Our blog series "3 fantastic exercises" gives you descriptions and details on some of our favorite and most frequently recommended exercises at HAUS No3.
We have chosen exercises that can be done both in the gym or at home and that follows qualifies as easy to learn with a high return.
Enjoy the reading and we hope you pick up a few tips that will help you on your fitness journey!
WHAT MAKES AN EXERCISE FANTASTIC?
We believe that there is a time and place for every exercise and at the end of the day; how you perform the exercise (technique and form) also dictates if the exercise is good or not for you.
However there are some exercises that stick out and have characteristics that we really like. In summary, these exercises are easier to learn (low skill), don't require a lot of equipment or setup and has a high return by consistently producing positive results in strength and fitness.
On this basis we qualify our exercises as a "fantastic" exercise.
THE TOOL; KETTLEBELL
The combination of simplicity and versatility is probably the reason why the kettlebell is one of the most popular and frequently used tools in the functional fitness industry today. For the past decade, the kettlebell has really become mainstream and you can find it most well equipped gyms.
At HAUS No3 we use kettlebells on a daily basis with more or less all our guests at some point. With knowledge, experience and some creativity it can be used to create an effective and productive training session.
What makes the kettelbell different from a traditional dumbbell or barbell is the distribution of the weight in relation to the placement of the handle. With its center of mass positioned directly under the handle it stimulates the joint of the limbs with distraction and compression forces that in turn gets a chance to responds by centralising and stabilize the joint nicely. This is a good thing if you are looking for stable, strong and healthy joints.
In summary, we really like the kettlebell as one of our training tools at HAUS No3. Continue below to read the rationale and descriptions of our chosen "3 fantastic kettlebell exercises".
1. ROMANIAN DEADLIFT (RDL)
At HAUS No3 we perform the RDL (Romanian Deadlift) from the top and down, meaning starting in a standing upright position.
By doing the RDL (Romanian Deadlift) you are conditioning your hip hinge pattern. From our experience, it is easier to learn and maintain movement integrity in the hip hinges from an upright position, building from the top and down.
Although the movement might look easy it takes focus and attention to detail to master, but it's well worth the time and effort invested as it improves dynamic hip stability (motor control) and static shoulder stability (motor control) while maintaining a neutral spine.
The modest demands for ankle mobility and without strict guidelines for how low the kettlebell needs to travel makes the RDL a user friendly exercise for those with hip and ankle mobility restrictions.
Stand hip to shoulder width apart and hold the kettlebell as close to your body as possible with straight arms.
Initiate the movement by reaching back with the hips as you fold forward from the chest.
Lower the kettlebell while actively holding it in towards your body (center of mass) until you can feel the stretch in the back of the legs (hamstrings).
At the bottom position, your back should remain flat (no rounding or hunching forward of the spine) with a neutral neck (head facing down).
Return to the start position (upright) by pushing the hips forward and finish the movement by squeezing your glutes (butt cheeks) to reinforce hip extension and prevent low back dominance.
Perform the movement for prescribed repetitions (e.g. 3 sets of 12 reps).
2. CRUSH SQUAT
This is a variation of the popular exercise; goblet squat. We picked up this exercise from our friend Andrew Read - a Melbourne based kettlebell master coach that has a tonne of interesting material to share.
We like the fact that "crushing" the bell between your hands encourages more engagement in the anterior core as well as the option of counterbalancing the weight by holding it out in front and therefore achieving a more upright torso and therefore greater hip range of motion (especially good for those who tend to pitch forward every time they squat).
Hold the kettlebell in a “crush grip” by squeezing the bell between your palms.
Stand shoulder width apart with feet slightly turned out (where it feels comfortable and natural).
Initiate the movement by bending at the hips first, shortly followed by bending knees and descend down in to a deep squat.
Press the bell with the palms to activate the core and use it as a counterbalance weight by reaching it out in front in order to achieve an upright torso at the bottom of the squat.
At the bottom position, your back should remain flat (no rounding or hunching forward of the spine) with an upright torso, knees slightly pushed out to open up the hips and the weight evenly distributed over the entire foot (with emphasis on outer edge and towards the heel).
Return to the start position (upright) by pushing the feet in to the ground while maintaining a rigid torso.
Perform the movement for prescribed repetitions (e.g. 3 sets of 12 reps). Add a pause at the bottom of the movement for additional core activation and don't forget to "crush" the kettlebell between your palms.
3. BOTTOM-UP WALK
This is a seemingly simple movement and therefore gets overlooked by many. While most exercises in the gym are done for several continuous repetitions, the bottom-up walk makes you carry the weight while walking, challenging overall stability and postural control.
It's easy to forget that in terms of functionality, carries and holds are probably more useful to build a strong and "functional" body rather than simply lifting a weight over and over again.
With the kettlebell positioned bottom-up and with the forearm and elbow in 90 degrees, it forces your grip strength and shoulder girdle to stabilize a lot. It also makes your walk slow and controlled to maintain balance of the bell.
Overall, kettlebell bottom-up walk is a great exercise to train core, shoulder and postural stability and strength endurance. It is easy to learn and can be combined with other types of carries with the opposite arm if desired (suitcase, front rack, overhead carry).
Use a light kettlebell (6-12 kg) and hold the middle of the handle in a firm grip.
Swing the bell up using both hands and hold it at a 90 degree angle.
With the bottom of the bell facing up, walk with in a slow and controlled manner while squeezing the handle tightly and keeping the arm as still as possible.
Walk and carry for either prescribed time or distance (e.g. 3 sets of 45 seconds per arm).
Add a second kettlebell in the other hand for variations, either suitcase, front rack or overhead if you have the pre-requisites.
WELCOME TO HAUS No3
We hope you enjoyed our tips and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments.
At HAUS No3 we offer a custom design training experience in our boutique personal training studio in Bangkok, Thailand.
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