Tag Archives: kb swings

Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

Posted on 06. Mar, 2012 by .


Kettlebells (KB) have swept the mainstream fitness media and they are gaining popularity more than ever. [If you did not already recognize who the guy is in the picture above, it is Lance Armstrong.] This is most likely because of the convenience, effectiveness, and time-saving it provides to anyone who wishes to get lean and strong in as little as 20 minutes a day. So, the common question I get asked is: what are great kettlebell exercises for beginners? or what is a good kettelbell workout? While Youtube is great for looking up videos to answer these questions, it may not be the best source unless you know what you’re looking for.

Being a Russian Kettlebell Certified (RKC) Instructor, I decided to put together a video demonstrating the most foundational kettlebell exercise which is the swing. In this video, I go over tips on how to protect your hand as well as the biggest mistakes when performing kettlebell swings and how to correct them.

Please watch this video before you read the rest of the article:

You may feel that I talk about too many technical points in the video but each of them matters if you really want to do kettlebell swings properly. Doing them wrong can 1) hurt you and 2) make your workout less efficient which means you will burn less calories. If you want to take your learning even further, you may want to look for a Russian Kettlebell Certified Instructor in your local area to critique your form.

One more thing to think about before you perform any kettlebell exercise are the shoes you are wearing. Typically, running shoes are not ideal when performing kettlebell exercises. The thick cushion which running shoes have will basically hinder your feet from making full contact with the ground which may throw you off balance. For instance, if I were to perform kettlebel swings with a thick heel, the heel will make me lean forward to offset the weight of the kettlebell as it reaches shoulder height. So, if the heels were taken out, having more contact with ground will also help us become more stable and more strong for any kettlebell lift.

I showed you several ways you have more variety in your kettlebell workouts even if you just now the beginner exercises like the swing and goblet squat. Now, I’d like to show you a few different set-ups you can do so you can do this at home.

3 Samples of How to Set-up Beginner Kettlebell Workouts

Workout 1: Ladders Style

20 Kettlebell Swings
10 Goblet Squats

Start at the top of the reps at 20 and 5 reps. For each set, you will do 1 less repetition for the swings and doing 1 less repetition for every other set of goblet squats. Do this until you reach 1 rep for each exercise. This is how it goes:

Set 1: 20 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats
Set 2: 19 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats
Set 3: 18 Swings, 9 Goblet Squats
Set 4: 17 Swings, 9 Goblet Squats
Set 5: 16 Swings, 8 Goblet Squats
Set 6: 15 Swings, 8 Goblet Squats
All the way to 1 repetition for each exercise

Workout 2: Interval Style

30 seconds of Kettlebell Swings plus 30 seconds of Jump Rope equals 1 set.
Do 10 sets for a total of 10 minutes.

Note: If you are completely new to doing swings, you may want to start at 5 minutes and work your way up especially because you may get too sore the next few days.

Workout 3: Mixed Style

One set consists of:

30 seconds Kettlebell Swings
30 seconds Plank
30 seconds Forward Lunges
30 seconds Rest

Perform 5 sets for your first workout and work your way up as your strength and conditioning improves.

Just by looking at the 3 workouts above, you can have an idea of how much variety you can have with your workouts even if you only know 1-2 kettlebell exercises. If you actually go and do any of these workouts, you will find just how intense they can get even for a simple set-up like the one I detailed above.

When you’re ready to learn a new kettlebell exercise, watch this video where I teach the Turkish Get-Up (TGU) which is another fundamental kettlebell exercise:

Turkish Get-ups are different from swings wherein you have to really focus on doing each step slowly and carefully. In the RKC community, we call swings as a grinding movement whereas TGUs are more of a strength exercise. So, if I were to add TGUs to my kettlebell repertoire, I would do this at the beginning of a workout separate from the swings when I am still fresh. Then, I would perform any of the above workouts as a finisher.

I hope this post on kettlebell exercises for beginners has inspired you to start working with kettlebells and add more fun, intensity, and variety to your workouts. If you have any questions about the videos or the workouts or about kettlebells in general, please post them below and I’ll answer them when possible.

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5 Running Alternatives for People with Knee Problems

5 Running Alternatives for People with Knee Problems

Posted on 11. Jul, 2010 by .


As a fitness trainer who trains people with different backgrounds and walks of life, I have to be able to modify exercises in varying situations. A common issue that I see in a lot of my current clients is having knee problems due to past injury, arthritis, and other causes. Due to these issues, they can not perform certain exercises like running or jumping because either it hurts their knees or it would just be a bad idea because doing those exercises can aggravate the issues they’re already having.

So, I’ve compiled 5 different options that you can do if you are one of those people who do not want to further worsen your knee problems. This article can also help those people who are looking for an alternative to running which we all should do to avoid overuse injuries.

Alternative #1: The Rowing Machine

The rowing machine is the first one on this list because it provides a great, total body cardiovascular exercise and helps burn a ton of calories without causing knee joint problems later on. Because you are using mostly your upper body in this exercise, it is considered a low impact exercise. Many women can also benefit to switching to rowing instead of running because it helps increase your upper body strength which many women fitness begginers seem to lack. Plus, it will help give you a nice, toned look to your back when you wear back baring tops during the summer.


The rowing machines are usually empty when I go to the gym which is another benefit to using them – easy access. If you would rather use it at home, there are many simple and cheap rowing machines available in the market.

Alternative #2: The Stairmaster

Depending on what your knee problems are, the stairmaster provides simiar cardiovascular benefits compared to the treadmill if not better. However, some people may have trouble using these machines because of the angle that it puts your knees in during the stair climb. Even if it is low impact, make sure that your knees will fair well when you step up to each stair step. When in doubt, avoid using it.

For those people who can use the stairmaster, you can do interval training on it by varying time and intensity which is far easier to manipulate compared to the treadmill.

Alternative #3: Kettlebell Swings

I would have put this on #1 if not for the proper skills you will need in learning this movement. Kettlebells swings may seem so easy to do but a lot of people tend to have a difficult time executing this exercise properly even with proper instructions. It takes a few sessions with a certified kettlebell instructor and enough practice on your own to get this movement right.

Once you know how to properly perform kettlebell swings, you can get an amazing cardiovascular workout with one kettlebell in as little as 20 minutes a day. In addition to strengthening your core and your back, swings can also give your butt a nice, toned, lifted look that a lot of us are after. This exercise puts little to no impact on your knees and almost anyone can perform this exercise.

Alternative #4: Stationary Bikes

There are a few types of bikes that can be found at your local gym. These can range from stationary, upright, or indoor cycling bikes. Which one you choose depends on the angle that your knees can take. One thing you also have to keep in mind is the position of your back when sitting on the bike. The indoor cycling bikes, the ones that are used for spinning classes, are probably the ones that best mimic biking outdoors because of the many settings you can use to change your intensity. The stationary bikes provides the most back support because you can sit on it as if you’re sitting on a regular chair.


[A typical indoor cycling bike. Photo by Global Fitness]

One thing to note is you can still perform high and low intensity intervals on whichever bike you choose. Again, these are great low impact alternatives compared to running which helps your joints last longer.

Alternative #5: Walking Uphill

If you do not care to buy fancy equipment and you can not run, walking uphill beats walking on level ground. By walking uphill, you can increase strength in your lower body as it provides some resistance as you walk while also giving your heart enough challenge to give you cardiovascular fitness. You can do interval style training by walking uphill for the high intensity part and then walking downhill for your recovery period part of the workout.

As you can see, there are many options available to you even if you have bad knees. It is just a matter of finding what works for your specific situation. In the future, I will discuss exercise modifications for people with knee issues.

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Shape Ups or Easy Tone: An Alternative to Working Out?

Shape Ups or Easy Tone: An Alternative to Working Out?

Posted on 19. Jan, 2010 by .


As I watched t.v. on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I saw a bunch of ridiculous weight loss commercials. But, the 2 ads that stood out the most for me were those for Skechers’ Shape Ups and Reebok’s Easy Tone. Both companies claim that wearing their shoes will help you burn calories and give you more toned legs and a rounder butt. The price? These shoes cost as much as $110! Aside from the ridiculous claims, they also come with a ridiculous price. These claims stir up some anger in me – just imagine me looking angry with smoke coming out of my ears.

If you haven’t heard of these shoes, here is an ad for Shape Ups that I found on Youtube:

If you go to Skechers’ web site, you will find that they have testimonials and “research” that back up their claims. It says that wearing Shape Ups is like walking on sand – takes more effort which therefore burns more calories compared to walking on pavement. I’m not saying that you won’t burn more calories with these shoes. But, the calories burned just won’t be enough to make you see the results that they’re suggesting you would get. You want a cheaper alternative? Just go to the beach and walk/run there. No, seriously, here is a better alternative…

A Strategy for a Rounder Butt: Kettlebell Swings

You probably know by now that I am a big fan of kettlebells. The reason for this is it’s cheaper than a lot of fitness equipments out there but it is also very effective in giving you a great total body workout at home (or anywhere you wish). They’re definitely cheaper than these shoes that will not deliver on their claim and longer lasting as most kettlebells are probably indestructible.

Want tighter glutes and sexier legs? Do swings instead and eat less.

Here is a video that I created that demonstrates what good kettlebell (KB) swings should look like:

After putting my class through their very first workout of just swings, they report being sore for days at a time. This is not unusual as most people since a lot of us forget how or don’t know how to really squeeze or activate our glute muscles. Of course, this soreness goes to a more normal cycle of about a day or 2 once you’re used to doing swings.

From my experience, I saw that my glutes got much tighter and looked a lot better in my skinny jeans ever since I did KB swings as an alternative to my high intensity intervals. But, I didn’t see this right away. It took a good 3-5 months before I even saw a difference. I used to think that a person is born with a nice butt but I think that most people can achieve a nice, rounder looking behind if they just consistently worked on targeting them on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that target training is effective either. This kind of result can only be achieved with overall fat reduction. Reduce the fat on top of your butt muscle and exercise that muscle for that “toned” look. This is the only way results happen.

By now, I am immune to infomercials for ab equipments but I see these commercials for Shape Ups and Easy Tone as another generation for exploiting the public’s need for immediate gratification. I wish having a beach body was way easier. Believe me, I would be the first person to tell you about it but it just isn’t. I know that eating less and moving more doesn’t sound very sexy compared to just walking your way to a leaner body but doing these two things will definitely save you time, money, and heartache in the long run.

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