4 kettlebell exercises that are great for runners

Kettlebells might look a little intimidating, but they're actually a fast and effective way to improve your strength, core, endurance and balance – all essential for increasing your running power.

4 kettlebell exercises that are great for runners

These four kettlebell exercises will help you run faster and stronger, while giving you an all-over body workout to help boost your fat burn, too.
We teamed up with Eastbourne personal trainer, Matt Shore, to find out what a kettlebell actually is and why they work so well for runners.

What is a kettlebell?

Originating in Russia, these weights are shaped like a cannon ball with a fixed handle on the top. When you hold a kettlebell, the centre of mass is outside of the hands’ grip, which means that when exercises are performed, there is an increased load placed on the body as it tries to stabilise and absorb the weight’s momentum.

A workout with kettlebells doesn't have to be time consuming – an effective workout can take just 20 minutes and be done anywhere: a home, outdoors or in a gym.

For us runners, kettlebell workouts are a great way to target areas such as the core, legs and glutes. Strengthening these areas will lead to increased stability, endurance and power with every step, as well as improving your hip function to help you drive forwards.
Like other forms of weight training, using kettlebells doesn't mean you'll suddenly bulk up. Instead, you'll help to create a strong, lean body, perfect for withstanding the rigours of regular running training and events.

Alternate renegade rows

Alternate renegade rows are used to work the core and upper back. Lifting the load in such an awkward position requires great core strength and stability, while improving posture – perfect for runners’ needs.

  • Place two kettlebells on the floor, shoulder-width apart
  • Get into the push-up position with your body straight, then use the handles of the kettlebells to support your upper body.
  • If you're finding it hard to balance, position your feet wider for support
  • Push one kettlebell into the floor and row the other, pulling it up and into your side.
  • Lower the kettlebell to the floor and repeat on the opposite site.

Not sure if you're rowing the right way? Watch Onnit's full demo

Kettlebell tornado lunge

This is useful for developing unilateral leg strength, especially in the hamstrings and glutes. In addition, a high degree of stability is needed to prevent collapse at the bottom of the move.

  • With your feet shoulder-width apart, hold your kettlebells down by your sides. Looking straight forwards, with your chest up and your shoulders back, engage your core. This is your starting position.
  • Shift your weight into your right foot and start stepping back with your left. Keeping your body facing forwards, place your left leg behind your right in a wide, lateral step.
  • Lower into a lunge position by bending your knees and lowering your body straight down with your back straight.
  • Continue until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle.
  • Slowly lift back up and return your left leg to its starting position.
  • Alternate the movement, switching between left and right side.

Master those lunges and check your form with a FitMYBox tutorial

Two-handed kettlebell swing

This targets the entire posterior chain, namely glutes, hamstrings and lower back, and is perfect for developing power, strength and endurance, leading to increased hip function, reduced risk of injury and faster running times.

  • Stand behind one kettlebell with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend over with your knees bent, but your back straight.
  • Extend your arms downward and grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands. Lift it off the floor.
  • Drive your hips forwards, keeping your torso upright and knees straight, so you begin to push the kettlebell forwards and upwards, keeping your arms straight and your back taut.
  • Allow it to swing back down between your legs.
  • Repeat the movement and continue to swing the kettlebell.

Check your form with StrongFirst's two handed swing demonstration

Kettlebell windmill

This strengthens the core while developing shoulder stability and core strength, giving you the ability to drive forwards and keep upright as you run.

  • Place a kettlebell in front of your foot and press overhead with your opposite arm.
  • Clean the kettlebell to your shoulder by extending through the legs and hips as you pull the weight. Rotate your wrist, so your palm faces forward.
  • Keeping the kettlebell locked out at all times, lean your hip to one side, stick your bum out and slowly reach down until your hand is on the floor. Keep your eyes on the weight at all times.
  • Once back on the floor, swap hands and repeat on the opposite side.

Take a look at Steve Cotter's full windmill tutorial for a simple step by step guide.

If you liked our kettlebell workout, you can find more strength training exercises here

Don't have access to kettlebells? Try doing bodyweight exercises instead.

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