Best Strength Training for Runners: Kettlebells
I am often asked what I do for my strength training in addition to my running, cycling, swimming, and various activities. I don’t pay for gym memberships, I don’t pay for classes, I keep it all at home on a yoga mat in front of a mirror. What do I do? I first found kettlebells because of a podcast I listen to every day: The Joe Rogan Experience. Yes, this is the Fear Factor guy, but he is very knowledgeable on a lot of topics. I can’t get enough of it.
How to Start With Kettlebells
1. Get a Kettlebell
I think the infographic below does a pretty good job at explaining kettlebells, but I do have one disagreement with the starting weights of the kettlebells. I would recommend 5lbs for women and 10lbs for men, more if you feel you’re already past that level.
2. Educate Yourself On Movement Patterns
It is very important to make sure you know the correct movement patterns and ways to support the kettlebell. If not, it can easily lead to injury. My favorite book for getting educated on kettlebells was Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett. He does an amazing job at explaining how the body works and demonstrating the correct movements.
3. Find a Good Routine
Finding the kettlebell workout that works best for you can be a bit of a chore. My favorite is Extreme Kettlebells by Keith Weber. This DVD has 7 workouts and I tend to do: The Man Maker, Upper Body Blast, Swing Workout, Turkish Getup, and Ab Routine. I can finish this in around 30 mins and come out with an amazing workout.
4. Create a Workout Space
You will need some space to do your kettlebell workouts. My workout space is only about 8 feet long by 3 feet wide and this is all I need. I usually throw down a yoga mat to catch the sweat and to provide good footing, then I am good to go!
This infographic does a nice job at explaining basics of kettlebells:
Top Benefits of Kettlebells for Runners:
1. Full Body Training
Kettlebells allow runners to work parts of their body in ways they don’t get to when they run. This leads to better strength and motion in your overall running.
2. Increased Range of Motion and Mobility
Many running injuries are a result of lack of range of motion or lack of mobility. Kettlebells help runners to gain range of motion and mobility through the exercise routines.
3. Strength Gains with Minimal Mass Gains
Kettlebells are part cardio and part strength training. The muscle gains from kettlebells are generally more in the form of toning rather than big muscle gains when done right. Perfect for endurance running.
4. Ease of Everyday Tasks
When you get better at the functional movements of kettlebell training, you get better at the functional movements of everyday life such as carrying groceries, being a parent, and doing housework.
5. Quick and Easy to Fit into Routine
Kettlebell workouts usually range from 5-12 minutes for each routine. Stacking a few of these together is a great way to get in a quick workout.
6. Inexpensive Strength Training
There are no gym memberships needed for this. Just a mat, kettlebells, and an instructional DVD.
7. Increased Core Strength
Kettlebell movements really help to strengthen up the abs as they are full body exercises. Core strength helps runners keep good posture during the run.
I hope this article gave you a nice introduction into kettlebells. Now go out, get a kettlebell and get to it! Feel free to send an email if you have questions or are looking for recommendations!