Got Kettlebell? Swing it and Charge up Your Fitness Routine

By on October 7, 2013
woman working out with kettlebell

By Dina Ramon –

For all you gals who are disciplined about sticking to your regular exercise – maybe you even love working out and are devoted to your gym:  Are you ‘doing’ kettlebells? You’ve surely seen those metal, bowling ball-looking things with thick handles and flat bottoms that sometimes come in various colors depending on their weight. Regardless of how much you work out and how fit you think you are – if you’ve never experienced an hour-long kettlebell session, prepare to be humbled.

Kettlebells may look pretty harmless, but once you pick them up and get some professional instruction on how to properly swing them (and there is a proper way; the wrong swing can cause injury and be counterproductive) you will be surprised at how challenging and effective a kettlebell work out truly is.

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For sure, kettlebell workouts can be rigorous for women of any age, but there are particular considerations that women over 50 should be aware of, especially for those who are just starting out. But don’t let whatever you may have heard about kettlebells intimidate you. Using them is a great way to build strength and endurance in the legs, core, lower back and shoulders.

Perhaps the most important first step is to make sure you get an expert’s instruction on how to handle and swing a kettlebell. According to Lucinda LaRee, co-owner of City Fitness Gym, the only women-owned independent gym in Washington, DC, there are specific technique, alignment and weight considerations that need to be explained and demonstrated before attempting the multi-joint/range, compound muscle group movements that are used in kettlebells training. Make sure you have plenty of space wherever you are using kettlebells since some of the exercises require swinging in a large range of motion and using seemingly exaggerated, explosive movements. And, LaRee says, stop before you are at your limit and never drop or let go of the kettlebell!

For women over 50, LaRee says joint issues can be a problem when using kettlebells since many women in this age group are dealing with overuse injuries and arthritis in their joints. In addition, some women may have weak forearms, weak grip or small hands which can make it difficult to hold the kettlebell.

When starting out, LaRee says it’s important to practice the movement with a light to moderate weight first to gain confidence in the range of motion, and to learn to stabilize the legs and core while working with the momentum. Once this is mastered the weight can be increased to an amount where at least 8 repetitions can be completed with good form. Be mindful of injuries because they can happen; the most common are  wrist, shoulder and back strains as well as getting banged up by hitting yourself with the kettlebell, adds LaRee.

It can take several sessions to master the correct kettlebell swing so don’t get discouraged. And when you ‘get it,’ you’ll know. Even if you have a hard time mastering the proper swing there are other kettlebell exercises that are effective for strength training and core work such as push ups (put one hand on a kettle bell instead of the ground to do your push up, and alternate sides) and crunches (put both hands on either side of the kettlebell and lift it as you raise up in a crunch; then slowly come down with control of the kettlebell).

So give kettlebells a try if you haven’t already. With some focus and practice you will no doubt find that adding kettlebell training to your workout can be a fun and challenging way to build strength, power and endurance, and as LaRee says, “feel like you are training with the “Big Boys!”


Dina is the president of DRPR Communications and her clients represent the healthcare, fitness, caregiving, ecommerce, and technology sectors. Dina lives in Arlington, VA, and enjoys running, yoga, and travel with family and friends.


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Got Kettlebell? Swing it and Charge up Your Fitness Routine