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Kettlebell workout: 5 Dynamic moves for full-body fitness

If you want a fast, effective full-body workout, pick up the kettlebells and get moving. This five-move kettlebell workout, from Kettlebells for 50+, targets every muscle, boosts your cardio and fires up your metabolism — no matter what your age.

Kettlebells for 50+

When I started to review Dr. Karl Knopf’s fitness book Kettlebells for 50+: Safe and Customized Programs for Building and Toning Every Muscle (Ulysses Press, April 2012),  I was set on featuring it in the SheKnows Aging section. However, after performing a few of the fitness expert’s kettlebell moves, I was convinced that though Kettlebells for 50+ is written for the older athlete or fitness enthusiast, people of all ages can turn to it to get fit quickly and safely. If you don’t believe it, try Dr. Knopf’s five-move kettlebell workout.

Kettlebell workout

Even if you are in top shape, we recommend starting with lighter kettlebells if you are new to this fitness tool. If you’re experienced with kettlebells, choose a weight that challenges you through the moves.

Kettlebell single-bell racked squat

Kettlebell Single-Bell Racked Squat

Targets glutes, thighs and upper torso

Before you can do a racked squat, you need to know how to rack your bell. The rack position is where the kettlebell move ends or begins. In the rack position, the kettlebell rests against the outside of your forearm, with your elbow as close to your ribs as possible. The handle of the bell should be slightly above the belly of the kettlebell. To get to rack position, you can perform a “clean” or, if the kettlebell is light, an arm curl.

Start position: Assume a stance that’s comfortably wide, with the kettlebell placed just outside your right foot. You may angle your toes slightly outward if this is more comfortable for your knees.

Movement: Lower your rear end into a squat until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then grab the bell in your right hand. Stand up, keeping your arm at your side, and move the bell to rack position at your right shoulder. Protect your wrist by maintaining neutral wrist position; your grip should be relaxed. Lower into a squat, then use the power of your legs to stand up. Repeat, then switch sides.

Perform: 10 to 15 repetitions each side.

Kettlebell one-legged deadlift

Kettlebell One-Legged Deadlift

Targets glutes and core muscles

Start with a lighter kettlebell, watch your form in a mirror and avoid rounding your back.

Start position: Stand with your feet together and place the kettlebell just outside your right foot.

Movement: Bending over from the hip hinge joint, grab the kettlebell handle using a right thumb-up or overhand grip. Extend your right leg straight back to counterbalance. Keep your hips level to the floor. Engaging your torso and gluteal muscles, slowly return to starting position. Bend from the hip hinge joint again to return the bell to the floor. Repeat, then switch sides.

Perform: 10 to 15 repetitions each side.

Kettlebell upright row

Kettlebell One-Legged Deadlift

Targets shoulders, arms, upper back and core muscles

Start position: Take a wide stance and hold the handle of the kettlebell in both hands using a side-by-side grip. Keep your arms straight, positioning them in front of your hips.

Movement: Keeping the kettlebell close to your body, pull it up to chest height. Your elbows will come out to the sides. Lower the bell to starting position. Repeat.

Perform: 10 to 15 repetitions.

Kettlebell rocking horse

Kettlebell Rocking Horse

Targets the entire body

This is an advanced exercise. You may want to do this on an exercise mat to provide some cushioning for your back and tailbone. Avoid this exercise if you have back or neck issues.

Start position: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold the handle of the bell with both hands at your chest.

Movement: Keeping the kettlebell next to your chest and engaging your core, roll back, allowing your hips to lift off the floor. As your hips come off the floor, extend your feet toward the ceiling, pointing your toes and keeping your legs as straight as possible. Roll back to starting position.

Perform: 10 to 15 repetitions.

Kettlebell single-arm swing

Kettlebell Single-Arm Swing

Targets shoulders, core muscles and lower body

You may use gloves or chalk to secure the kettlebell. Some people like to place the free arm out to the side, on the hip or behind the back; experiment to see which provides the most control and counterbalance for you.

Start position: Place the kettlebell between your legs, with its handle angled 45 degrees.

Movement: Lower your hips back and down to a squat. Grasp the handle with your right hand using an overhand grip, then hike the bell between your legs. Your arm and torso should move as a unit. Contract the muscles of your hips and legs simultaneously while you stand up straight and allow the bell to swing forward to chest or head height. Keep your arm extended. Allow gravity to bring the bell back between your legs but control its downward motion. Quickly reverse the direction upward. Repeat, then switch arms.

Perform: 10 to 15 repetitions each side.

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