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Basic Kettlebell Exercises

The kettlebell is a strength and condition training device, traditionally utilized by Eastern European athletes. It is a cast iron weight, similar in size and shape to a soccer ball, fashioned with a handle on top. It was developed in Russia, where it's called a girya, and can be found described in that country's literature as early as 1704. However, the kettlebell has, in recent decades, earned worldwide acclaim as a favorable tool of elite athletes. Bodybuilding icon Sig Klein said, "I have always found the kettlebell to be one of the most useful and fascinating pieces of weight training apparatus." He went on to state, "You will have to hunt for a long time to find a more versatile piece of training equipment." The kettlebell is designed to increase strength, endurance and agility. These simple routines are geared toward building lean, hard muscle while burning fat and improving balance. Each one can be repeated for 12 to 20 repetitions, depending on your condition.

Kettlebell Clean
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, placing one kettlebell on the ground between your legs. Bow forward slightly at the waist, while keeping your back and torso in a straight line. Bend at the knees as if preparing to jump. Use one hand to grab the kettlebell handle, with the top knuckles facing away from your body. Stand to an erect posture in an explosive manner, while pulling the kettlebell up in a straight line. Keep the weight as close to your torso as possible, lifting it just above shoulder height. As the weight reaches the upper part of your chest, flip your hand up so that the palm faces outward. Simultaneously move the weight toward the same-side shoulder, so that it rests just behind. Repeat the motion in the opposite direction. Just before the kettlebell reaches the floor, however, push up into another repetition.

Kettlebell Swing
Stand in the same posture as the clean, but hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your pelvis. Lean forward and bend down slightly, swinging the weight backward between your legs. As the kettlebell returns to the front, use the momentum in raising both arms from the shoulders. Keep your arms rigid, as you attempt to raise the kettlebell straight out from your chest. Allow the weight to swing back down, and repeat the cycle.

This exercise requires two kettlebells. Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one weight in either hand, placing the other on the ground between your legs. Extend the weighted arm fully overhead. As you hold the kettlebell in this position, slowly lean forward and down at the waist. Use your free hand to grab the kettlebell from the ground. Lift it off the floor in a straight line, until your posture is again erect. Reverse the motion, repeating the lift just before the weight touches the floor.