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3 Ways Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time

I have trained with kettlebells for over 4 years now. Kettlebells improved my 5k race time, no doubt.

Running isn’t something I enjoy, but it is how I got back into an active lifestyle years ago. The running part made me want to die. All I wanted was for the training day to be OVER. That feeling at the end was awesome which is what kept me running, day in and day out.

Later, I learned a better way to get more powerful at running! In turn, I was faster. And, more importantly, I enjoyed training!

Live and learn, right?!

I created Simply Kettlebells as a way to share my love for kettlebell training with women who are intimidated to try kettlebells. I know I was at first! I’ve reaped many benefits from stepping out of my comfort zone and giving them a try. Below, I map out some of the benefits that kettlebells brought to my running game and how using kettlebells improved my 5k race time.

Note: Originally, the blog posted below was published as a guest post written by me on jillfit.com and includes a sample kettlebell workout!

By Jill Jacobs

In 2009, I was exclusively a runner. I ran anywhere from 3-6 times per week and I was constantly focused on my next 5k. My continuous goal was to beat my previous time. That was my motivation- beating myself! But honestly, my 5k time remained SLOW and I really didn’t understand why??? I seemed to be training and running ALL.THE.TIME.

Enter kettlebells.

I began training with kettlebells in 2011.

I also QUIT running.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you quit running. I think we all need to do the exercises that we enjoy and that we will ACTUALLY do! For me, I saw how kettlebells offered me a TWO-IN-ONE workout- both cardio and strength training, together in one package. As a busy mom that homeschools her two boys, this was a huge bonus that kettlebell training brought to the table for me. It was a no-brainer.

After training with kettlebells for 6 months, I decided to enter a 5k just for kicks and giggles. Surprisingly, I set a new PR with a crazy better time than before! I had decreased my time from 2009 of 32:21 to 25:32 just 2 short years later!!! Yeah! Who knew? I even won my age group against many other women who were “daily runners”. And who shaves nearly 7 minutes off of a short distance run like 5 kilometers? Truly, kettlebells improved my 5k race time!

THAT is what kettlebells can do for YOU, too!

This experience proved to me that kettlebell training truly “speaks for itself”.

Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time

How can this happen? How does one quit running and yet improve their 5k time with a round ball of iron with a handle on top? Let me explain…

Here are the top 3 ways that Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time (and will yours too!):

1) Kettlebells increase your power.
Through ballistic movements like swings and snatches, kettlebell training can truly improve your power and explosiveness in running. The swing is a hip hinge, hip dominant movement. The Russian kettlebell swing is well known for building a nice posterior chain (hello glutes and hammies!) giving you the famous kettle “booty.” And who doesn’t want that!

Having increased power from a strong posterior chain will certainly increase your speed and endurance during your run!

2) Kettlebells increase your strength.
Kettlebells can be utilized for traditional movements like the squat and the deadlift. Because of the kettlebell’s unique shape and size, kettlebell trainees are required to use a lot of force, core strength, and coordinated movement which in turn increases overall body strength. The control needed throughout kettlebell exercises magnifies your core strength for what I call a kettle “CORE.” 🙂

Having a strong backside and a strong core is a great way to improve your performance and decrease your chances for injury in ANY sport!

3) Kettlebells increase your endurance.
Kettlebells have the unique ability to combine both cardio and strength training in one. Utilizing the same explosive movements that increase your power, your endurance will also increase as you advance with kettlebell training. Your ability to swing a higher number of reps, to swing heavier bells, and by tracking your 5-minute snatch test results (fun, fun!!) can all help to measure your endurance progress. Your progress will also be revealed through decreased race times!

Your Quickie KB Circuit:

Set your timer for 20 minutes and go through the circuit AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):

  • 5 Swing Cleans (right)
  • 5 Squat Presses (right)
  • 5 Swing Cleans (left)
  • 5 Squat Presses (left)
  • 5 Rows each, R then L arm
  • 20 Kettlebell Swings

Do this circuit 1-2x/week for best results!

If you are a runner, I can tell you from experience that cross training (with kettlebells) will not only build a toned, leaner physique, but it will improve your race times and performance. The kettlebell has proven to be the perfect tool for me. It completely changed my physique and my performance, I’ll never go back!

If you’ve been on the fence about trying kettlebell training, I highly recommend my signature program, Simply Kettlebells. It’s a super accessible program for beginners with progressions throughout the 8-week program as you improve.

Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time

xo -Jill

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{Workout Wednesday} Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

By Jill Jacobs

I have very active boys. While they love their electronic games, they tend to prefer the outdoors if it’s anywhere close to a nice day. My oldest can turn any activity into a competition with his buddies, and my youngest is obsessed with pull ups and jumping rope lately. It’s fun to this side benefit of working out at home; my kids *want* to get involved and be active too.

Here is my youngest programming his own workout. 🙂

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

We have a park about 1/2 mile from our house as well as a few playgrounds within our neighborhood. I confess that taking them to play at a park is NOT at the top of my list of desirable things to do (after all, we have a perfectly good yard and cul-de-sac!), but when I do, I like to use that time wisely.

If the boys are entertained with each other or friends (and don’t need me), then I use the time to read, catch up with a girlfriend or family member on the phone, or fit in a playground workout!

There are so many exercises you can do on or near a playground. I’ve put together a workout below that will help you get started thinking about ways to use your local playground to exercise. This is family fitness at its best!

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

With your children in your view, of course, start by warming up a bit by jogging around or in place, doing some butt kicks, jumping jacks, and any other dynamic exercise. Then, clock in for a specific amount of time. I think 20 minutes is perfect, but if you only have 10 minutes then clock in for 10 minutes! Never, ever, ever allow perfect or ideal to be the enemy of good!

Once you’re warmed up, start your clock and go:

  1. 1-5 Pull Ups or 15-30 second Flexed Arm Hang on the Monkey Bars – If you can perform pull-ups, using the monkey bars is a great way to fit in a set. If you can’t, jump up to the bar and hold a flexed arm position for as long as you can. You want your chest to the bar with your shoulders back and down. I suggest 15-30 seconds but do what you can even if it’s less or more. Also, letting yourself down slowly is a great way to build pull-up strength. This is called a negative pull-up.
  2. Stationary Reverse Lunges – You could do forward walking lunges around the perimeter of the playground, but I find that reverse lunges are better on the knees (at least for me!).
  3. 5-10 Push Ups – You can adjust push ups to your ability by changing the position used and/or number of reps. Choose any position from incline, to standard, to decline if you’re advanced. For incline and decline, find a park bench, ladder rung, or any elevated surface.
  4. 20 + Mountain Climbers – Staying in plank position after your push-ups, perform 20+ mountain climbers.
  5. 10 right/10 left Step Ups on a park bench, the bottom of a slide, or another stable surface – If you can find a place for step ups, these will work your booty!
  6. Sprint 20-40 yards* (On a hill if available) – Here is some more info on sprint training.

Repeat the circuit until your time is up!

*If you don’t have a place to sprint, do 20 squat jumps instead. 

There are so many more exercises you could perform on a playground including burpees, squat jumps, split squats (using a park bench for your back foot), box jumps onto a bench, any core work if you take a yoga mat or a have nice grassy area, hanging leg or knee raises (on the monkey bars), crossing the monkey bars, swinging with your child, pushing your child on a swing (especially vigorously on a tire swing!), inverted rows on a low bar, pike push ups with your feet in a swing, any type of crawling exercises, not to mention all you could do with a suspension system like TRX! The sky is the limit. 🙂

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

Skitterphoto / Pixabay

The most important thing is to enjoy your time with your kids. The added benefits are exposing them to the outdoors and showing them how important exercise is to you!

Families that play together, stay together. 🙂

xo -Jill

 

 

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The 5 Best Exercises for Fat Loss

By Jill Jacobs

Two things are important when planning your workouts: aligning your workouts with your current goals AND enjoying the way you exercise.

In this post, I’m sharing 5 of the best exercises to help you with your fat loss goals.

Going back in time to 2009 – that was the year I decided enough was enough. I didn’t have to feel stuffed into my clothes just because I had given birth to 2 babies. I didn’t have to settle for being overweight because that’s normal in your 30’s in our current culture. I didn’t have to continue on the path of complacency and acceptance of my current status.

I had always valued “health” and “healthy eating” even though I was confused about what that meant most of my adult life. I mean, in my early 20’s and newly married, I swapped hamburger helper for tuna helper on our grocery run and was super proud of my “healthy choice.” Haha!

This time (2009) was different, though. I decided it was time to reclaim myself and my body and educate myself on what healthy eating and exercising really was. This time, I was serious!

As I embarked on the journey of education, I played around with multiple ways of exercising.

First was steady-state running (pacing, not sprinting). I lost a few pounds, but running made me soooo hungry and did little to nothing to add muscle tone to my body (plus I pretty much hated it).

best exercises for fat loss

I TOTALLY need this sticker!

Then I tried P90X. I LOVED that program and used it with my husband, David, for around 9 months. I learned how much strength training could change my body (and yours), especially when going heavy and eating for fat loss.

To challenge myself with something new, I joined a local kettlebell gym and fell in love with kettlebell training so much so that I got certified to teach myself! This was where I learned about one of the best exercises for fat loss I’ll be discussing below. Stay tuned!

I continued my education with Metabolic Effect by getting my personal training certification as well as my nutrition coaching certification.

Taking the combined knowledge base from my education and experience, I put together the list below to help you define what your exercise program needs to incorporate if your goal is fat loss. There are tons of exercises that will help you lose body fat, but these are my favorite and work well for my clients and me. 🙂

The 5 Best Exercises for Fat Loss

Here are the 5 best exercises for fat loss:

  1. Sprint Training: Sprints are often an overlooked exercise, but that’s a mistake! They are known for building muscle, tightening the core, and leaning out the body. Great combo! Sprint speed is relative, so anyone can do them. There are many exercises such as biking, running, swimming, and really any form of cardio that can be morphed into sprint training!
  2. Kettlebell Swings: The 2 hand kettlebell swing has a reputation; a reputation for torching fat that is! The swing is an explosive move that fires up the body’s metabolism burning fat for many hours after the workout is over. (Here’s a tutorial on the swing if you’re not familiar with how to perform it.)
  3. Hybrid moves like the squat press: (videos – double squat press, single arm squat press) Hybrid moves use multiple joints and multiple muscle groups. Working more muscle at the same time makes for a quicker workout with more fat burning potential. With these type of exercises, I like to go heavy ensuring that my muscles burn, I sweat, and I get out of breath. This creates an optimal hormonal response for fat loss.
  4. Leisure walking and other restorative practices: I’ve written on this before, but want to re-state how important restorative activities are to a balanced, healthy lifestyle. They lower the stress hormone cortisol. This helps reduce hunger and cravings making it easier to get better results. BINGO!
  5. The exercise you will actually do. 🙂 The reality of exercise is that if you hate it, you won’t do it. That’s what running became for me so I changed things up. Life is too short to exercise in a way you don’t enjoy! Finding a way to move your body regularly that you enjoy may take some experimentation, but it’s totally worth it!

In exercises #1-3 above, I recommend training using Metabolic Effect’s signature exercise style called Rest-Based Training (RBT). With RBT, you rest as needed. The goal of this style of exercise is to force you to rest. You never pace yourself. You are “all in” for an exercise until your body tells you to stop. This makes every workout scalable to any fitness level. Magic! If you’re finding that you don’t need rest, you need to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting or increase the intensity level (as with sprints). 😉

Dr. Jade Teta says it like this, “Push until you can’t and rest until you can”.  The workout will flow from exercise to exercise until you must rest. Then, you rest as long as YOU need to and move on. Resting can happen in the middle of a set; it can happen any time you need it. That’s totally fine! Everyone is at a different fitness level, so this style of working out adjusts to YOUR level.

There are several other factors besides exercise when it comes to fat loss including nutrition choices, lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress, having an organized program, and seeking out the accountability and support you need to stay you on track. That’s why my coach, Amanda Tress created FASTer Way to Fat Loss. Her program is super robust utilizing advanced fat loss techniques such as carb cycling and intermittent fasting. Most importantly, FASTer Way to Fat Loss is a support community full of like-minded women who can hold one another accountable throughout the 6 week program!

As always, let me know if you have any questions either in the comments, on my facebook page, or by email (jill@jilljacobs.me)!

xoxo -Jill


FASTer Way to Fat Loss is a 6 Week Boot Camp that Utilizes Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting – HIGHLY effective program!


Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your program pricing does not go up, but if you register through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!

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9 Reasons to Include Sprints in Your Workout Program

By Jill Jacobs

Some exercises are good, some are great, and some are superior when it comes to fat loss. Sprints are among my top recommended exercises when it comes to getting a lean physique while also building muscle for a toned look.

“But hold on, Jill! I’m not a professional athlete. How do you expect me to sprint? I’m super slow!”

The good news is that sprint speed is relative! All you have to concentrate on is sprinting for you not setting a world record. 🙂 Sprints are super effective for fat loss, and barring an injury that prevents you from sprinting, anyone can benefit.

From my professional training, research, and personal experience, here are 9 reasons to include sprints in your workout program:

sprints

Pepperdine University in Malibu is probably the most beautiful place to sprint!

  1. Sprints are time-saving. You can fit in a sprint workout in 20 minutes or less! For this reason (among all the rest!), Coach Amanda Tress (my personal coach) uses sprint workouts in her FASTer Way to Fat Loss program! Her clients, including me, are all busy ladies looking for time-efficient workouts!
  2. Sprints are scalable. Like I stated above, all you have to do is a sprint for YOU. You don’t have to go at record speeds; you just have to bring an intensity that challenges you in order to reap the many benefits. You want to get breathless and in need of rest between sprints. The intensity level should also leave your muscles burning and your body sweating.
  3. Sprints can be done anywhere. I’ve sprinted in my front yard, up my stairs, at the beach, on a treadmill, and at the park while my kiddos play. Boom!
  4. Sprints boost your metabolism by producing a huge hormonal response. Not only does your body release testosterone and growth hormone during sprints (great for muscle growth and fat burning), but it increases insulin sensitivity. This is the perfect hormonal cocktail for hours of fat burning activity post workout! Moderate intensity running lacks this hormonal combination. sprints in your workout program
  5. Sprints improve your cardiovascular health. Including sprints in your workout program will strengthen your heart muscle and increase circulation. Additionally, sprints have been shown to lower blood pressure. Your cardiovascular endurance and muscle endurance will increase. If you are a long distance runner, incorporate sprint training 1-2 times per week to increase your overall endurance and speed (see #6).
  6. Sprints build strong muscles! After your first sprint sesh, I guarantee that you’ll feel it ALL over. Your shins, calves, feet, hamstrings, quads, glutes, abs, and more will be sore. The explosive nature of sprint training will use muscles from all over the body, utilize your core (read: tighten up your core! Have you ever seen the abs of a sprinter?!), and ultimately increase your speed and endurance in other exercises.
  7. Sprints are fun. 🙂 If you ever get bored with your workout, head to a track to run some sprints. You’ll feel like a rock star when you are done!
  8. Sprints release endorphins. Endorphins help with depression, increased energy, and an overall sense of well-being.
  9. Sprints are versatile. Many forms of exercise can be transformed into sprints. Besides running, you can perform sprint intervals with swimming, biking, pushing sleds, battling ropes, rowing, and even the elliptical.

 

 

As you can see, the benefits of sprints go well beyond body composition. But before I close out, I’d like to leave you with 9 things to consider before you head out for your first sprint session. These suggestions will help you prevent injury.

  1. Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough to exercise before starting any new program.
  2. Make sure you warm up before your start sprinting. You want to spend a good 5-10 minutes jogging around, skipping, performing walking lunges and lateral lunges, leg kicks, high knees, etc. before beginning your sprint workout.
  3. While your goal may be to eventually do 10-12 sprints in one workout, start with 3-5 sprints. You will be plenty sore, so don’t worry about not getting a good workout. Add 1-2 sprints each sprint workout until you reach 10 or so sprints.
  4. REST in between sprints. So many people will jog between sprints. I suggest you walk back to your starting point. Once your back, stand there until you’re fully ready to sprint again with intensity.
  5. On your first couple of sprints, sprint at about a 60-80% effort. Build up to full intensity throughout the workout.
  6. Don’t sprint over 30-40 yards. Seriously, a sprint coach once gave me this advice. He said that keeping sprints short will prevent injury for those of us who have no reason to be sprinting 400 meters. Unless we are competing, we regular folk need to keep our sprints short and sweet!
  7. Start sprinting uphill. This is actually a tool that helps prevent injury, keeps your stride the correct length, AND teaches (forces) you to sprint on your toes which is proper sprint form.
  8. Softer surfaces (sand, grass, track surface) are better for sprinting. They will be easier on your joints than cement surfaces.
  9. At the end of your sprint, slowly come to a stop. You don’t want your stop to be abrupt. Just cross your “finish line” sprinting, then start your slow down.

To add sprints to your workout program, start with the 9 suggestions above. Make sure you warm up. Start with just a few sprints and work up to more each week. Keep your sprints short. Sprint on your toes. Lastly, be sure to honor this process. Practice sprinting and you’ll watch yourself get better at them and faster!

Need a workout program that incorporates sprints? Check out FASTer Way to Fat Loss coached by Amanda Tress! Get started reaching your goals. 🙂

xo -Jill


FASTer Way to Fat Loss is 6 Week Boot Camp that Utilizes Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting – HIGHLY effective program!


Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your program pricing does not go up, but if you register through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!

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New to Kettlebell Swings? Read This First!

Just over 6 years ago, I decided it was time to venture into fitness after my childbearing days had come to a close. (Why I waited until then is a completely different blog post!) My first attempt to “get fit” was to pick up running. I didn’t know the extensive benefits of strength training for women, and I certainly had never heard of kettlebells, so running it was.

 

As soon as the weather cooled off, I jumped on the chance to try an indoor program- not for the benefits of said program, but to get away from running, especially running in the COLD! No thank you!

 

I purchased and went through P90X a few times that fall and winter. I saw results that running didn’t offer me and was prompted me to research more and more about strength training.

 

That’s how I discovered kettlebells!

 

This one simple tool can make you stronger, faster, and leaner, in LESS TIME than any other piece of fitness equipment. I don’t know about you, but I love ANY thing that is time efficient PLUS superior! #SCORE

 

The very foundation of a great kettlebell program is the Russian kettlebell swing. I get a lot of questions from readers and facebook followers about how to swing, what weight to swing, and what are the benefits to the swing.

 

Kettlebell swings are known as the “mother of all kettlebell exercises” and for good reason. They give birth to many of the other kettlebells exercises. In other words, the kettlebell swing is a foundational exercise AND has some major fitness and fat loss benefits!

 

Here are a few of the benefits of the kettlebell swing. If you incorporate swings in your workout regimen, you will:

 

  • Get stronger
  • Get faster (hello better 5k time!)
  • Become more powerful
  • Perform better in other sports with increased endurance
  • Get Leaner
  • Develop a the infamous “kettlebooty” and who doesn’t want that?!!
With all of these benefits, I know you’re really wanting to add kettlebell swings to your life! The problem is that many people perform the swing incorrectly. This diminishes the benefits and increases the risk of injury. *sad face*

 

Because I don’t want that to happen to any of you, I asked my friend and colleague, Kristy Agan, who is a Level II RKC Instructor to lay out exactly how to progress into being able to perform the swing. She was kind enough to include some video demonstrations as well as a couple of bonus workouts for you to try! Take it away, Kristy….
Kristy Agan, RKCII

Kristy Agan, RKC Level II Instructor

Swing Tutorial for Beginners

By Kristy Agan

Kettlebell swings are a fundamental exercise when training with kettlebells. It is a very effective and explosive movement that burns fat and develops power. But before you can safely perform a swing, you must first learn how to correctly do a hip hinge, and from there, a deadlift.

Hip Hinge

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart
  • Push your hips back and allow your torso to move forward
  • Lengthen your spine and open up your chest
  • Your shins should remain as close to vertical as possible

Deadlift

  • Stand over the kettlebell
  • Perform a hip hinge until your hands are touching the bell (Refer back to the steps for performing a Hip Hinge)
  • Before you lift the bell, pull shoulders back/down and engage your lats (do not round your shoulders)
  • Brace your abs
  • As you lift the bell, think about pressing your weight into the floor and keep the weight on your heels
  • Stand up tall and squeeze your glutes
  • Repeat hip hinge pattern until bell is back on the floor

Russian Kettlebell Swings – Demo of the hinge and deadlift

Next: Transition to the Kettlebell Swing

Hike

  • Step back from the bell
  • Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width apart
  • Perform a hip hinge until your hands are touching the bell
  • Tilt the bell towards you
  • Before you hike the bell, pull your shoulders back/down and engage your lats (do not round your shoulders)
  • Brace your abs
  • Hike the bell between your legs. Your arms should come in contact with your ribcage and your forearms should come in contact with your upper thighs.
  • Return the bell softly back to the floor in front of you

 

kettlebellswing

Swing

  • Hike the bell between your legs
  • Stand up explosively, snap your hips and squeeze your glutes
  • The bell should float up into the air after your hips snap forward
  • Then hold your hips forward and maintain tight glutes until your arms come in contact with your ribcage as the bell begins to drop.
  • Then push your hips back quickly out of the way allowing the bell to go between your legs. (see video below of kettlebell swings)

Russian Kettlebell Swings – Demo of the hike and swing

Fullscreen capture 11122014 25727 PM.bmp

For more information and fitness tips from Kristy Agan, subscribe at www.kristyagan.com and receive a FREE copy of her Healthy Living Guide.

 

You can also follow Kristy on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!readerschoice

 

More about Kristy:  After the birth of her first child at the age of 27 Kristy realized her desire to pursue fitness as a career and not just a part-time gig. Kristy began her career as a  group fitness instructor certified through AFAA . Through training clients with multiple tools, Kristy quickly discovered her passion….kettlebells. Kristy self- taught her way into the kettlebell world where she eventually earned her HKC, RKC, and RKCII. Kristy is also a certified personal trainer through the American Council of Exercise (ACE) and TRX qualified. This wife and mother of two kids maintains a large following of faithful clients in Rome, GA where she trains at Pro Performance with Tim Vicchrilli and Mike Sarver. A big congrats to Kristy is in order! She was recently awarded the Readers Choice Award from Rome News Tribune as Best Personal Trainer for 2014.

 

p.s. (from Jill) Looking for more swing practice? Use my beginner’s kettlebell program, Simply Kettlebells!

 

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5 Reasons Kettlebells are Great for Women {Bonus: New Workout}

Everyone who knows me either online or in real life KNOWS my love affair with kettlebells!

 

This affair started back in early 2010. Once I was introduced to kettlebells and all the many benefits of utilizing them, there was no turning back! I practiced and practiced at the gym, and I studied everything I could get my hands on. I watched countless Youtube videos on how to use kettlebells with proper form.

 

During one of my internet study sessions, I happened upon Neghar Fonooni’s Youtube channel and literally watched every video she had on there. I saw a strong woman with lots of kettlebell skills. I saw a woman that I’d like to learn from and emulate. She was the REAL DEAL! Needless to say, I’ve continued to learn from Neghar through all these years in various ways (thank you internet!) including her latest 12-week kettlebell program appropriately titled “Lean and Lovely.”

 

Since Neghar is an elite kettlebell instructor, fitness and lifestyle coach, mom, and a mentor of mine, I asked her if she’d do me the honor of sharing with my readers some of the reasons why the kettlebell is a FABULOUS tool for women. She agreed! Take it away, Neghar…. 🙂
Neghar Fonooni Headshot 33 Web

Neghar Fonooni, Creator of Lean & Lovely

A few years ago, I was a single mom, full-time trainer, and full-time student. It was not uncommon to find me training clients as early as 6 am and as late as 8 pm, then coming home to blog, and after my son’s bedtime, studying until 2 am. These were some of the most demanding and character building years of my life, and while I was often challenged, they led me to learn how to find success through struggle. In fact, I often look back on these years with great fondness, as they taught me so much about myself as a mother, trainer, and entrepreneur.

As you can imagine, though, I was physically and mentally exhausted a great deal of the time. Much to my dismay, I spent so much time writing programs for clients and keeping up with my blog, that my own workouts would often suffer. This was problematic, not just because of the physical implications, but because exercise is what keeps me sane. Movement is a significant part of what keeps me balanced—and going even one day without really moving leaves me feeling not-so-much like myself.

Yet somehow, even with all the craziness of these trying times, I was able to regularly get my sweaty, and in turn, keep my sanity and sense of balance. Somehow, amidst the studying, training, writing, and mothering, I was able to stay fit. My secret weapon?

The kettlebells in my living room. 

They may be but oddly shaped hunks of iron, but they saved me during a time of extreme overload. Little by little, my small family of kettlebells grew, until I owned at least one of each size from 12kg-28kg, ensuring a solid home workout no matter how bust things became. Just having a few pieces of equipment at home, simple tools that would help me sweat even if I couldn’t get to the gym, are what kept me consistent despite the constant tug of responsibility.

While I used kettlebells with my clients regularly at the gym (in conjunction with barbells, dumbbells, bands, etc.) I never truly appreciated their versatility and worth until I was often relegated to working out with kettlebells alone. These little hunks of iron have so many benefits, especially for women, which is why I chose to center my Lean & Lovely program completely around them. Now, you can certainly use any equipment for the program, and there’s nothing inherently magical about the kettlebell itself—but its benefits are so extensive, that I recommend every woman get her hands on one.

What makes these ancient tools, once only used my Russian special forces, so fabulous for women? Let’s take a look.

Total Body

Unlike many workouts that have you training one body part at a time, most kettlebell movements engage your entire body at once. Kettlebell movements are dynamic and multi-joint, allowing for total recruitment of the body.

Take the kettlebell swing, for example: With just one move you’re working your glutes, quads, abs, lats, and shoulders, all while burning fat and revving your metabolism. Kettlebell training combines stability, flexibility, strength, and cardio, allowing you to simultaneously build muscle and burn body fat.

What’s especially unique to the kettlebell is its handle, which creates an offset center of gravity. This makes it ideal for dynamic movements like swings and snatches and causes your stabilizing muscles to have to work over time, particularly in exercises like presses and Turkish Get Ups.

Being able to use your entire body with a handful of exercises is a huge benefit, which leads me to the next reason why kettlebells are awesome for women.

Kettlebells Save Time

We all know that exercise is important, right? Yet that doesn’t always prompt us to grab our sneakers and hit the gym. In fact, when I ask women why they don’t currently exercise, the number one reason I hear is that they don’t have time. Trust me, I get that. Human-mom, dog-mom, entrepreneur, coach, wife, writer, chef—these are all hats I wear at intervals on a daily basis. I know what it’s like to be busy and to feel like there’s no possible way I can fit exercise into the rest of my hustle.

However, with just a few minutes of exercise each day, you’ll actually be more capable of completing all of these day-to-day activities. Exercise increases energy and immunity, not to mention the requisite physical strength to tackle daily tasks like hauling groceries, moving furniture, and playing with our kids.

I remember the day I realized my son had outgrown his toddler bed, and it was time to invest in a twin. It was an emotional day to say the least! But, as was necessary, I drove to Ikea, picked out a suitable bed, and loaded it into my crossover. When I got home, I realized that I didn’t have anyone to help me bring it inside: such is the life of a single mom. So, with no other options readily available, I proceeded to hoist and haul the bed on my own—up the stairs, down the stairs, with a few breaks in between, until I finally reached my son’s bedroom. I don’t think I’d ever been so aware of the practical benefits of exercise and weightlifting until that moment.

Bottom line: exercise needs to be a priority. And strength needs to be an even bigger priority at that. Time or no time, we have to make it happen.

Because kettlebells engage the entire body in a unique way, lack of time is no longer a relevant issue. Rather than spending hours at the gym, you can complete a full-body kettlebell workout in as little as 10-20 minutes. Surprisingly, when I tell women that all they need to initially get results is 10 minutes, they don’t seem to want to believe me. And, it’s not hard to understand why.

For years we’ve been told that we need to spend absurd amounts of time in order to see results, and in turn, short workouts just seemed ineffective and too good to be true. I’ve seen training programs that call for 2 hours in the gym, and on the flip side, I’ve seen short workouts that don’t seem very effective at all. The great thing about kettlebells is that you can actually utilize them to get an intense, fat-burning, strength-building workout in very little time. Now, of course, you’ll want to take a little more time on some workouts than others, but isn’t a 10-minute workout better than no workout at all?

My philosophy on exercise is that more isn’t better–BETTER is better. So, spending more time working out is not necessarily better than being more efficient while working out. As you’ll see with the sample workout below, sometimes all you need is one kettlebell and a few basic exercises to complete a total body metabolic resistance workout.

Kettlebell Workouts are Fun

This is really the thing that keeps me exercising. Honestly, if it isn’t fun, why even do it?! As a coach, I recognize this often with my clients. If they aren’t enjoying the workouts, then they fail to be consistent—and why should they be? If they’re not enjoying themselves, then what’s the point?

I didn’t use to have this philosophy. Years ago I would grind away at the gym, often getting frustrated with myself for not performing how I thought I should. I’d beat myself up if I missed a lift or if I had to take it easy for whatever reason. Lifting weights was a means to an end for me, not an experience in and of itself. Then one day, as I watched my son play, I was reminded of a line from the romantic comedy Knocked Up.  Paul Rudd’s character, Pete, is watching his daughters play with bubbles on the playground, running around and laughing in the carefree way that children do. He ponders their play by saying:

“That’s an incredible thing about a child. I mean, what’s so great about bubbles…I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles…they’re smiling faces just point out your inability to enjoy anything.”

All jokes aside, this really hit me. Hard. Why was I grinding away at the gym again? Why wasn’t I actually enjoying this very integral part of my life?

These days I make exercise fun by incorporating yoga, bike rides on the beach, trampoline jumping with my family, stand up paddle boarding, and of course, kettlebell training. Kettlebells are especially fun as there’s just something so gratifying about tossing around a hunk of iron. And because they are so different than what we’re used to, we gain pleasure from the much-needed change of pace. Most women I speak to have a hard time sticking with an exercise routine because it bores them, but once they start using kettlebells, they experience a rush of childish play.

Kettlebells are Versatile and Travel-Friendly

It’s pretty incredible what you can do with just one kettlebell (as you’ll see in the attached beginner workout). All you need is just one moderately sized kettlebell in order to achieve an effective, total body, fat-burning workout. This makes kettlebells especially appealing to busy moms and career women, given that you can transport your kettlebell wherever you need it to go.

I’ve taken kettlebells on road trips, to the beach, to the park, and even to my girlfriend’s homes for buddy workouts (just make sure to buckle them in with seatbelts!). They’re so easy to keep at home and store out of sight when not in use. This kind of versatility makes it more likely that you’ll stay consistent as well, considering that you may not always have access to a gym.

Kettlebells are a Safe Introduction to Weightlifting

Stepping into the weight room can be intimidating at first. I know this from my own experience, and I hear it constantly from readers and clients.

I remember my first trip to the YMCA weight room. I was 17 and had just started working there as an administrative assistant. I was one of the only girls, and I had NO IDEA what I was doing. So, I just started picking up things and putting them down, messing about with no real plan or purpose. It was a little nerve-wracking, and it’s actually quite amazing that I escaped injury-free. These days I have a love affair with lifting weights, but it took years to cultivate.

As a coach, I often meet women who are afraid to either lift weights for fear of injury or are intimidated by the male-dominant weight room. I get that because I’ve been there myself. While I eventually get all of my clients to fall in love with lifting weights, I often start with kettlebells to simplify and safety-proof their workouts. You can deadlift a kettlebell far more easily than you can a barbell, and a swing is certainly more accessible to most than a barbell clean or snatch. Essentially, kettlebells offer a safe gateway to the versatile and varied world of weight lifting.

The age of women being relegated to the cardio machines is quickly coming to a close. More and more, we’re found lifting weights and accomplishing incredible feats of strength. This is an exciting time for women, and as a women’s coach, I couldn’t be more pumped. With the benefits of kettlebells in mind, I invite you to try this simple (but killer) beginner workout. I’m positive you’ll be hooked! ~Neghar

Kettlebell Workout

Ok Ladies!  Neghar’s Lean and Lovely Kettlebell Program is waiting for you to give it a try!

 

Lean & Lovely is a 12-week total transformation system, written by fitness and lifestyle expert Neghar Fonooni. It has amazing workouts, incredible nutrition information, and a tremendous focus on mindset shifting. Truly, kettlebells for women!

 

If you’re tired of living extremes, either on or off a diet or workout plan, Neghar’s Lean and Lovely program is for you! It cultivates and encourages a balanced lifestyle of fitness, fun, palatable foods, adventure, and joyful living. So not only does it utilize kettlebells (you can also do most of the program with other fitness tools like dumbbells!), but it’s completely in line with my message of balance and my core value, “Enjoy the journey!” With #LeanAndLovely, you will have everything you need to transform your body and mind- workouts, nutrition guidance, and mindset insights. If you’ve been considering trying out kettlebells, NOW is the time.

 

Find all the details HERE and grab your copy of Lean and Lovely today!

 

Enjoy the program! xo ~Jill

 

Some Tweetables!

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