Bring on the ’Bells!

by Jane Bahneman, MS on Sep 05, 2012


Prepare class for the physiological demands of kettlebell training.

Group fitness instructors are continually trying to spark interest. We try new sequences, different teaching methods and the latest equipment to keep workouts fresh. The rise in popularity of kettlebell training is no surprise: packing a time-efficient, metabolic punch, it’s a great tool for all-around fitness. Program kettlebell training as a standalone group class or integrate it into pre-existing formats for variety and intensity. Regardless of which option you choose, get the proper training and always lead a safe and effective warm-up.

Put safety and injury prevention first. Make sure the training surface is flat, the area is clear and you have ample space between participants. Always use common sense and good judgment.


The overall purpose of a kettlebell warm-up is to ready the physical body and to focus the mind for the workout ahead. It’s important to prepare joints, warm connective tissue and increase blood flow to muscles so the body is adequately prepared for explosive movements. Before even touching the kettlebell, move the neck, shoulders, wrists, back, hips, knees and ankles through full range of motion. Then perform a few exercises with a light kettlebell. This will show participants how to move efficiently while getting a feel for proper grip and handling. You might also take your class through “empty sets,” using full range of motion but without a kettlebell. Practicing swings, squats, deadlifts, cleans and snatches wakes up the neurological system.

The Sequence

Perform the following without the kettlebell. Do all these movements while standing.

Ear/Chin Taps. Laterally flex neck to move ear toward shoulder without elevating it. Alternate sides. Next, move chin across body and try to tap shoulder (again, do not elevate shoulder). Repeat.

Scapular Movement. Elevate and depress shoulder girdle in frontal plane. Extend arms parallel to ground in front of body, and retract and protract scapulae while keeping shoulders down. Repeat each movement 5–10 times.

Lateral Side Stretch. With arms overhead and palms pressed together, laterally flex spine without allowing pelvis to move. Repeat side to side 5–10 times.

Multiplanar Loose Arm-Swings. Allow arms to extend as wide as possible. Swing them loosely across body and front to back. Also swing arms through full rotation. Repeat 5–10 times in each direction.

Elbow Press/Reverse Prayer. Bring hands, forearms and elbows together in front of chest; press and hold for count of 5. Press hands together behind back in prayer position; hold for count of 5.

Wrist Rotations. Press hands together in front of body and rotate wrists clockwise and counterclockwise 5–10 times.

Standing Thoracic Flexion/Extension. Flex at hips, and place hands on thighs. Inhale: extend spine. Exhale: round spine. Repeat 5–10 times.

Anterior/Posterior Pelvic Tilts. Stand with feet hip distance apart. Keep upper and lower body as “quiet” as possible. Tilt pelvis anteriorly and posteriorly. Repeat 5–10 times and finish in neutral position.

Pelvic Rotations. With feet hip distance apart, rotate hips clockwise and counterclockwise 5–10 times and finish in neutral.

Deep Squats. With feet wider than hips (toes can be slightly turned out), sit back in deep squat, with weight in heels. Keeping spine reasonably straight, push hips back and keep shins vertical. Do not allow knees to buckle in. Rise up, and with each rep, lower into progressively deeper squat (without discomfort). Repeat 5–10 times.

Side Lunges. Start with feet close together and take wide step out to side, flexing knee. Slide upper body back toward stationary leg. Repeat on each side 5–10 times.

Ankle Range of Motion. Lift one leg off ground and rotate, point and flex ankle joint through full range of motion 5–10 times. Repeat on opposite side.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 9, Issue 9

© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Jane Bahneman, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Jane Bahneman, MS, owns Well Equippedâ„¢ education and consulting, which provides leadership for fitness educators and specializes in fitness and wellness event management and special projects. Certif...


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