Refresher Course: Kettlebells

Intense kettlebell workouts burn about 20 calories a minute and can improve aerobic capacity, explosive power, dynamic balance and core strength.

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Though kettlebells date back to Ancient Greece, they have only become a health club staple in the last two decades. Research supports the effectiveness of kettlebell training, and numerous studies found that an intense kettlebell workout burns about 20 calories a minute and could improve aerobic capacity, explosive power, dynamic balance and core strength.

“One of the most effective kettlebell exercises is the swing,” says former IFBB fitness pro Carla Sanchez, owner of Performance Ready Fitness Studio in Lone Tree, Colorado. “It emphasizes the posterior chain, building strength, stamina and power.”

Technique — WOD (workout of the day)

Though it originated as a CrossFit term, many people have adopted this acronym as their own. A WOD is typically a challenging regimen that hits all or most of the major muscle groups of the body. These workouts are programmed in advance and enable you to get a killer workout without having to plan it yourself.

Taking it one step further are the Hero WODs, which are named after fallen servicemen and servicewomen as a testament to their bravery, strength and sacrifices. This Hero WOD — the Brad Harper — uses kettlebell swings as an integral part of the program: Brad Harper was a firefighter who died on the scene of a two-alarm fire in Phoenix on May 18, 2013, at age 23 — hence the numerical scheme of 5/18/13/23.

The Brad Harper Hero WOD

Complete five rounds of the below workout for time. Record your score and try to meet or beat it next time you do the workout.

18 Kettlebell Swings

13 Burpees

23 Wall Balls

Kettlebell Swing for Kettlebell Refresher Course

Kettlebell Swing

Place a kettlebell on the floor a foot or so in front of you. Push your hips back and then bend your knees slightly to grasp the handle with both hands, keeping your back straight and your head and spine neutral. Hike the kettlebell behind you through your legs, hinging only at your hips. As it swings back through, snap your hips forward to propel the kettlebell upward, arms straight, until it comes to head height or so. Here, it should feel “weightless.” Control its descent and swing it back through your legs, going right into the next rep.