The kettlebell…a scary looking object that often lies untouched in the gym because no one dares attempt to use it! Alternatively some ‘fitness freak’ is seen swinging it around like an animal with its prey.
Beyond these visions, the kettlebell is by far one of the greatest and most beneficial tools you can discover and will without doubt push your rugby to the next level. It’s versatile, adaptable, easy to transport and has an incredible amount of benefits that we will further discuss.
So if you’re looking for that extra spring in you sprint, power surge through the scrum or strength to drive through the rucks and mauls, the kettlebell is a must to add into your regime.
The first benefit of the kettlebell, and potentially the most appealing aspect for many is that whilst also being an amazing tool for strength, the various exercises also hit some intense cardio – without the boredom of the bike, treadmill or cross trainer!
All the exercises performed with a kettlebell are compound, incorporating the whole body into dynamic movements, which work all muscle groups including the heart and lungs.
The kettlebell is also a fantastic way of training functional strength – the kind of strength that is very specific to rugby. The full body movements such as 2 hand swings, squat press, high pulls, snatches and overhead squats are key movements to developing muscles specific to the game of rugby.
Kettlebells are literally a fat furnace in your hands. The combination of full body explosive movements, developments of dense muscle mass and firing up the heart rate are all sure ways to get the metabolism spiked and burning all day.
The increased muscle mass created from the kettlebell will also give a significant spike to your resting metabolic rate, ensuring you burn calories all day, even whilst you just sat around relaxing.
Other benefits include improved coordination of the whole body, a vastly improved and well developed core, full body sculpting and shredding, build up of strength in ligaments, tendons and bones, and improved flexibility without the boredom of holding long stretches.
The key kettlebell exercises to get you started are the two-hand swing, the rack and the high pull. From just these three exercises all other movements can be developed
It is advised that based on being a regular resistance and cardio exercise taker, Males should start with a 12kg kettlebell and females an 8kg kettlebell.
Two hand kettlebell swing
Great exercise for all aspects of rugby, which works your explosive strength through the scrum, power through the core, hips and legs for the driving maul and stamina to push through the tough parts of the game.
- Begin by holding the kettlebell in 2 hands at the top of the handle, with your arms down straight, holding at waist height between the legs.
- Drop down into a standard squat position whilst holding the kettlebell at arm’s length, still between the legs.
- Once down in the full squat position drive upwards, and at the same time, swing the kettlebell up to just above shoulder height, ensuring the arms remain in an extended position with just a slight bend at the elbow.
- Once at the top drop into a squat with arms coming back down in between the legs again and repeat for the desired reps.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes facing forwards. Have a slight dip in the knees and tilt the hips/pelvis area forwards sticking the glutes out behind you.
- Hold a kettlebell in one hand at the centre of the handle. Keep the working elbow tucked into the side of your body and drive the knees back whilst snapping the hips forwards .
- Bring the kettlebell up and over the wrist so that it lands and rests in the triangle of the elbow joint resting on the outer bicep area.
- Control the kettlebell back down into the start position and repeat for desired reps before swapping arms and repeating the exercise.
The High Pull
- Set up by holding a kettlebell in one hand, between your legs and place feet just slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Get down into a standard squat position, and then drive upwards with the kettlebell, protruding the elbow back and brining the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
- Control the kettlebell back down and straight into the squat position. Repeat for the desired reps.
Try to perform these exercises once a week, for 2-3 sets of each, focusing on the activation of the core, hips, glutes and leg muscles. From these 3 basic exercises once mastered you can progress to more advanced kettlebell exercises such as snatches, one arm swings, squat press, rack and press and the dreaded kettlebell move for only the most hardcore of trainers…The Turkish get up!