A festival, a wedding and that kettlebell look
Despite the pandemic, one more season of the big fat Indian festivals and weddings is approaching. This time, to get that toned social media scorching look, say goodbye to extra kilos and belly fat with kettlebell exercises. IBNS correspondent Sudipto Maity wins over international medal-winning Kettlebell athlete Samrat Sen to demonstrate five easy drills and share vital tips
Remember the Green Day song 'Wake Me Up When September Ends'? Singer, Songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong may have had another context, but to us Indians, the end of September means the start of the marquee events.
There's Navratri, Durga Pujo, Diwali and Kali Pujo and the list goes on and on, especially if you're from the eastern part of the country. According to reports, between October and December, almost 20,000 marriages take place in India! Let that sink in.
The one common thing that binds these events is ostentation. Carefully curated pandals worth a lakhs (and a few crores in some cases), wardrobes that juxtaposes clothes bought in the last minute shopping spree and ones that were decided well ahead in time, looking at the perfect spot for that one glorious click that'll bear testament to those late nights et al.
And while we're busy with other aspects, we often forget to take care of ourselves. The clothes, the glitz and everything else will only be at its optimum best if we manage to look good, physically.
Staying fit is the key and for that- less is more.
Belly fats can be quite the damper, stripping you off of your confidence. You may be blessed with a photogenic face, but with an ungainly stomach, more and more photos are likely to resemble mugshots, because you're not confident enough to let people see all of you.
But you too can get rid of them, and in a quick time too. Remember, the better shaped you are, the better those clothes look on you.
Here are five kettlebell exercises that'll strengthen your body along with getting rid of belly fat. First and foremost, these exercises can also be done with dumbbells, but a kettlebell enables better mobility of the body.
If you are working out with a kettlebell, this exercise is a staple and must be done.
Stand comfortably with your legs apart, but not too wide, should be in line with your shoulder.
Place the kettlebell in front of you.
Pick the equipment- use both hands and firm grips, keep the knees bent a tad.
Kettlebell Swings. Images: Avishek Mitra/IBNS.
Start swinging the kettlebell from the floor backward between your legs. Use your hips, hamstring and back to push the kettlebell out.
The arm should act like a hook holding on to the kettlebell
Remember to keep your back straight.
While lifting the weight, keep the arms straight and bring it to chest height and a cycle is complete.
Target Muscles: Glutes, Hamstrings, Hips, Core and Back. Additionally, the forearms and grips are also used.
Kettlebell Goblet Squat:
Hold the weight in front of your chest by the sides of its handle.
Stand with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart, and keep toes out, a little, if you need to.
Take a deep breath.
Keeping the spine straight from your head to your hips, push your hips back and squat down. Think of it as sitting down into a chair. Go as low as your mobility allows you to.
Kettlebell Goblet Squat. Images: Avishek Mitra/IBNS.
With the help of your feet, hips and knees, come up and a cycle is complete.
Target muscle: Rectus abdominis, and deep core muscles, Spinal erectors, Quadriceps, Glutes and Hamstrings.
Kettlebell Clean and Push Press:
Start like you would in a kettlebell swing.
Remember, this is to be done one handed.
Grab the weight, and start swinging the weight from the floor backward between your legs.
Get the kettlebell above the bellybutton height, pull it back and insert your palm deep inside the kettlebell handle so the weight rests against the back of your wrist and forms a rack.
Kettlebell Clean and Push Press. Images: Avishek Mitra/IBNS.
While in the rack position, the weight should be just below shoulder height and your elbow should be on the hip crest. From this point, get the weight up or press it straight above your head while keeping your arm straight. You can also use a shallow squat (push) to press up a kettlebell.
Descend back to the rack position and then into the back swing and a cycle is complete.
Target muscle: Hamstrings and Glutes, Quadriceps, Posterior Chain, Upper Back, Traps, and Shoulders, and Triceps.
Kettlebell Walking Lunge:
This exercise can be done either with both hands or single handed. We are going for the one handed variation.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell in one hand. Kettlebell should be in a suitcase position.
Step forward with one leg and allow both knees to bend together.
Kettlebell Walking Lunge. Images: Avishek Mitra/IBNS.
Go down until the back knee is in contact with the floor. Keep the other arm straight (in a superman pose, think of it as the Hanuman in flight motion). This allows better balance.
Drive through the front foot and extend the knee as you get up fully and return to the base position. One cycle is completed.
Repeat with the other leg.
Target muscle: Quadriceps, Core, Glutes, Calves, Hamstrings, Grip.
The windmill is a highly technical exercise and should only be tried with heavier weights if you have done it before with lighter variations. This activity can also be performed without weight first, to master the right technique.
Start with a comfortable and strong stance.
Lift the kettlebell with one hand while keeping the torso straight.
The hips and toes should be turned 45 degrees away from the hand that is being used to lift the weight.
Push the hips out as you lower the other shoulder in between your legs and let the fingers touch the floor.
Kettlebell Windmill. Images: Avishek Mitra/IBNS.
While you can bend the front knee a little, the back leg should be kept straight.
While the kettlebell remains overhead, remember to watch the weight at all times to avoid losing balance and sustaining injuries.
Target muscle: Mainly the core, glutes, hamstrings and shoulders stability, hip mobility.
Dos and Don'ts
While kettlebell exercises can be done at home, if you're apprehensive about it, please take help of a professional and even consult a doctor or an expert before starting out.
"The ideal weight for you would be the one you're most comfortable with in the long run. No exercise is a one-time magic potion that'll get you straight back to shape. While some of these exercises can help in weight loss, provided it is done correctly, one has to understand that exercise is a long term solution and needs nurturing," says Sen.
"Please do not indulge in ego-lifting i.e.- don't lift weights that are beyond your physical ability for the sake of showing-off/ accepting challenges from someone/ or simply to gain more muscle. The idea is to look after your body and yourself. Do not let the weight control you, be the master, choose your weight carefully before starting out. Master the various techniques first," he adds.
Maintain a proper diet. it should be a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats and limit fast-food/oily foods. Eat well in advance, at least an hour before exercising. Avoid consumption of food while performing exercise and consume protein- Whey, eggs, or any other protein source after finishing. Don't forget to consume carbs, which will help to replenish energy.
Take rest as and when you need to while performing the exercise in order to recover.
Keep yourself hydrated and don't forget to breathe (inhale and exhale).
Sen adds, "Remember, resting is as important as working out. Whatever you do, please make sure to sleep for at least six to eight hours in a day, to give your body time to heal."
(Samrat Sen is an international Indian Kettlebell athlete, who has won gold for the country. Owner of COREFit, a Kolkata-based fitness brand with kettlebell as its USP, he is also the Director of Sport at International Kettlebell Lifting Federation (IKLF) and the Technical Chairman of Kettlebell Sport India Association (KSIA). He dreams of representing India at the Olympics if kettlebell ever gets a go ahead.)
Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS.