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Getting acquainted with kettlebells at home or the gym should be high on your priority list if you’re hoping to build upper body strength during your workouts.
And who better to show us the best moves than Edward Hyde, an accredited kettlebell instructor who’s helped Olympic athletes work on their form.
“Kettlebell training is a fantastic way to build bilateral and unilateral strength, balance the body, stabilise and strengthen the core,” explains Hyde, who’s also a PT and owner of Rom Gym.
Below, Hyde has shared his favourite kettlebell routine with HuffPost UK. Complete each move for one minute for a fast but effective five-minute workout. Choose a weight that’s right for you. If you’re a newbie, start light.)
1. Offset kneeling overhead press
This setup is fairly simple: the arm working should be opposite to the knee stabilising. Select a weight which will challenge you but one you can control with good form.
Set your training arm elbow slightly in front of the shoulder, parallel to floor, take a nice deep breath and set your core (this will keep your foundations strong and will help to keep you balanced avoiding lateral flexion, aka side bend!). Then press overhead avoiding an aggressive elbow lockout. This particular exercise should challenge the core, building strength and integrity through the shoulder and triceps.
2. Standing windmill
To set up the kettlebell windmill, select a weight that will challenge you and enable you to keep the arm extended overhead for a period of time. Set your feet slightly wider than hip width to gain a powerful, solid stance. Set your kettle in hand (handle hooked over thumb and flat of bell resting on back of hand). It’s good to keep visual contact with the weight. Now, keeping the opposing shoulder relaxed, draw your belly button in towards spine to set the core.
For the actual movement, drive your working hip back, near enough extending your leg fully at knee. While maintaining eye contact with the kettlebell, slowly search for the floor with your opposing hand then slowly reset the movement back to the beginning. Target areas: core strength and shoulder stability.
3. Back supported single arm chest press
Challenge your lower body bilaterally while gaining strength unilaterally through the chest. For this movement we’ll need something solid around knee height to support upper back (scapula) and neck. Again, select a kettlebell that will challenge you enough but enable you to maintain good form throughout. Don′t be tempted to go in too heavy, longevity is key! If you’ve ever performed a glute bridge this will make sense.
Set your upper back on a bench or stable object, keep your hips fully extended towards ceiling, engage your glutes and place the bell in the hook of your thumb behind your hand. Keep your opposing arm free from the body to challenge the core to stabilise you throughout, now press the bell directly up over chest whilst keeping the elbow approximately 45 degrees from the shoulder. Slowly reset the movement so elbow is level with torso and go again. Once you’ve achieved your rep range, swap arms and go again. This movement gives a lot of bang for its buck: posterior chain engagement, core stability and unilateral pectoral strength.
4. Single arm kettlebell row
A movement often butchered on the gym floor, the humble kettlebell single arm row. Set your feet wider than shoulder width apart and don’t stagger your stance (a staggered stance will encourage you to hitch your hip down whilst pulling the bell up, taking the tension off the target muscle group). Place your non-working hand on an immovable object around hip height by slightly softening the knees and driving the hips back, maintaining a neutral spine.
Hips and shoulders should be level the whole time, while performing the row with a solid core. Use a moderately heavy load in the hook of hand with a firm grip and lever arch your elbow up and back towards the hip. Don’t be tempted to over pull and drive the elbow too high. This can twist the hips and jeopardise the intended purpose. Target areas: lats, traps, core and bicep.
5. Standing plank with kettlebell reach under
Challenge the core and shoulders with this plank adaptation! Set up in a press up position with hands directly under shoulders, and engage your core by pulling your belly button into your spine.
Select a hand to begin movement and drag your kettlebell to the opposite side of body while maintaining steady hips with minimal rotation (top tip: the further you move the kettlebell the harder it is for the opposing side). You can either set a timer or select a volume of reps to complete the workout! Target areas: core strength, shoulder stability.
Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.