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Heavy kettlebells first came into the public eye when circus strongmen would use them to display their superior strength. Today, they serve as a tool for an advanced kettlebell workout. Typically, kettlebells are used for low weight/high intensity movements, but the heaviest kettlebells are great for high weight/low repetition moves.
Your Complete Heavy Kettlebell Workout
If you’re looking for a workout to gain some serious muscle, then a heavy kettlebell workout will get you the results you’re looking for. Remember that this is an advanced kettlebell workout, so be careful not to strain yourself when attempting to work with heavy kettlebells.
Do this circuit, resting at least 10 seconds between sets and 40 seconds between each exercise.
Famers Carry: 30 seconds, 4 sets
Part of working with heavy kettlebells is just about developing the ability to lift them. This is where the farmer’s carry comes in. It will help you improve your grip strength while building a stronger core and providing some conditioning.
The overall movement is picking up the weights in both hands and walking, but there are a few tips to take into consideration for getting the most out of it. First, as you bend down to grab the kettlebells, hinge from the hips and don’t bend your back. Also, be sure to engage your abs while keeping your pelvis tucked underneath you for maximum strength training.
To progress in this workout you can either use increasingly heavy kettlebells or go longer distances with your carry.
Heavy Kettlebell Swing: 5 reps, 2 sets
The kettlebell swing provides a whole host of benefits. Swings work almost every muscle in the body, including the often neglected posterior chain. They are important for both cardio and strength training, but usually they are reserved for high intensity workouts.
However, you can just as well do swings with heavy kettlebells as long as you keep the reps low. Heavy kettlebell swings will help you to increase your power and endurance while helping you see visible muscle gains.
When preforming a swing, place the kettlebell in front of you and take an athletic stance. Start to bend over by hinging at the hips, forcing your glutes backwards, while keeping your back straight. Next, grab the kettlebell with an over hand grip. To start the move, hike the kettlebell backwards between your legs allowing them to bend slightly.
Then, quickly reverse the direction of the kettlebell by hinging your hips forward, straightening your legs, and squeezing your glutes. Do not try to use your arm muscles to force the kettlebell to swing, the momentum of hinging properly will allow it to move. When the kettlebell reaches your chest height, contract your abs and let the momentum take it back down while guiding it back between your legs.
It is essential that you keep your back straight and your chest lifted throughout the entire movement.
Suitcase Carry: 30 seconds each side, 2 sets
A suitcase carry is essentially a farmer’s carry done with one hand. The benefit of doing this heavy kettlebell move is that it absolutely burns out your abs. It also helps with your grip strength, but you will feel it most in the abs.
To do a suitcase carry, bend at the hips to pick up the kettlebell, taking care to keep your back straight. Hold the kettlebell in one hand and carry it for 30 seconds one way, and carry it back on the other side. The key to this move is not to lean in to the kettlebell.
Activate your obliques and keep yourself erect. This move is an excellent functional workout, meaning that it helps you to become fit for everyday movements such as bending and carrying.
Deficit Deadlift: 5 reps, 3 sets
The deficit deadlift is a deadlift done on a platform, usually 1-3 inches high. The extra height increases the range of motion so that it is similar to a squat. This exercise will work to strengthen your entire posterior chain, which is important for daily life as well as athletic pursuits.
Start with a platform that you can stand on with a kettlebell in front of you. Stand on the platform with your feet shoulder width apart and bend at the hips to grab the kettlebell with an overhand grip. Then pull the heavy bell, lifting with your arms first and driving through the heels, keeping your back straight the entire time.
Hold the weight for a second once you have reached the standing position. Next, drop the weight down again by bending at the knees and the hips. The weight should not touch the ground but you need to get low enough for the exercise to be effective.
Remember to keep your back straight throughout the entire move.
Goblet Squat: 2 reps, 2 sets
Goblet squats target your lower body, specifically the quads. Because kettlebells are balanced off-center it will also work your core and shoulder muscles. This makes the goblet squat an excellent workout for improving posture.
A goblet squat is similar to a normal squat but with a kettlebell added for resistance. To start, hold your heavy kettlebell by the horns. Remember not to lift with your back as you pick it up as you can easily damage your back with heavy weights.
Begin to squat until your elbows touch your knees. Return to the starting position by extending your hips and knees. Start with two reps per set, but as you build your strength you may be able to fit more reps in.
Looking at those massive kettlebells sitting in your gym can be intimidating. But, as you can see, there are plenty of heavy kettlebell workouts you can do with them to gain strength and power you didn’t even know you could have. Kettlebells are not exclusively for high intensity/low weight workouts, as some would lead you to believe.
Whether you’re a competitive kettlebell athlete or someone who has been looking to gain size and strength you can fit heavy kettlebells into your routine with this advanced kettlebell workout.
You can work your way up to heavy kettlebells by gradually increasing your weights, increasing number of reps, or gradually progressing to more difficult exercises. Working with behemoth kettlebells will push you to your limits, but you will find the results well worth the extreme efforts.