If you think kettlebells are just glorified dumbbells, keep reading. "A kettlebell's center of gravity actually shifts during the course of the exercise," says Jason C. Brown, C.S.C.S., owner of Kettlebell Athletics, in Philadelphia. In that way, it's like many of the objects you lift everyday -- briefcase, milk gallon, unruly toddler -- and repeated use provides much the same benefit: Functional, real world strength.
"Its unique shape also allows you to transition from one move to the next without putting it down," says Brown. Trainers call that "kettlebell flow," and the results speak for themselves: A greater fat-blasting, metabolism-boosting workout in less time than ever before -- with just one weight. And for more than 70 genius workouts like this, check out The Men's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts and The Women's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts.
Directions: Perform the following workout as a "ladder." Begin with 1 rep of each exercise on your right side, moving from one to the next without rest. Next, do 2 reps of each move on your right side, and then three, and so on until you’ve completed 5 reps of each exercise. Rest for two minutes, and then repeat the ladder on your left. No kettlebells at your gym? Get your own. Brown advises that most men start with a 16-kilogram (35-pound) bell; for women, an 8- to 12-kilogram is often a great starting weight. ($60 and up, performbetter.com.) Use the descriptions below to master perfect form, and click on the video to see step-by-step instruction. It'll help you melt fat fast and get in shape. And if you want to reveal your six-pack, click here to discover the Amazing Ab Secrets You Need to Know.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell at arm's length in front of you. Swing it behind your legs, and then in one fluid motion, pull it forward along a vertical path in front of your body. When the bell reaches heart level, flip it over behind your forearm so that your palm faces forward as you punch the kettlebell overhead. "The snatch trains your whole body -- from your toes to your fingers -- in one move," says Brown.
With the kettlebell still overhead, pivot your feet so your toes point at a 45-degree angle away from the weight. Keeping your right arm straight and your eyes on the kettlebell, push your hips to the right and slide your left hand down your left leg toward the floor. Don't bend your right leg. Pause, then return to the starting position, keeping your right arm extended. "Sure, the windmill strengthens your shoulder muscles," says Brown, "but it also targets your core muscles, especially your obliques and lower back." Another way to train your body like never before: This Unbelievable 4-Minute Cardio Workout.
Bring the kettlebell into the "rack position" on your right arm -- elbow by your side, weight in front of your shoulder, palm facing inward. Push your hips back and lower your body into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then stand back up. "Doing squats with barbells puts a lot of stress on your wrists," says Brown. "With kettlebells, your wrists stay in a safe, neutral position."
Single-arm Shoulder Press
Stand holding the kettlebell just outside of your shoulder, palm facing forward. Push the weight straight overhead, and then slowly lower it to the starting position. "Keep your elbow close to your body to maintain proper form," advises Brown. Now lower the weight between your legs, and begin the progression again.
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