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Women's Lifestyle Magazine

Kettlebells, Jump Ropes and Resistance Bands, Oh my! How to Use the Right Tools to Get the Most Out of Your Workout

Aug 29, 2018 12:28PM ● By WLMagazine
by Kelsey Emmanuel

Whether you are a gym pro or a newbie, when it comes to exercise equipment, there are a variety of options you can choose from and an endless ways to use them. In order to get a good sweat in, two or three fitness tools are all you need. Check out five of my favorite workout apparatus to use below!

Cardio: Jump Ropes and Box Jumps

Jump roping and box jumps are great ways to spice up your cardio work in HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and warm-ups. I recommend purchasing a jump rope and sizing it to your height. When sizing your jump rope, you want to step in the middle of the rope and pull is up to have the handles meet the bottom of your sternum. A speed rope is my preferred rope-choice; it's thin, and you can work on double-unders with them.

While jump roping, you want to keep your elbows tucked tightly to your body, and your hands should be slightly in front of your hips. Use your wrists to spin the rope, and jump straight up and down keeping your torso upright. Once you get these movements down, try advanced roping like double-unders ( jumping higher and spinning the rope faster).

For box jumps, keep a hip-width stance, use your arms for momentum to jump onto the box and land softly with both feet simultaneously. Keep the knees in line with your toes, complete a full knee and hip extension at the top, and step or jump down. To scale the box jump, you can do box step-ups. To make the box jump more challenging, you can use a higher box or do box jump-overs. Always focus on good take-off and landing techniques before moving to the next box height or level.

Strength: Kettlebells and Medicine Balls

Building your strength can easily be done by loading your exercise movements with kettlebells and medicine balls. If you are already doing squats and lunges in your workout, add a kettlebell or medicine ball to those movements by holding the sides of your tool with two hands in front of your chest and keeping it close to your body.

For arms, do kettlebell/ medicine ball shoulder press. Hold the kettlebell handle with the ball of the kettlebell resting on the back of your wrist. For medicine ball presses, hold the medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest, your feet should be at the hip-width stance, and your knees should be slightly bent. Keep elbows slightly in front of you and press the kettlebell/ medicine ball straight above your head.

Kettlebell deadlifts and kettlebell swings can help build your hamstrings. For the deadlift, have a flat back, slightly bent knees (you should feel tension in your hamstrings), eyes gazing at the floor in front of you (don’t crank your neck back), squeezed shoulder blades and straight arms. The kettlebell should be placed in between your feet. For the kettlebell swing, have a shoulder-width stance, your arms are straight, your hips descend back and down while keeping tension in hamstrings, your knees are in line with your toes, your hips and legs extend rapidly and drive the kettlebell up to eye level or overhead.

Add a kettlebell/ medicine ball to your ab exercises. While performing weighted Russian twists, keep the kettlebell/medicine ball close to your body. For kettlebell/medicine ball crunches, while laying on your back, fully extend your arms in front of your chest and crunch up to the point where your shoulder blades lift off the ground.

Strength and Flexibility: Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a must-have fitness tool! Bands can be used to improve your flexibility and increase your strength. Personally, I love using mini resistance bands and long resistance bands. For glute exercises such as fire hydrants, donkey kicks, clams, and leg lifts, wrap a mini resistance band around the middle of your thighs for extra tension. With longer resistance bands, do several arm exercises such as bent over row, shoulder press, tricep extensions, hammer curls and bicep curls by stepping on the middle of the band and pulling on the band.

Wrap a mini resistance band around your thighs for air squats to help with your range of motion. When doing banded-squats, you are forced to concentrate on pushing your legs and knees out. If you struggle with “wobbly knees” when you squat heavier weights, doing this sort of exercise will make your body aware of firing your glutes at the moment your knees want to cave in.

I hope you are able to add some of these tools and techniques to your workouts!  Happy Sweats!

Kelsey Emmanuel is a certified CrossFit Level 1 trainer. Follow along with her workout tips and tutorials on Instagram @kelsey.emmanuel and on Facebook at Kelsey’s Health Journey.