Practically every gym has an underrated set – the humble kettlebell. Available in a variety of sizes and weights (generally from 4kg up to 30+kg in 4kg increments), this bell-shaped weight is an absolute superstar for working every muscle in the heart and improving cardio and general strength. . Are you still training from home? See the best kettlebells to buy here.
A popular kettlebell exercise that I regularly incorporate into my workout routine is the classic kettlebell exercise. This is a movement that tests balance, stability, strength and endurance, and it’s easy to progress the movement by adding weight or repetitions.
I decided to do them for five minutes every day for a week to master the kettlebell snatch and learn more about the benefits of the movement. Read on to find out what happened.
Benefits of kettlebell natch
When done correctly, the kettlebell is great for working your core, as you need to activate your core muscles to keep your body stable as you lift the kettlebell off the ground straight into the air. Also, since the kettlebell is only held in one hand, your core muscles work hard to maintain body stability so you don’t lean to one side. Research has shown how kettlebell training has a positive effect on core strength, dynamic balance and aerobic capacity.
The kettlebell snatch is also great for working the upper body; after all, it’s your arm that’s driving the kettlebell up overhead, so the shoulders are working hard here. Naturally, the heavier your kettlebell, the more the muscles are loaded and the harder they have to work.
Another great benefit of the kettlebell snatch is that it’s a full body movement, so it fires up your heart and lungs and gives your cardio a boost as well.
How to do a kettlebell snatch
- Start with a kettlebell on the floor between your legs. Your feet should be about hip width apart (but no wider). Sit down and bend your knees. Grab the kettlebell with your left hand. Pick up the kettlebell and roll it back slightly between your legs as you start to stand.
- Keeping your arms fairly close to your body, swing the kettlebell towards your shoulder, stand up straight and raise the kettlebell above your head, extending your arms straight.
- When the kettlebell is coming up smoothly, you need to turn it to the outside of your wrist so that you can press it up comfortably.
- Pause here, then lower the kettlebell back down by turning the kettlebell to the other side of your wrist and dropping it to the floor, keeping your back flat, pushing your hips back and bending your knees as you come down.
- Once on the floor, grab the kettlebell with the opposite hand and repeat. Turn the pages all the time.
I did five minutes of kettlebells a day for a week – here’s what happened
I developed some pretty bad calluses
Seriously, my poor hands. Holding a kettlebell for five minutes will never do your palm any favors. All the friction and force definitely has an effect and my naturally soft hands get calluses easily. To combat this, I decided to use chalk to soften the impact of the kettlebells, but my hands still felt rough after a week of catching.
I was out of breath
As I mentioned, kettlebell snatches are a full body movement that also works the heart and lungs. This means they can leave you panting a bit when you’re doing reps, especially if the weight you choose is challenging. I stopped a few times to catch my breath (I was grateful for the breaks, I won’t lie), but the movement aimed at muscle strength and cardio is something I can get involved with.
Five minutes goes on forever
Time flies when you’re having fun. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fly when you’re doing five minutes of kettlebell grabs. Seriously, this time went on forever and it’s safe to say I took a few breaks to let my fingers wiggle and catch my breath.
These tested my balance
Kettlebells are known for great core work and testing balance and stability. Working with one arm on a kettlebell meant my heart was working hard to keep me steady. I flushed a couple of times and had to reconnect with my core muscles to try and keep myself rooted in place. However, I like the challenge and hope that over time I will see improvements and my balance will improve.
I mixed up my weight
At the beginning of the week, I thought that holding a 12 kg kettlebell for the entire five minutes of my kettlebell swing felt like intoxicating. However, about halfway through, I dropped to 8 pounds, which felt like a feather compared to 12 pounds. I would always prefer to lose weight and maintain good form rather than destroy my back and joints by trying to push.
My Apple Watch was almost broken
Since the kettlebell has to turn to the outside of the wrist during the movement, it’s easy to see how many dials might face the wrath of a heavy kettlebell. I forgot my Apple Watch that sits on my left wrist, and with the first grab of the kettlebell, I flipped it over and heard a loud thump. Fortunately, my watch survived, but I immediately removed it. This meant I couldn’t track my heart rate or calories, but I was happy to ditch that to save my precious Apple Watch 9.
The burning in the shoulder was intense
Oops did my shoulders burn from the constant squeezing motion. As always, time under tension is vital to building and maintaining muscle, so I imagine this did my shoulder muscles a world of good in the strengthening department.
I did 5 minutes of kettlebells a day – here’s my verdict
I’ve always loved kettlebell snatches for many of the reasons I listed earlier, as well as the fact that they just make me feel strong and I have to control my body to stay stable. But five minutes of them, with a challenging weight, took its toll. It’s manageable, but I felt it in my back and shoulders quite a bit.
Would I recommend doing five minutes of kettlebells? I’d say try it once just to see how you feel, but ultimately, as with any resistance exercise, quality over quantity is key, so stop when your form deteriorates because you can only hurt yourself.
I recommend incorporating kettlebells into your routine, but they are an excellent full body movement that offers so many benefits.
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