Team Bodybuilding.com and Signature-sponsored athlete Tanner Hobbs is back and applying her trademark creativity by giving you a full-body workout using only one piece of equipment: a kettlebell.
"It's one of my favorite, most versatile pieces of gym equipment," says Hobbs. "It's great for a full-body workout because it's highly functional."
Since this is a quick, full-body workout, each exercise must hit as many muscle groups as possible. Hobbs does this by merging two exercises to target more muscles in less time. This workout should take you about 45 minutes to an hour, and all you need is a kettlebell. Ready? Let's go!
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Kettlebell Goblet Squat to Romanian Deadlift
For the first part of this exercise, grip the kettlebell "by the horns," which means holding the base of the handle on either side with your pinkies touching the body of the kettlebell. Holding the kettlebell at chest height, perform one squat and come back up.
Then, slip the kettlebell down so you're now holding the top of the handle and hinge from the hips for a Romanian deadlift. Once you come back up, lift the kettlebell back up to the first hold, and begin another rep. Repeat this sequence for all 12 reps.
"Keep your toes slightly pointed out," adds Hobbs. "And squeeze your glutes at the top of each movement."
The kettlebell swing is a classic, total-body exercise that hits many of the big muscles in your body—glutes, hamstrings, core—at once. But not everybody performs in in the a way that maximizes these benefits. One of the most common mistakes with the kettlebell swing? Using your arms to lift the weight.
As Hobbs explains, upper-body strength is not the key to a good kettlebell swing. "It's all in the hips," she says. "Drive your butt back, dropping the kettlebell between your leg, and then thrust your hips forward to propel the kettlebell up to shoulder height."
It may take some time to perfect this move, but use the momentum to your advantage. Try to find a rhythm with the swing, working with gravity to drop the weight back down before swinging the weight back up with your hips.
Plank With Kettlebell Tap
Assume an elbow plank position with a kettlebell on the ground in front of you so you can reach out and tap the weight one hand at a time while you hold your plank. With isometric exercises, less is more when it comes to movement.
"Keep your body parallel to the ground and remain as still as possible by squeezing your core," says Hobbs.
Minimizing movement forces your core muscles to engage each time you lift an arm to tap the kettlebell. If it's too difficult to hold your body steady, try stepping your feet shoulder-width apart. If it's too easy, move your feet closer together or balance on one foot.
Kettlebell Sumo High Pull
By combining a lower-body exercise like a sumo deadlift with a strictly upper-body exercise, this combination is a true total-body exercise—and one of Hobbs' favorites. However, she suggests start in a narrow stance with your feet a few inches apart, and thinking of the first half of the movement more like a squat than a deadlift. Hold the top of the kettlebell as you go down, then use momentum as you stand up to lift the kettlebell in a high pull.
"Keep your head neutral as you stand up from the squat," says Hobbs. "Pull the kettlebell toward your chin by driving your elbows toward the sky."
Lower the weight back down, and repeat for the remaining reps.
Kettlebell Overhead Triceps Extension
Like the plank taps, the secret of this exercise is to keep your core tight and resist momentum. Hold the kettlebell (or dumbbell or plate, if that's all you have) straight overhead with both hands in a standing position. Lower the kettlebell behind your head, then exhale and press the weight back up.
"Keep your elbows in tight toward your ears," says Hobbs. "Use a controlled, steady pace and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement."
Avoid arching your back or swinging to lift the weight. If you have trouble completing all 12 reps, use a lighter weight.
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