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3 Unconventional Kettlebell Core Exercises

unconventional-gadgets-and-fads-450x318The fitness industry is constantly evolving. New tools and training methods pop up at your neighborhood gym, on TV, and in magazines on a regular basis. Are they always new, though? You’d be surprised!

Many of these tools are touted as the latest-and-greatest, guaranteed to get you better and faster results than anything you’ve tried before. Their popularity is often short-lived, and they eventually fade away. There are some tools, however, that have been around for centuries. Their popularity may rise and fall as some temporary fads enjoy their moment in the spotlight. But these tools are timeless, and much like certain fashions, they never go out of style.

unconventional-vintage-weightlifter-woman-450x277The kettlebell is an example of one of those timeless tools. It has been around forever, and started gaining popularity again about 15 years ago. When I first got acquainted with kettlebells in 2004, like many people, I thought it was some new fad!

The problem that arises with a new tool, or one that resurfaces, is that suddenly everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. In the kettlebell community, while it’s exciting that so many people are eager to use these tools, we often see workout enthusiasts as well as trainers executing traditional exercises with poor technique or inventing new (and often questionable) exercises without taking the time to attend a certification or learn from someone who has. The situation is ripe for an accident or injury.

As kettlebells become more widely available in mainstream fitness, it can get quite overwhelming for beginners trying to wade through all the information out there: videos and articles available online, workouts from celebrity trainers on TV and in magazines. It’s hard for a someone who is new to kettlebells to discern between proper and unsafe technique, and to know if what they’re looking at is a properly executed traditional kettlebell exercise, or if not traditional, at the very least a safe movement.

Surprisingly, the kettlebell is still considered a fad by some, but any amount of time invested in understanding and studying its proper use makes it crystal clear just how efficient even the basic exercises are.

After running a gym where I taught 25 to 30 semi-private training classes each week for over six years, I learned that it takes time for some people—even after experiencing tremendous strength gains and fat loss—to believe this training modality can deliver all they need. They often think they need more. “It can’t be that simple!”

To address this, as a business owner and coach you learn to start with a little of what your clients want and a lot of what they need. Case in point: so many people think they must “feel the burn” or they didn’t work their abs.  The question I heard most often at the end of a training session was, “Can we do some abs now?” As a coach, I’m thinking, “You do realize that all our kettlebell training works your abs, right?” But as a business owner I understand that this is the ‘a little of what they want’ part.

If the “burn” is what you are after, the following exercises are right up your alley.

Disclaimer: The following three exercises are not considered traditional kettlebell exercises, and are not taught at StrongFirst kettlebell certifications. These exercises just happen to be more effective with a kettlebell than with another training tool.

Scroll down to see step-by step instructions for the exercises in this video.



Alternating Knee Tuck

  1. Begin Supine (laying on your back).
  2. Bell should be sitting on the ground above your head.
  3. Extend your legs and lift them a few inches off the ground.
  4. Grip the kettlebell handle with both hands.
  5. Keep your low back in contact with the floor.
  6. Simultaneously pull the bell over your head and one knee toward your chest.
  7. Fully extend your arms and leg to the starting position.
  8. Repeat the move alternating legs with each repetition.

Half-Kneeling Wood Chop

  1. Begin with your right knee in a half-kneeling stance.
  2. Place the kettlebell in the rack position on the left side of your body.
  3. “Throw” the bell across and down toward your right hip.
  4. Stay tall and don’t allow the hip to hinge during the movement.
  5. Match the breathing, inhaling on the throw and exhaling on the return.

Standing Cross Crunch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hinge and pick up the bell safely by the horns.
  3. Simultaneously pull your right elbow and your left knee together.
  4. Inhale while standing and exhale as you cross your body’s midline and connect the elbow and knee.
  5. Repeat the move for desired reps and switch sides, or alternate sides with each rep.

While I whole-heartedly believe in the effectiveness of the basic kettlebell skills that we teach at our certifications and pride myself in teaching quality movement over quantity, I also understand that some people draw enjoyment and motivation from a little more variety in their training.

If you’re learning kettlebell skills from a trainer, I urge you to verify that he or she is certified to teach them. The fact that someone has a general personal training certification, is published in a popular fitness magazine, or is representing a large, well-known fitness or sports organization, doesn’t automatically guarantee that this person is an authority on all training modalities.

If you want to use a tool that is new to you, remember that quality movement and proper technique are important to help you attain your goals efficiently and keep you injury-free.

Adding variety to your training program can not only help you continue to make progress, it can also keep things challenging and fun. If you want to add some variety to your workout and are looking for some guidance, we can help!

A message from GGS…

At Girls Gone Strong, we want you to feel confident knowing that what you’re doing to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong is not only based on tested, reliable, and safe information from trustworthy sources, but also that it is effective and efficient.

That’s why we developed our flagship training system, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training.

We’ve cut through all that noise and the BS with a sane, sustainable, and efficient approach that will help you achieve maximum results, whether you’re brand new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.
With four different 16-week programs—that’s 64 weeks of training—you get over a year’s worth of workouts, including progressions to ensure that you continue making progress. You’ll also get a training manual, exercise glossary, progress tracker, a bonus conditioning manual, plus a video library with over 70 high-definition videos breaking down each exercise, step by step.

We believe fitness should enhance your life instead of become your life. If you exercise in a way that you actually enjoy, staying fit and strong won’t ever feel like a drag. You’ll look forward to it for years to come.

If you want an entire training system that will help you look and feel your best, The Modern Woman's Guide to Strength Training is for you!

Learn more here!

About The Author: Karen Smith

Karen Smith is a highly-respected trainer and coach specializing in kettlebell and bodyweight strength training. She is a StrongFirst SFG Master Instructor and Chief Bodyweight Instructor. Karen travels the world instructing and certifying individuals through StrongFirst, and works with clients online and in person. Learn more about Karen on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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