If you pay any attention to the weather, then you know that the Dallas area has been in a deep freeze over the past week, along with many parts of the rest of the country.
This is very unusual for us. When it stays this cold, this long, we have things like Hard Freeze, which means you need to open your cabinets and let water drip from faucets and shower heads in order to prevent the pipes from freezing. Fun stuff like that
So, during the past week, I was stuck in my house. I did not leave from Monday evening until Saturday afternoon, when it warmed up enough to clear ice from the streets -ice which had been covered with a 4-5 inch layer of snow.
For someone like me, who enjoys the privilege of a corporate fitness facility and makes it there every weekday morning at about 6:00 AM, not being able to get there might seem like a problem. But it is no problem for me because I have a nicely stocked home gym.
And just this past week, I added a kettlebell and some kettlebell DVDs to my equipment and DVD collection. So this week I got to use them for the first time – and I LOVE them.
What is a kettlebell? Glad you asked. Although many of them come with the bell encased in a bright plastic coating (different colors depending on the weight of the bell), the basic kettlebell looks like a black cannon ball with a handle.
So – unlike a dumbbell – you can use this thing in many creative ways to combine weight training, cardio, and stretching/flexibility. The handle is the key to the bells versatility.
The greatest advantage of using a kettlebell is that the exercises engage the entire body, and improve functional fitness – that is, your ability to perform tasks you do every day.
In short – it’s a balanced workout!
The program I’m using is Kettleworkx™ (http://www.kettleworx.com/). It is well recommended and after using it for a week, I can personally endorse it as a great way to start working with kettlebells.
For people who are not used to working out, the basic 3X a week routine contained in the basic DVDs probably works very well. Every other day, you do the exercises on one of 3 DVDs – Core, Resistance, and Cardio. Each routine begins and ends with a warm-up and cool down. Always warm up and cool down – it’s important for preventing injury.
Although each of these DVDs contains a different emphasis, many of the exercises are the same from one to the other – and the creator of the program, Ryan Shanahan, LOVES squats. After my first workout (which you will note is called “Core” – so I’m thinking abs), my quadriceps were on fire.
I ordered supplementary DVDs, so on the second day, I thought I’d give my quads a rest and do the “Arms and Shoulders” DVD. More squats! Granted, the emphasis is on the upper body, but even the warm-up has squats so get ready for rock hard quads, hamstrings and glutes (which is fine with me!)
The Kettleworkx™ program runs 6 weeks if you follow it exactly. Each of the basic DVDs has a program that, in this first week, consists of two sets. No doubt that will increase over the next 6 weeks.
My plan is to do Kettleworkx™ in the morning, first thing, before I leave for the fitness center at work. Once I am there, I will do walking or running intervals on the treadmill, or some work on the elliptical.
My plan is as follows: Mon – Core; Tue-Arms and Shoulders; Wed-Resistance; Thu-Butt and Hips; Fri-Cardio; Sat-Chest and Back; Sun-Legs and Thighs.
This is the plan I followed this first week, and my legs are killing me. But it’s a great all around program, and frankly, I can use a rest from counting reps and sets! The DVDs take care of that for me.
The recommendation is that most women start with a 5 lb. kettlebell – men with 10 lbs. However, as with dumbbells, most of us have some body parts that are stronger than others. Like most women, I have strong legs, but my upper body can’t handle the same level of weight as my lower. I could easily handle a 10 lb. bell on some exercises, but for others, the 5 lb. bell works well – but I can see this changing quickly.
Rather than buying a bunch of bells at different weights, I intend to do the same thing I did when I purchased my own personal dumbbells – PowerBlocks! (http://www.powerblock.com/)
If you are not familiar with PowerBlocks, allow me to enlighten you. PowerBlocks makes dumbbells (and, as it turns out, kettlebells) that can take you from 3 to 20 lbs per hand (The Sport 2.4 set – which is what I own) or 5 to 50 lbs. per hand (the Sport 5.0). There are additional sets, but you get the idea.
Lucky for me, there are two versions of the PowerBlock Kettlebell – the KettleBlock 20 (5, 8, 12, 16 and 20 lb increments) and the KettleBlock 40 (8, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 increments). http://www.powerblock.com/Kettleblocks.php
The beauty of these bells is that you can adjust from one weight to another very quickly between sets of exercises, so if you are moving from something that challenges your lower body to an upper body exercise, you can lower the weight in seconds and continue.
Obviously, they also take up less space than a range of kettlebells, and in the end, probably cost less than buying multiple bells individually. But the best part is being able to move to the next challenge without having to go out and buy a bigger bell! Set yourself up for success and you’re re likely to actually get there.
With that in mind, when I ordered my Kettleworkx™ kit, I requested the Level Two program as well. That means once I have mastered the Beginner’s Program, I can keep on going to the next level – again, setting myself up for success in advance.
For now, I will stick to my little 5 lb. bell and ask my family to chip in for the PowerBell for my birthday, which is at the end of this month.
Now that I have been through all the workouts included in my new kit, I am already looking forward to my Monday morning workout – Core. I will let you know at the end of the first 6-8 weeks what kind of progress I’ve made. In the meantime, if you can find a kettlebell class and give it a try on your own, I can highly recommend it!
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” John F. Kennedy