Kettlebells are one of the most versatile tool in the fitness and rehab industries. While utilized primarily in the cross training setting, runners can also benefit from developing a kettlebell routine. The following are five exercises to help runners prevent injury and perform at a higher level.
1. Kettlebell Swings
The most common cause of pain and injury of a runner can be attributed to dysfunction at the hips. The kettlebell swing teaches the runner how to generate power from their hips in order control where the foot lands and how much stress is placed on the hips and knees.
To Perform: Holding Kettlebell with both hands in front of the body. Hinge at hips, lowering kettlebell. Shoot the hips forward to bring kettlebell parallel with floor. Let kettlebell. Let kettlebell naturally fall between legs while you hinge at the hips and repeat hip explosion to bring kettlebell back up. Perform for one minute.
2. Single Leg Deadlift
Runners spend upwards of 60% of their time in a single leg stance, meaning that improving balance and strength on one leg is vital to improving the longevity of your running career. The single leg dead lift incorporates balance with strengthening of the hamstrings and glutes, a great all around exercise for runners.
To Perform: Place medium to light kettlebell in front of body. Balancing on right leg, bring left leg back, hinging at hips, and pick kettlebell up with LEFT hand. Slowly lower to ground. Repeat 30 seconds and switch sides.
3. Overhead Reverse Lunge
The overhead reverse lunge builds strength in the glutes and hamstrings while requiring the runner to engage their core stabilizers.
To perform: Press medium to light kettlebell overhead with one arm. Take a step back with opposite leg and perform a reverse lunge. Return to starting position and repeat with same leg. Repeat with kettlebell press of opposite arm.
4. Overhead Balance
Because of the amount of time runners spend in a single leg stance, it’s important to be able to balance in the single leg stance. The overhead press adds a lateral core stability challenge to a traditional balance exercise.
To perform: Press medium to light kettlebell overhead. Stand on OPPOSITE leg and balance for 20 seconds. Close eyes for an extra challenge.
5. Goblet Squat
Maintaining proper mobility and stability of the hips is vital for a runner’s longevity. The goblet squat is a challenging squat exercise that tests lower body mobility and stability.
To perform: Hold kettlebell with both hands close to the body. Perform squat by first shooting butt back (hinging at the hips), and then bending at knee, keeping shins vertical and lowering until thighs are parallel with floor.