Choose the right kettlebell
The first step to using kettlebells safely is picking the right one, and there are a few things to keep in mind are you start browsing. Firstly, you need to pick the right weight for you. To do so, we recommend going to your local fitness store so that you can get a feel for each weight and get the advice of a sales associate. As a rule of thumb, men tend to go too heavy and women tend to go too light. Remember: you want to push yourself, but not hurt yourself!
You’ll also want to get a kettlebell that is the right size for you. The handle should be wide enough so that you can grip it with both hands without having them overlap.
The worst thing that can happen in buying the wrong kettlebell is that you’ll hurt yourself. The second worst thing is that your kettlebell goes flying across the room during a swing and hurts someone else. To avoid this kind of catastrophe, buy a kettlebell that is molded from one continuous piece of material. Some kettlebells are two pieces: the ball and the handle. Steer clear of those ones. You don’t want your kettlebell to break apart mid-workout!
Make sure your back is in the right position
During a kettlebell workout, your hips, not your back, should absorb the force of the kettlebell. To do so, your back should be in a neutral spine position. Dummies.com has the following tips for getting into the neutral spine position so that you protect your precious back:
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms down at your sides; focus your eye gaze on a point about six feet in front of you on the floor to keep your neck and head position neutral.
- Reach your hips back as if you’re reaching back for a chair, and let your arms follow your hips back.
- If you’re in the right position, you look like you’re getting ready to take a vertical leap in the air.
- Look in the mirror; if you achieved neutral spine, you have a nice, natural S curve in your spine (in other words, your back isn’t rounded).
Learn proper breathing
Proper breath work is essential for using a kettlebell safely. As I said above, it’s important to minimize the amount of force that you exert on your spine. To protect your spine, you need to use your breath to tighten your abdominal muscles, a technique called abdominal bracing. To master this technique, take some time to practice breathing in and out with your hands on your abdomen. Get a sense of how you can tighten your abdominals as you breathe out. This might be a little different from what you’re used to doing, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly!