Training

The 4 Best Kettlebell Exercises For Runners

Kettlebells exercises are not only rising in popularity, but they are also very effective forms of strength training for runners.


The Kettlebell Swing

“The main idea behind any successful kettlebell swing is the hip hinge,” explains Joseph Morstad, a two-time triathlete, author and fitness and nutrition coach. “Your hips get pushed back, not down, to use the glutes/hamstrings mainly throughout the swing.”

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To start the swing, do your best impression of a “gorilla hiking a football.” Place hands on the kettlebell. Make sure your butt is pushed back, you have a slight knee bend and your back is straight, not rounded.

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“Hike” the kettlebell back between your legs. Think about squeezing your glutes (this will drive them forward) as you stand up.

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Squeeze the glutes hard as you use them to propel the kettlebell forward, not up. Getting the kettlebell level to your belly button is high enough to start. The top of the swing is where every muscle on the backside of your body is working. Focus especially on holding the glutes here. Let the bell float back down into the “gorilla hiking a football” position. Keep the kettlebell close to your body as it swings back down on the downswing. That’s one rep.

Related: Why Runners Should Use Kettlebells

Try the “touch the wall” drill: Stand about 12-16 inches from a wall, facing away. Hinge and push your butt back to touch the wall. Stand up. That’s the move you want during the swing. If you squat at all your butt will miss the wall.


The Goblet Squat

From standing athletic position, feet just about shoulder width, hold the kettlebell with both hands on side of handle with it as close to your body (sternum) as possible. “Elbows should be pointing down towards knees,” explains Morstad.

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Think, sit back and down, letting the hips and knees move at the same time (front and side view shown above). Try to get your elbows to touch just above your knees at bottom position of the squat. Be aware to not let your knees cave inward; squeezing the glutes helps avoid this. Keep glutes and leg muscles strong, abs tight, with back as straight as possible here in the bottom position of the squat.

Reverse position by pushing your feet through the floor to return to standing position. That’s one rep.


Kettlebell Carries

Choose from one of three starting positions.

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This is suitcase position, because it looks like you are holding a suitcase. Get into a position as if you’re about to deadlift the weight with the kettlebell just on the outside of one leg.

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This is racked position—the kettlebell rests comfortably on outside of one forearm. Keep both forearms vertical with elbows pointing down towards the knees. Avoid letting your wrist bend.

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This is goblet position, like you’re about to drink out of a big goblet while holding the kettlebell on the sides of the handle.

Once the starting position is achieved, the carry part of this exercise is simply walking without tilting towards the side where you are carrying the kettlebell. The offset weight makes the core muscles work hard. You should walk at a manageable pace; slower is good. Stay tall through your spine with core and abs strong and breathing. Try walking 40-50 feet—that’s one rep.


Deadbugs

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Start by lying on your right side with right hand grasping the handle of the kettlebell, palm pointing up toward the sky. Left hand on top of the handle will help give more control.

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Keeping both hands on kettlebell, and in one piece with your entire body, roll to your back. With both hands on kettlebell, right hand holding handle of kettlebell, press the weight up into position. Keep right arm strong and locked into place here. Push entire back into the floor and get into your best imitation of a “dead bug”. Both arms pointing up to the sky. Both knees in a 90 degree angle.

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Slowly reach the left arm overhead to the floor while simultaneously extending the right leg into a straight leg. Make sure to breathe during exercise. The goal is to actively push your lower back into the floor by squeezing your abs and bracing as if something heavy was about to jump on your stomach! Make sure to repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.

Note: Avoid over-reaching with your arm or leg. If you feel your lower back coming off the floor bring your arm and leg back closer to the starting positions.