Train for explosive power and dynamic flexibility.
When life kicks into high gear, kettlebells can be an efficient and effective workout. The classic kettlebell swing tackles strength and cardio at the same time, as you recruit your posterior chain (back, shoulders, hamstrings and glutes) and bump up your cardiovascular effort.
Add kicks into the mix, and besides feeling fierce, you’ll pump up your lower-body strength, not to mention work on balance and dynamic flexibility that will improve your range of motion. In this workout, supersets pair the two movements, so that each kettlebell move sets up the mechanics for the companion kick.
Here are some tips for kettlebells and kicks:
- Keep your core muscles engaged to create optimal alignment for power.
- Keep your back in neutral when you’re picking up, swinging or setting down the kettlebell.
- If you’re new to kicks, start with a low kick with modified range of motion, and aim for control and precision of form and technique.
- If you have back, hip or knee pain or injuries, this might not be the workout for you.
- For weight selection: Choose a weight that will be challenging enough for you to fatigue by the last repetition of each exercise.
Reps, alternating sides: 20 total
- Place your forearms on the ground with your hands out flat, fingertips forward and arms parallel (option: Do this move in a high-plank position with your palms on the ground and arms extended).
- Tuck your toes and straighten your legs to bring your body into a long, strong plank with your thighs engaged, hovering above the ground.
- Keep your core engaged and hips level with your shoulders as you lift your right foot off the ground and bend your right knee until it comes up and out toward the outside of your elbow.
- Return the right leg to the set position and repeat on the left side.
- Hold each position for two-to-three seconds and rest 60 seconds between sets.
Reverse Lunge to Single-leg Romanian Deadlift
Reps per side: 10
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides.
- Take a long step back with your right leg to lunge. Bend your right knee toward the ground as your front knee bends and stays just about at your front ankle.
- Keep your core engaged, spine tall and shoulders back as you stand back up to the starting position and return your back foot to the starting position.
- Lift your right foot slightly off the ground and hinge from your hips, taking your upper-body forward and sending your right leg back behind you for balance.
- As you tip from the hip, keep your back straight and shoulders back (your torso should be parallel to the ground) and reach toward the ground with your left hand.
- Maintain your hips squared off to the ground as the back leg extends behind you, then bring the leg forward and return to starting position with a lengthened spine.
- Repeat on the left side and rest 60 seconds between sets.
Complete the first move in each superset with a kettlebell, then put the kettlebell down for the second move.
Reverse Lunge with Overhead Hold + Lunge to Front Kick Superset
Reps per side: 4 to 6 for lunge, 8 to 10 for kicks
- Grip a kettlebell tightly in the racked position with your right hand (right elbow close to rib cage, palm facing chest, kettlebell resting on right forearm).
- Press the kettlebell straight overhead with the right arm, and keep the arm extended.
- Step back with the right leg and sink into the left hip to perform a lunge.
- Return to starting position, pass the kettlebell to your left hand—keeping the kettle bell in the racked position—and repeat on your left side.
- Complete 4 to 6 reps on each side, and perform as a superset with the next exercise.
- Step your right foot back into a lunge, keeping your spine tall and engaging your glutes as you lower yourself until your left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
- As you stand up from the lunge, swing your right knee forward and extend your leg until it’s straight, in one fluid and explosive motion.
- Swing your right leg back into lunge position.
- Complete 8 to 10 reps on each side.
Kettlebell Windmill + Side Kick Superset
Reps per side: 4 to 6 for windmill, 8 to 10 for kicks
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, so that your left foot is forward at the 12 o’clock position and your right foot is back at the 2 o’clock position.
- Hold a kettlebell overhead in the right arm. Keep this arm extended throughout the entire movement, and let your left arm hang down to your side.
- Look up at the kettlebell as you push back into your right hip and lean forward over your left leg (your left knee should be slightly bent and your right leg straight). Keep your spine long and straight as you lean forward, allowing your left arm to move down the inside of your left leg (similar to a triangle pose in yoga).
- To return to standing, push both feet into the ground and move your hips forward.
- Complete 4 to 6 reps on each arm, and perform as a superset with the next exercise.
- Stand in a boxing stance with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart, so your left foot is forward at 12 o’clock and your right foot is back at 4 o’clock.
- Step forward to balance on your left foot as you bring your right knee up toward your chest.
- Lean forward slightly over your left leg and push your right leg straight out (heel first) until your leg is fully extended.
- Bring your right leg back towards your body (knee pointed up toward your chest) before placing it on the ground.
- Complete 8 to 10 reps on each side.
Kettlebell Swing (two-handed) + Roundhouse Kick Superset
Reps per side: 8 to 10 for swings, 8 to 10 for kicks
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and put the kettlebell a few inches in front of you on the ground.
- Reach down with both hands to grab the handle of the kettlebell.
- As you grab the kettlebell, bend your knees, send your hips back and down slightly and pull your shoulders back and down, making your body strong and ready.
- In one big motion, hike the bell back between your legs, staying high under your legs behind you. Then, swing the kettlebell forward with your arms straight to just in front of the chest.
- At the top of the movement, squeeze through your glutes and exhale, making sure your arms and kettlebell do not go any higher than your chest.
- Repeat the swing 8 to 10 times, and perform as a superset with the next exercise.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart; your right foot should be slightly further forward.
- Rotate your left foot to your left as you quickly bring your right knee up to waist height (knee should be pointing toward a target).
- Rotate quickly to your left as you snap your right foot forward (keep your toes pointed so that the top of your right foot contacts the target, not the front of your toes).
- Bring your right leg back to the floor into the starting position as you rotate your left foot back to the original starting position.
- Complete 8 to 10 reps on each side.
Extended Side Angle Pose
- Take a wide step to the side and turn your right leg out 90 degrees, aligning your right heel with the arch of your left foot.
- Exhale and bend your right knee over your right heel, keeping your left leg straight and engaged.
- Place your right elbow on the base of your right thigh, and extend your left arm up and over your left ear, rotating your palm to face down.
- Keep your right knee opening to the right, press down through your outer left heel and reach out through your left middle finger.
- Hold for five breaths, and repeat on the other side.
Tight hips getting in the way of your high kicks? Check out this yogic stretch for a total-body release and complete your training with a dedicated dose of glute care.
This workout is modeled by Jiji Pollock, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for 24 Hour Fitness in San Ramon, California.
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