How do I Perform a Kettlebell Circuit?

Liz Fernandez

Although many people have never heard of them, kettlebells have been around for decades. Modern high-performance athletes have caught on to the benefits and have begun incorporating kettlebells in their exercise routines. Kettlebells resemble a bowling ball with a loop handle at the top and range in weight from two to 100 pounds (about .9 to 45.4 kg). They can be used for whole-body conditioning and for training the core section of the body. To perform a kettlebell circuit, you will want to make sure that you are utilizing as many muscles as possible while building both aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

Man without a shirt
Man without a shirt

Kettlebells are considered to be an excellent option for circuit training, which is a method of structuring a workout program so that the athlete moves from one exercise to the next with little rest in between. Circuit training develops strength and endurance while enhancing flexibility and coordination. Using kettlebells, which engage multiple muscle groups at the same time, in conjunction with a circuit training format to create a kettlebell circuit typically will produce maximum results.

Generally, circuit training routines target every muscle group while at the same time build aerobic and anaerobic endurance. These are typically high-intensity workouts that burn lots of calories in a short period of time. Circuits are a great option for athletes looking to cross train — plan on completing eight to 12 exercises in a circuit workout.

Before beginning a kettlebell circuit, a novice typically should receive expert instruction in the proper technique of kettlebell training. Look for a personal trainer or coach who has experience training with kettlebells. To find a certified kettlebell trainer, you could check with the American Kettlebell Club or with the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation. Athletes can get seriously injured when not using the kettlebell correctly. Even seasoned athletes who have never worked with kettlebells usually will need to take it slow and adjust to the initially awkward movements of a kettlebell training program.

Once the basics of kettlebells are mastered, it's time to put together a challenging kettlebell circuit program. It can be as simple as doing basic kettlebell swings with a minute of rest in between. Athletes can do sets of dual-handed swings followed by sets of one-handed swings. For a more challenging kettlebell circuit, try more intense moves such as the Turkish get-up and figure eight move.

Standard exercises traditionally performed with dumbbells can be adapted for a kettlebell circuit. Perform split squats with kettlebells for added difficulty; do a set of rows with kettlebells instead of dumbbells to target the back muscles as well as the core; string four or five of these moves together with no rest in between. Rest for one minute once the set of exercises has been completed. Completing this type of routine several times a week typically will increase an athlete's overall fitness.

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