Holding a kettlebell overhead, light or heavy, can be dangerous without good technique. Below, we discuss the benefits of kettlebell swings, common mistakes and swing variations we recommend, as well as some tips for keeping your form tight, regardless of your weightlifting abilities.
Kettlebell halo exercise topped off 5 standing ab exercises that sculpt your core with a kettlebell round-up, and there are other great benefits to be gained when doing core and back exercises regularly , in addition to hitting those hard obliques.
As with any exercise, if you are a beginner, pregnant, or returning from injury, we recommend that you talk to a medical professional or a qualified personal trainer first, especially if you plan to load with heavy weights.
I know – sigh – being told to climb and seek permission first is boring. But here are 7 things I wish I knew before I started lifting heavy weights for the first time if you’re wondering why exercising with caution (before your muscles) matters. If you are ready and prepared to lift, pick up one of the best kettlebells for free weights and read on for more.
Kettlebell Halo: Benefits
As we mentioned, the kettlebell swing hits the shoulders and abs, but that’s not all. The upper body exercise also develops the mobility of the shoulders by activating all three heads of the shoulders – anterior, lateral and posterior – the upper back, the arms and the various core muscles that wrap the body, not only the your abs.
Your core is made up of muscles like the erector spinae that hug the spine, the transverse abdominis muscles – a deeper layer of muscles that sit like a belt under your abs, and also extend to include your hip flexors and glutes. Building strength in your core will help keep you safe and protected during weight lifting and everyday tasks, so we like this exercise to develop core and back stability and strengthen some of the many muscles responsible for the posture.
How to do kettlebell halos
- Hold your kettlebell upside down by the horns and grip tightly to help activate your wrists, arms, upper back and shoulders.
- Brace your core and tighten your glutes to create a stable base.
- Press the kettlebell overhead and make sure you don’t arch your back or lean forward.
- From there, start rotating the kettlebell in circles around your head with your elbows bent.
- When the bell travels in front of your face, it changes direction. Keep a gentle knee bend and move with control.
Halo Kettlebell: Common Mistakes
Kettlebell exercises target the arms, shoulders, upper back and core, strengthening the muscles in the upper body. Doing them wrong can lead to injuries, so these are the most common mistakes that we recommend to avoid.
I arch my back
It is common to see people thrust their hips forward and arch their back under heavier loads. Try squeezing as many muscle groups as you can to create a strong pillar for the kettlebell to move. Tilt the pelvis slightly without curves. An arched back indicates a lack of core engagement or that you’re lifting too heavy, so focus on keeping your stomach tucked in and your chest proud and choose a weight you can control.
He moves with straight arms
Your elbows should be bent during the kettlebell swing so that you can rotate the bell around your head instead of above it. Make sure you have enough bend in your elbows to allow full control of the weight at all times.
There are a few ways to grip the kettlebell during the halo, but we recommend holding it by the horns with the bell upside down. You can also grab the bell itself with the handle facing up if you prefer, but make sure you have a secure position on the kettlebell.
Unlike the kettlebell bottom press, using both hands will help stabilize the weight with much less risk of falling. You can learn how to hold a kettlebell correctly with some grip techniques explained by a master kettlebell coach. However, avoid swinging your elbows outward and keep the bell close to your body.
Halo Kettlebell: Variations
There are many ways to progress or scale.
Experiment with different grips and weights to find a challenging kettlebell halo variation for you. You can also try the halo sitting or kneeling to challenge your core stability more, removing the legs from the equation. For some people, using a bench or chair can provide extra support for the back, but for others, sitting or kneeling without support adds challenge.
You can also add exercises to the kettlebell halo by lunging or squatting while rotating the bell. If your coordination is lacking, move into a low lunge or squat hold, then rotate the kettlebell from a holding position; this combines isometric (not moving) with isotonic (moving) contraction and increases the demand on your core muscles.
If you don’t feel confident controlling the kettlebell above your head, our fitness editor did 50 kettlebells Around The Worlds a day for a week – here’s what happened. She circles the bell around her hips instead, which helps work the arms and abs, improves grip strength and engages the upper body.
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