5 Tips to Safely Add Kettlebells to Your Workout Routine

West Town Physical Therapy Kettlebells

Across the city, kettlebells workouts have become the latest craze. These workouts can be an effective tool to build strength, but your form is incredibly important to avoid injury.

We asked Ted Fournier, a Personal Trainer (NPTI-CPT) at Orange Shoe Personal Fitness, to provide his expertise about how to safely implement kettlebells into your workout.

Ted’s dedication to health and fitness stems from his constant battle with traumatic injuries incurred during a 2007 car accident. The healing and pain management benefits of being fit led Ted to leave a career in Commercial Banking and become a Personal Trainer and business owner.

Here are Ted’s recommendations:

1) Pay attention to certifications. Kettlebell swings are the most overused and under-taught exercise in the city. In many cases, you attend a class where a swing is demonstrated once quickly, and then you get thrown right in. These swings are very powerful, dynamic exercises that simply cannot be taught with one demonstration.

It is important to work with a trainer who is certified, who uses kettlebells themselves, and who has taught for a long time. Form is paramount, so set aside some time to learn properly, particularly when coming back from an injury. Trainers who have earned the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) are your safest bet.

2) Condition your body first. If you are not currently exercising or have any major injuries, don’t jump into kettlebells. First, treat your injuries. Then, condition your body with full-body, complex, multi-joint movements. A trainer can help with this, too.

3) Before swinging, learn the kettlebell Romanian deadlift (RDL). This move will teach you how to properly hinge your hips and utilize the posterior chain (your hamstrings, glutes and back), which are integral in swinging. In kettlebell swings, it is important to remember you aren’t squatting. Once you learn the hinge, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to properly swing.

4) Don’t be afraid of more weight. To keep good form, you need to use the proper – sometimes heavy – amount of weight. Kettlebell swings are full-body exercises, engaging the largest muscle groups all at once, so you need more weight for both form and effectiveness. The move is a natural pendulum motion versus a “lift,” so you need a good counterweight to your body.

5) Stop if you have pain! If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Circle back with your trainer for help.

Ted Fournier is an Personal Trainer (NPTI-CPT) at Orange Shoe Personal Fitness in Chicago’s North Center Neighborhood (3845 N Lincoln) and is in the process of opening up a second studio in Andersonville (5607 N Clark). Ted’s dedication to health and fitness stems from his constant battle with traumatic injuries incurred during a 2007 car accident. The healing and pain management benefits of being fit led him to leave a career in Commercial Banking and become a Personal Trainer and business owner. Ted and his colleagues aim to personalize fitness plans for each of their clients’ abilities and needs. He applies his rehabilitative experience, finance background and fervor for fun to his training philosophy. Ted believes that physical fitness should be enjoyed by all, regardless of skill level or challenges. While he enjoys working with a broad range of clients, it is Ted’s goal to help the disabled and traumatically injured stay fit, active and pain-free in order to enhance their lifestyle.

Photo credit: Flickr/Victor

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