The kettlebell. It's a cast iron ball with a handle. Sure, just picking the thing up has got to be exercise, but is that all there is to it?
Kaysville Sportsplex certified personal trainer Garrett Packer, who has received special training in kettlebell work, said the design makes it a perfect tool for adding power and variety to a workout.
"It's another tool to increase performance. You can get great results in a short amount of time," he said. "You can do new things and be creative. The kettlebell will add variety and spice up your workout."
The results he refers to include hip control and tighter shoulder, leg, gluteus and back muscles.
You can do traditional exercises, like a squat, or a clean and press, with a kettlebell, but because it is denser, more muscles are recruited, making the exercise more challenging, Packer says.
"It's really good for the core. It's quick, explosive. It's good for athletes in the field who need to perform," he adds.
Although many of the exercises are explosive, you should use a controlled motion while doing them and engage the muscles through the hips, core and buttocks.
"The arms should serve as a guide, with the movement coming from the hips and core," he said.
Beginners can do kettlebell exercises, but they should start with a light weight and watch themselves in the mirror.
"Always watch that you don't hit your knees. It's cast iron and you don't want to get injured. Make sure a trainer is there. Use a 10- or 15-pound kettlebell, and as you get more experience, you can go up in weight," he said.
The following kettlebell exercises are some of Packer's favorites. He recommends adding a few of the exercises, doing three to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions, to your regular fitness regimen.
Swing -- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Grip a kettlebell with two hands with the weight of the ball centered in the middle finger. Swing the kettlebell to shoulder height or straight overhead and hold for one second. Keeping the movement slow and in control, return the kettlebell to starting position.
Squat and press -- Stand with legs shoulder-width apart or wider and grip a kettlebell in each hand, holding them at chest height a few inches apart with palms together. Tilt your hips back and squat downward like you are sitting into a chair, keeping the knees behind your toes. Maintaining an upright torso, continue down into the squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor while raising the arms overhead, rotating the palms so they face forward at the end of the movement. Return to starting position.
Single-arm clean and press -- Start with a kettlebell on the ground and stand with legs at least shoulder-width apart. Grab the kettlebell and lift it to shoulder height with the palm facing the body. Then shrug and press the bell overhead, palms facing forward, using a slight throw and catch.
Single-arm alternate swing -- Standing with the legs at least shoulder-width apart, grip a kettlebell, centering its weight in the middle finger, and swing it to shoulder height. Let go, quickly catch the kettlebell with the other arm and return to starting position.
Lunge -- Grip the round part of a kettlebell with two hands and hold at chest height. Start with your feet together and shoulders back. Take a large step forward with the right foot. Lower to a 90-degree position while pressing the kettlebell overhead. Be sure to keep the torso upright, the shoulders back and the knee behind the toe. Push off the heel of the front leg and return to starting position, lowering the kettlebell back to the chest.
Overhead squat -- Stand with the feet at least shoulder-width apart and hold two kettlebells straight overhead. Tilt your hips back and squat downward like you are sitting into a chair, keeping the knees behind your toes. Maintaining an upright torso, continue down into the squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and slowly return to starting position. As you complete each repetition, keep the arms straight overhead.