One Hand Release into a flip & catch
Harder: One Hand release into a helicopter spin & catch
(For a greater list of kettlebell juggling techniques and progressions I recommend the works of Jeff Martone and Gus Peterson)
Like most kettlebell techniques, the Kettlebell Clean & Press is a full-body compound exercise that challenges muscles from your hands all the way down to your feet. When performed using RKC Hardstyle methods the press becomes a great way not only build strong shoulders but strong lats and abs. For strength it is generally recommended to perform sets of 1-10 reps using a weight that is between 40% & 80% of your one rep max.
Some benefits of the kettlebell clean and press over free weights and machines.
The design of the kettlebell allows you to maintain a neutral wrist position which is safer for the wrists and challenges the forearm muscles to a greater degree.
The design of the kettlebell allows you to use a greater range of motion without the bar or awkward ends of heavy dumbbells getting in your way. A greater range of motion means building more strength, burning more calories, building more flexibility and it just feels awesome.
Kettlebells allow you to rotate your wrists and shoulders into a natural position that is safe for you versus being jammed into an odd position by a bar or machine.
Kettlebells allow you use your natural pressing groove that is safest and strongest for your shoulders whereas bars force your shoulders to move in a way that may not be suitable for you, or machines that force you to follow a linear path placing shearing forces on your joints.
Kettlebells can be recleaned by hiking them and accelerating them backward between your legs. This large range of motion cannot be duplicated with barbells and is too awkward with heavy dumbbells. The result is a greater cardio workout and developing explosive power through a large range of motion.
While the kettlebell is an excellent tool for the clean & press one of the biggest drawbacks is that it becomes impractical to clean & press heavier than 212 lbs since most kettlebell manufactures only make bells up to 106lbs. I have seen kettlebells that are heavier but the price of such kettlebells are prohibitive and the size becomes unwieldy. However 2 35lb kettlebell and 2 70lb kettlebell is enough to keep most men and women challenged for a lifetime.
The Clean is where you bring the weight up to your shoulder in one clean movement.
The Press is simply pressing the kettlebell overhead from your shoulder.
When you lower then re-clean the weight between each press your performing the “Clean & Press”
When you clean the weight once then perform multiple presses in a row this is called a “Military Press.”
Before performing this technique in high volume I strongly advise taking time to develop the adequate shoulder mobility & stability to get your arm into a safe lockout position and hold a given weight there comfortably. In general you should be able to hold the weight overhead for at least 30 seconds before you begin doing presses with it. The best way to go about all of this is spend several weeks practicing things like pump stretches, “Brettzels”, the Turkish Getup, and Walks with the weight in the overhead lockout position.
Assume the ready position with the kettlebell(s) on the ground in front of you.
Hike the bell(s) backward between your legs.
Quick stand up, keeping your armpit(s) shut and your elbow(s) glued low to your side.
Quickly accelerate your hand(s) around the kettlebell(s) and catch the bell(s) softly between your upper and lower arm.
Lower the bell(s) by quickly pushing your hips backward, hiking the kettlebell(s) behind you then lettingthe kettlebell(s) pendulum forward to a rest in front of you.
The press is simply (not necessarily easily) pressing the kettlebell overhead.
From the Rack position sniff in some air and get tight from the armpits down to your toes.
Initiate the press with grunt to pressurize your midsection and protect your back.
Keeping your forearms vertical drive your elbows outward and up.
Full extend your arms and lockout with your biceps behind your ears.
Lower the bells by pulling your elbows down in front of you keeping your midsection tense and return the bells to the rack position.
From here you can set the bells down, perform another clean or go directly into the next rep.