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by Liam O'Brien Personal Trainer Kettlebell Instructor Pontefract, West Yorkshire
Liam O'Brien – www.liamobrien.co.uk – All Rights Reserved
About the author Liam O'Brien is a Personal Trainer and Kettlebell Instructor based in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. He works all over the region including Leeds, Wakefield and the 5 Towns. He has been a Personal Trainer for just 3 years but has been working in the fitness industry for more than a decade. He is a keen Judo player and trains with Knottingley Judo club; runs regularly - mainly middle distance, and also competes in triathlon. You can visit his website at www.liamobrien.co.uk
Contents The history of kettlebells the exercises − swing − power snatch − power clean − deadlift − turkish get up (TGU) − front squat − chest press − lunge − tricep extension − russian twists workouts - snatch - clean - military press - windmill - high pull - around the body - single arm row - bicep curl - upright row - side bends
Liam O'Brien – www.liamobrien.co.uk – All Rights Reserved
and as your confidence grows you can move onto more complex routines with double kettlebells or heavier weights. A properly executed and balanced kettlebell workout will work every muscle in the body. Such was their popularity in Russia that any strongman or weightlifter was referred to as a girevik. This creates an extra axis on movements like the swing and the snatch. absorb and develop the additional momentum. Kettlebells are now widely regarded as the ultimate training tool for all round fitness and physical development and are even being used by some physiotherapists to aid injury rehabilitation. or 'a kettlebell man'. making the movement more than just strength and forcing the body to overcome. and the Chinese say that the giant padlocks used by the Shaolin monks were the original kettlebells. they go as far back as the 1700's where it was first seen in a Russian dictionary in 1704. The main reason that the kettlebell is such a fantastic tool is due to the handle being outside of the mass of the bell. They are still used by the American and Russian military today as well as Hollywood stars and professional sports players. They are used by Chelsea and Liverpool football clubs and Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos rugby teams.co. The Scots will claim that they invented the kettlebell as part of the Highland Games.uk – All Rights Reserved 3 . The actual origin of the kettlebell however will always be subject to debate.liamobrien. Liam O'Brien – www.The history of kettlebells A kettlebell or girya is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. Although the kettlebell is fairly new to the UK.
uk – All Rights Reserved 4 . When performed correctly it develops a strong posterior chain (glutes. Feet should be slightly wider than hip distance apart.liamobrien. hamstrings and erector spinae muscles).The swing The swing is a fantastic exercise and forms the basis of many kettlebell moves. Muscles used: glutes hamstrings erector spinae lower abdominals Start position The bell should be held across the top of the handle and deadlifted from the floor. 'proper execution of the swing alone is superior to 99% of the sophisticated strength and conditioning programs' Steve Maxwell.The exercises 1 .co. glutes tight with chest high and shoulders back. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion and Senior Russian Kettlebell Instructor. Liam O'Brien – www. lower abdominals and overall power. spine in neutral.
highly effective exercise. At the top of the movement the bell should feel like it hangs in the air for a moment. The bell should be swung in an up and out movement. A difficult yet when perfected. Legs should be slightly bent. drawing the bell between the legs ready for the next repetition.co. The kettlebell should be propelled forward by driving the hips forward in a 'thrusting' motion. extending the hips and pushing the bell away from you rather than above you. pushing the heels hard into the ground and locking the knees as the bell reaches the top. Abs and glutes should be tight. the momentum comes from the hip 'snap' or 'thrust'.liamobrien. as if weightless.Lifting phase The move should be initiated by swinging the weight backwards between the legs. At all times the chest should be high in relation to the spine and the chin up.uk – All Rights Reserved 5 . The backside should be pushed back with the chest remaining up and the lower back very slightly arched. Lowering phase As the bell starts to drop. Muscles used: glutes hamstrings erector spinae trapezius deltoids Liam O'Brien – www. let your arms drop with the weight and then push the backside out again. This type of 'snap' movement should mean that the arms are only used to guide the bell up. Variations single handed swing alternating swing double kettlebell swing rotating or travelling swing 2 – The snatch The snatch requires excellent co-ordination with explosive power.
Variations Double or alternating snatch. Let the weight do the work on the downward phase. then driven forwards and ultimately overhead.Start position The bell should be held in one hand resting on the front of the thigh.uk – All Rights Reserved 6 . The bell should be rolled around the wrist (rather than over the top) before locking out the elbow above the head. Muscles used: glutes / quads erector spinae / trapezius deltoids Liam O'Brien – www. Lowering phase The bell should again be rolled around the wrist and swung back between the legs ready for the next repetition. keeping your arm straight. 3. with power from the thighs.The power snatch The power snatch differs from the regular snatch in that it replaces the power and momentum gained from the 'thrust' of the hips.co. Lifting phase The bell should be swung back between the legs as in a single hand swing.liamobrien. with the hips.
Muscles used: glutes hamstrings erector spinae deltoids trapezius Start position The bell should be held in one hand as per the single handed swing. controlled power from the hips. thumb pointing backwards between the legs. again keeping the hand close to the body and the back straight. Flip the bell over and drive upwards with shoulders until both shoulder and arm are locked out.co. With a shrug and upright row bring the bell towards shoulder height keeping the hand close to the body at all times with the thumb practically brushing the body. 4 . You should keep a straight back throughout this movement. the clean can also be used as a safe and effective way to raise a kettlebell to the racking position. Lifting phase The bell should be lowered towards the floor.The clean The clean is another exercise that requires explosive.Start position The bell should be held in one hand. Liam O'Brien – www.liamobrien. head up. Then with an explosive upward push from the thighs drive the bell upwards. Back straight. Lowering phase Flip the bell back over your hand and lower to the start position. An exercise in its own right.uk – All Rights Reserved 7 . glutes and hamstrings. dropping the backside and bending at the knee with a straight back and head up.
Before reaching the horizontal.co.Lifting phase The bell should be swung back between the legs and then. chest up.liamobrien. head high. extend the arm and let the weight of the bell bring you back to the start position. Lowering phase Flip the bell back over and return to the start position. the bell should be rolled around the wrist and pulled into the racking position. Failure to roll the bell around the wrist will result in the bell making contact with your forearm with some force! Your back should be straight throughout with a strong chest position.uk – All Rights Reserved 8 . Lowering phase Roll the bell around the outside of the forearm. using the hips driven upwards as per a regular swing. Flip the bell over your hand and pull into the racking position. Liam O'Brien – www. head up. thumb pointing backwards between the legs. Back should remain straight throughout. With an explosive drive the bell should be raised toward the shoulder. dropping the backside and bending at the knees. Lifting phase The bell should be lowered towards the floor with the back straight. the power clean utilises power from the thighs to replace the swing motion. Variations double or alternating clean 5 – Power clean As with the power snatch. Back straight. Start position The bell should be held in one hand.
glutes and abs tight and back straight. Return to the front racking position and repeat. Variations double press alternating press 7 – Deadlift Start position Stand with feet a little over shoulder width apart. Head and chest up.uk – All Rights Reserved 9 . Muscles used: glutes quads erector spinae Liam O'Brien – www.co. Muscles used: deltoids triceps Start position The bell should be in the racking position.6 – Military press Although this move is often performed with a dumbbell or barbell. toes pointing very slightly outwards. Lifting / lowering phase The bell should be driven upwards with the arm held locked and behind the ear to finish.liamobrien. extra stability is required throughout the shoulder joint when performed with a kettlebell. Take the bell with a double handed grip.
Muscles used: obliques shoulder stabilisers hamstrings Start position With your right hand.co. squeeze the glutes together and flex the quads. Variations double deadlift 8 – The windmill (demonstrated by Lisa Rutherford) The windmill is a great exercise for developing shoulder stability.Lowering / lifting phase Keeping a straight back.liamobrien. The back should be upright and straight throughout. clean the kettlebell up to the racking position. bend the knees and sit back whilst lowering the bell towards the floor. core strength and flexibility. At the top of the repetition. then press to upright (or snatch to upright). Then drive upwards using the quads and keeping the arms straight and weight between legs. With the bell in the right hand turn both feet Liam O'Brien – www.uk – All Rights Reserved 10 .
Lowering phase Reverse the actions and return to the start position. Your right leg should be vertical with the hip directly over the foot. The left leg should be flat on the floor. Left arm should be flat on the floor. Place the bell on the floor Liam O'Brien – www.co. Start position Lie flat on your back with your right arm extended vertically. into a kneeling position. Slowly return to the start position ‘walking’ the hand back up the right leg. Push or ‘roll’ yourself up so that you are resting on your left hand. 9 – The turkish get up (TGU) A favourite of many MMA practitioners. reach down towards the right foot whilst looking upwards toward the kettlebell. Lifting phase Place your right foot on the ground with a bent knee at approximately 45° to the body. but at 90° to the body.liamobrien. The right arm holding the kettlebell should remain vertical at all times. The arm should remain perfectly vertical throughout. kettlebell in hand. push the hips out to the right.uk – All Rights Reserved 11 . Raise your hips and swing the left leg underneath the body and with a push of the left hand. Lowering / lifting phase With your free hand. Swap hands and repeat.to the left and with a definite motion. Regain balance and stand upright.
liamobrien. Then drive upwards using the quads and keeping the arms straight and weight between legs.to the right of the body and push/pull it around the top of the head to the other hand. glutes and abs tight and back straight. shrug and upright row the bell to the chin. Lower the bell to the start position. 10 – The high pull The high pull is a combination of a deadlift and an upright row. Muscles used: glutes quads erector spinae trapezius/ deltoids Start position Stand with feet a little over shoulder width apart. Raise the bell with the left hand and repeat the exercise. toes pointing very slightly outwards. As you lock at the knees. Liam O'Brien – www.co. Head and chest up. controlled exercise. Take the bell with a double handed grip. Lowering / lifting phase Keeping a straight back.uk – All Rights Reserved 12 . Do not lift the bell over the face. This should be slow. bend the knees and sit back whilst lowering the bell towards the floor.
Aim to get as close to the floor as possible with your hamstrings almost touching your calves. with feet just over hip distance apart. Lowering Phase: Drop into a full squat position. drive upwards thorough the heels to the start position.11 – The front squat Muscles used: glutes / quads hamstrings erector spinae Start position Clean the bell into the racking position. keeping your back upright and core tight. feet hip distance apart. Lifting phase With an intake of breath and maintaining a neutral spine. Liam O'Brien – www. Variations Double front squat Overhead squat 12 – Around the body Muscles used: glutes quads erector spinae Start position Hold the bell in one hand with knees relaxed and slightly bent.liamobrien.co.uk – All Rights Reserved 13 .
Lifting / lowering phase Start to move the bell by swinging the weight out.uk – All Rights Reserved 14 . and then as you extend your arm.co. Lifting / lowering phase Push the bell(s) upwards locking out the arms. 13 – Chest press (pictured as alternate) Muscles used: pectorals deltoids triceps Start position Lie on your back with a bell in one hand (or as in photo. each hand). Liam O'Brien – www. Lower and repeat.liamobrien. pass the weight to the other hand. Repeat in both directions. Alternatively one bell with both hands if a heavier kettlebell is being used. Swing the weight around your back and again switch hands.
co. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and rotate the trunk. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise.liamobrien.Variations Double or Alternate Press 14 – Single arm row Muscles used: latissimus dorsi trapezius rhomboids biceps Start position Stand with one foot forward. 15 – Lunge Muscles used: glutes hamstrings quads erector spinae abdominals Liam O'Brien – www. with both feet pointing forwards. arm resting on the front knee. Lifting / lowering phase Lift the bell.uk – All Rights Reserved 15 . keeping the elbow tight to the body.
Start position Holding the bell by the horns tight against your upper chest. with no body 'swing'. Liam O'Brien – www. Lifting / lowering phase Curl the bell towards the chest. Lifting / lowering phase Step into a lunge ensuring that you keep a straight back throughout. Return to standing and repeat.uk – All Rights Reserved 16 .co.liamobrien. Return and repeat. with abs tight and shoulders back. Variation Backward Lunge 16 – Bicep curls Start position Hold the bell by the horns (or upside down by the horns if preferred) Lock up core and keep back straight.
Lifting / lowering phase Bend the elbows and lower behind the head.17 – Tricep extension Start position Hold the bell in a reverse or upside down horns position.co. and lift straight overhead. Contract triceps and raise bell to start position overhead. Lock up the core.liamobrien.uk – All Rights Reserved 17 . 18 – Upright row Muscles used: trapezius deltoids biceps Liam O'Brien – www.
glutes and abs tight and back straight. Liam O'Brien – www. Take the bell with a double handed grip.Start position Stand with feet a little over shoulder width apart. slowly lower and repeat.liamobrien. knees slightly bent. Lifting / lowering phase Upright row the weight to the chin. toes pointing very slightly outwards. Head and chest up.co. Hold your feet off of the floor (cross your feet if easier). Lift the bell back over your legs and to the other side. Lifting / lowering phase Rotate the bell to the side of your body without letting it touch the floor.uk – All Rights Reserved 18 . Hold the bell with both hands in front of you. 19 – Russian twists Muscles used: hip flexors obliques Start position Sit on the floor with legs out straight. Try and push the bell behind your body. again without letting it actually touch the floor.
resting against the side of your body. Deadlift x 15 reps 2. Perform the entire workout with a single kettlebell. workouts should be preceded by a proper warm up and pre stretch and followed by a gradual cool down and full stretch. Single Arm Row x 10 reps each hand. High Pull x 15 reps 5. Keeping a straight body position. Liam O'Brien – www. 1. Workouts As with all strength or conditioning training. Chest Press x 10 reps each hand or 20 together 6.uk – All Rights Reserved 19 . Military Press x 10 reps each hand or 20 together 4. Strength and endurance The following workout is designed to maximise calorie burn whilst developing whole body muscular strength.20 – Side bends Muscles used: obliques Start Position Hold a bell in one hand. Front Squat x 10 reps each hand or 20 reps both hands together 3. Swap hands and repeat. return to the start position and then flex to the other side. Lifting / lowering phase Slide the bell down your side.liamobrien.co.
Power Snatch x 5 6.liamobrien. Clean x 5 3. Single Hand Swings x 5 Complete the entire sequence on one hand and then repeat this immediately with the other hand. Super singles This workout is ideal for people who have developed good technique with the major lifts. Single Hand Swings x 5 reps 2. speed.co. stability and skill to develop total body conditioning.uk – All Rights Reserved 20 .liamobrien. Snatch x 5 5. Power Clean x 5 8. 1. Power Clean and Push Press x 5 (Power Clean with Military Press) 7. Remember the number and complexity of kettlebell exercises is only limited by your imagination.uk Liam O'Brien – www. www. Clean and Jerk x 5 (Clean with Military Press) 4. 3 or more circuits! These exercises are the classic lifts and moves that combine strength.In between each exercise perform 10 double handed swings taking little or no rest between exercises. Rest as required then repeat for 2.co.