Kettlebell 101: w/ help from Eric Leija.

I recently started looking for new ways to mix up my workouts, specifically speaking, my leg day regimen. I was getting pretty tired of the usual Barbell squats, and the deadlifts. I needed something new, something I’ve never tried before and one day my good friend Sean Howard sent me an Instagram account that inspired me to look further into doing kettlebell training.

Eric Leija, @primal.swoledier, a Kettlebell Coach based in Austin Texas. One look at Eric’s instagram and I was sold to get started. Now mind you, I used to work at a gym that taught kettlebells but I’ve never taken a class. I think it’s because I was intimidated by the movement and felt I would look awkward throwing kettlebells around the gym. (the imagery that popped in my head while writing this. lol)

However, Eric motivated me to give Kettlebells a shot and I must say I prefer Kettlebells over the standard barbells, however, I will still keep them in my regimen and switch back and forth. The day after training, BOY, my legs hurt like hell but it’s a good hurt, a sexy hurt.

From Eric’s IG, I performed a ton of different exercises he shares. I have listed the basics below, however, there are a few that aren’t listed. They are:

 

To help you out even further, and by chance Eric’s workout seems too intense. I have laid out a beginners regimen, below, to help you get started. Remember, you can start whenever. You do not have to be in shape to do so.

Update me in the comment section below on your progress. I would love to hear.

 

BASIC KETTLEBELL MOVEMENTS

 
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DEADLIFT:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart as you did for the wall drill.

  • Place a kettlebell on the floor between your feet; it should be in line with the arches of your feet or your ankles, whichever is most appropriate for your level of mobility.

  • While maintaining a neutral spine, inhale through your nose as you hinge at the hips and reach down for the bell with your hands. If you cannot reach the bell without rounding your back, place something stable underneath the bell to elevate it to a position that allows you to reach it with proper form.

  • Grip the bell firmly and exhale with a power breath (as shown in the video above) to complete the move in the standing plank position.


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LUNGE PASS THROUGH

  • Stand with your torso upright holding a kettlebell in your right hand. This will be your starting position.

  • Step forward with your left foot and lower your upper body down by flexing the hip and the knee, keeping the torso upright. Lower your back knee until it nearly touches the ground.

  • As you lunge, pass the kettlebell under your front leg to your opposite hand.

  • Pressing through the heel of your foot, return to the starting position.

  • Repeat the movement for the recommended amount of repetitions, alternating legs.

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SINGLE-ARM FRONT SQUAT:

  • Use your left hand to pick up the kettlebell.

  • As you move the kettlebell into the rack position, ensure that your elbow is by your side, your palm is facing in, and all of the weight is located in front of your left shoulder.

  • Push your hips back and drop into a squat position, making sure that your thighs remain parallel with the floor. Push through your heels as you move back up into a standing position.

  • Perform 8-10 repetitions on each side.

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KETTLEBELL FRONT SQUAT STEPS

  1. Use the handle of the kettlebell to hold it close to your chest while you get into a comfortable stance.

  2. As you squat, bring your knees out so that the kettlebell can be placed between them.

  3. Maintain your focus straight ahead and squat as low as you can, pausing once you hit the bottom of the squat.

  4. Keep your spin straight and your head and chest up at all times.

  5. Drive through the heels as you rise back up.

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KETTLEBELL SWING

  • Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and stand in a spine-neutral position.

  • Place your arms in front of your body and use both hands, palms down, to hold the kettlebell.

  • With your knees bent slightly and hips thrust back, adopt a squat like position, but refrain from going as far down.

  • Using a fluid, explosive motion, drive your hips forward while swinging the kettlebell forward and up to shoulder height. You should feel your hips and glutes engaging in this motion. It is those muscles that should be doing the work, not your arms.

  • The kettlebell should then be lowered back between your legs and the swinging motion repeated for 12-15 repetitions. The actual number of reps will depend on the weight of your kettle bell and specific exercise routine.

—WARD