You may have heard this before, but do you know how this happens?
Lets think about the word flexible. What does that mean?
To be able to flex and extend your limbs through a full range of movement. For example, an inflexible person might struggle to fully flex at the hips and touch their toes due to tight hamstrings. Or, you may not be able to reach over head without compensating through your trunk.
So how does kettlebell training make you flexible?
Well besides the mobility work we do before and after sessions, there are a few exercises and techniques we apply that will help.
Here are three examples.
The Kettlebell swing – Hip flexors and hamstrings
Specifically the hard-style swing will help get you flexible and unlock tight hips, this is due to the tensing of the gluteal muscles as you finish the movement standing up tall and locking out your hips and knees. Every time you squeeze your glutes hard, the muscle on the opposing side which is the hip flexor will relax. A typical kettlebell session will nearly always feature some swings (especially if you train with us) , maybe a couple of hundred in-fact, that is a lot of time spent contracting the glutes and relaxing the hip flexors, eventually you will unlock those tight hip flexors which will also improve your performance in other exercises.
The hamstring is stretched when going into your hinge position, this can be accentuated by aggressively hiking the bell back on the eccentric phase. An alternative would be to have a training partner apply some force to the bell as it swings back between the legs, we call this spiked swings and its great for stretching those tight hammies.
The Goblet squat – Hip flexors , hamstrings, hip abductors.
Many people can’t squat well due to tightness in the aforementioned muscles, so here is a drill that will help. The goblet squat is a deep squat, it can be performed with a dumbbell or kettlebell held close to the chest, with your weight on your heels you descend into your squat and aim your elbows to line up on the inside of your knees. When you are here, push your knees apart or “pry” and try to find space in your groin for a 10 second count, return to the starting position before going for another rep. If you struggle to get all the way down you should try holding onto something like a door or support until your depth improves.
The Kettlebell windmill – Hamstrings
The windmill offers three benefits – overhead stability, strengthening of several core muscles and lengthening of the hamstring. There are a few ways you can perform the exercise, from the floor, over head or the more advanced double version. For a maximum hamstring stretch the overhead version will work best. Assume the correct foot positioning and hinge out to the side, now slowly run your hand down the inside of your leg and attempt to touch the floor, with enough practice, and a heavy enough bell you will eventually be able to get your entire hand on the floor, at which point you will have greatly increased your hamstring flexibility.
Kettlebell training has been referred to the “yoga of iron” and I think its easy to understand why. Most of the exercises blend not only strength but also flexibility and mobility.
Just one more of the numerous time saving benefits of kettlebell training.