Forget long sweat sessions, exercising with a kettlebell can torch 60 percent more calories, doubling toning results in half the time. Not sure where to start on your kettlebell journey? Here, “The Exercise Doctor” Michele Olson, Ph.D., shares an easy routine that can trim inches and blast fat in record time.
Tush Tightener: Kettlebell Swings
“Unlike traditional weight training, kettlebell workouts involve the entire body rather than isolating one muscle group at a time,” explains Olson. In a classic kettlebell swing, the power to swing the kettlebell forward and up comes from the hamstrings and gluteus maximus, helping to sculpt a round and perky backside.
To do: Hold an 8-pound kettlebell in front of you with both hands, arms straight and feet wide. Keeping your chest lifted, bend into a squat, then press your hips up and forward, letting the kettlebell swing up to shoulder height. Repeat for 15 reps. (Kettlebells start at $10 at Walmart.com.)
Bust Booster: Upright Rows
Upright rows engage the pectoral muscles and the anterior (or front) deltoids, says Olson, to lift the chest and melt away pesky pit pudge and bra-strap bulges. The result: a smooth, toned neckline and an enviable upper half.
To do: Hold a 5-pound kettlebell with one hand in front of your body. Keeping your back straight and shoulders pressed down, lead with the elbow to pull the kettlebell up to below your chin, keeping the elbow up and off the body, then lower back down. Do 15 reps, then switch sides.
Shoulder Sculptor: Push Presses
Maintaining a steady base during a standing push press makes it a total-body toner, notes Olson. And the irregular shape of the kettlebell engages all of the muscles in the shoulders and upper back, including the front, lateral and rear deltoids, triceps and trapezius muscles to sculpt sexy shoulders and strong arms.
To do: Hold a 5-pound kettlebell in one hand. Stagger your feet and bring the kettlebell to your shoulder. With slightly bent knees, press the kettlebell straight up overhead, then lower back down. Do 15 reps, then switch sides.
Thigh Trimmer: Tactical Lunges
Lunging with a kettlebell places added resistance on the calorie-burning quads and hamstrings, says Olson, while passing it engages the abs to shrink a menopot. The payoff: a long, lean lower half.
To do: Start with your feet together, holding an 8-pound kettlebell with your left hand. Take a large step back with your left leg and bend both knees to form right angles. Pass the kettlebell under your front thigh to your right hand, then return to standing. Repeat, stepping back with the right. That’s one rep; do 15.
Belly Flattener: Get-Up Sit-Ups
This roll-up exercise is a superb allover belly-fat blaster, cheers Olson. Keeping one leg flat on the floor engages the hard-to-reach lower abs to flatten a belly bulge, while holding the kettlebell in the air engages the upper abs to tone the area below the bra line.
To do: Lie on your back on the floor with your right leg straight and left leg bent. Extend a 5-pound kettlebell in the air above your chest with your right hand. Using your left hand for support and looking at the kettlebell, roll up to seated, then roll back down. Do 15 reps, then switch sides.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.