New 60 Minute Kettlebell Routine

Over the past few weeks, Michael,  Michele and I have been following the kettlebell workout routine developed by kettlebell fitness expert Jeff Hopeck.  Jeff invited me to one of his classes at the Main Event Fitness Center in northwest Atlanta and I have incorporated one of Jeff’s routines into our morning routine.

Currently Michael, Michele and I are undertaking a kettlebell workout at least two times a week – right now, both Michael and I play in a recreactional basketball league and we have not summoned the willpower or energy to pump kettlebells the day after a basketball game.

I will go into each exercise more specifically in blog posts to come, but for now, here are the six exercises that we have learned from Jeff Hopeck:

  1. squat/raise with a single kettlebell
  2. bicep raise and balance with two kettlebells
  3. kettlebell squat and swing with one kettlebell
  4. swing, toss and raise with one kettlebell
  5. core leg lift on the mat with two kettlebells
  6. reverse lunge with two kettlebells

Our routine is to start with ten repetitions of each exercise, then nine, then eight.  Rest for five minutes, then do seven reps, six reps and five reps.  Take another five minute rest.   Finish with four, three, two and one rep.

We finished up with interval sprints for 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, although there was probably more talking than what would be optimal.

The entire kettlebell portion of the workout takes about an hour and it is exhausting.  I feel that we easily are packing in 2 to 2 1/2 hours of workout into sixty minutes.

Stay tuned for more variations of these exercises and videos. 

[tags] kettlebells, kettlebell exercises, core exercise, bicep curl, Jeff Hopeck [/tags]

Importance of Breathing Correctly During Kettlebell Workout

This afternoon, Michael Siegel and I met with Atlanta based kettlebell trainer Jeff Hopeck to discuss our training program and Jeff’s forthcoming kettlebell training DVDs.

Jeff will be making regular contributions to this blog in weeks to come and he mentioned a less well known component of kettlebell workouts – proper breathing techniques.

Kettlebell exercises have the advantage of compressing several hours worth of traditional exercise into one-half to one-third of the time, but you must incorporate the right breathing into the exercises to maximize your exertion and to avoid injury.  Proper breathing also underlies the aerobic component of kettlebell exercises.

Jeff will be demonstrating some of these breathing techniques in future posts and we are glad to tap into his expertise.

[tags] kettlebell exercises, exercise breathing techniques, Jeff Hopeck [/tags]

Swiss Ball Exercises

Michael demonstrates kettlebell exercises on the Swiss ball.

Kettlebell Swing

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Kettlebell swing

Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells vs. Exercise machines

KettlebellsIf you have ever worked out with kettlebells, you know that a kettlebell workout differs significantly from free weight or dumbbell exercises.  Although kettlebells may be equivalent in weight to dumbbells, they engage different muscles because the center of gravity in a kettlebell exists on a vertical rather than a horizontal plane.

When, for example you initially grip a kettlebell placed on the floor, you hold it by a handle.   As you  begin lifting the kettlebell, you are engaged in a pulling motion.  As you raise the kettlebell, its center of gravity relative to your body begins to shift and at approximately shoulder height, the pull on your bicep, tricep and shoulder muscles becomes a pushing motion.

The effect of this change in the center of gravity in this sample exercise is to engage stabilizing muscles at multiple points in and around your arm and core.  By contrast, a standard biceps curl engages only those stabilizing muscles necessary to support your arm in a single plane of motion.

While kettlebells offer advantages over dumbbells, both are far superior to using exercise machines commonly found in exercise gyms.  This past Thursday, my regular workout partner, Michael, and I conducted an experiment to examine this difference.  The exercise we selected was an overhead triceps curl.  Our regular triceps exercise involves lying on an exercise ball with arms extended overhead, grabbing a 70lb. weight and raising 45 degrees until the weight is directly overhead.  My maximum for this exercise is currently 70 lbs. and Michael’s is 75.

Exercise ballWe decided to test our capacity on a pulldown machine, which triggers approximately the same muscles.  Each of us was able to comfortably pull down close to 150 lbs.  The reason – the pulldown machine does not engage any stabilizing muscles and requires movement in only one plane.  All muscle energy can be focused on one controlled movement.  This machine might be helpful building bulk, but I suspect that it would not be helpful creating strength.

Our next step is to substitute a kettlebell for the dumbbell in our exercise ball routine.  I would imagine that the center of gravity weight shift will occur at about a 20 degrees angle of lift.