There are numerous health benefits in adding resistance exercises into your fitness routine. From improving body composition, and protecting joints to improving bone density; the pros of resistance exercise far outweigh the cons. Here are 4 of my favorite exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home with minimal equipment; in this case, just a kettlebell. These exercises will provide benefits to the upper and lower body in regards to muscle building and fat burning; in addition to building a stronger core.
The first exercise is the goblet squat. It’s similar to the front squat, but utilizes a kettlebell instead of a barbell. There are many benefits for people of all fitness levels and abilities. First, it requires less compressive forces on the lower back and less torque on the spine in general. The front squat is a great core exercise due to the resistance of trunk flexion that is required. In addition, when compared to the deadlift and kettlebell swing (also on this list), the front squat targets the quadriceps more than the hamstrings, making sure we cover all the major muscle groups with these exercises.
The single leg kettlebell deadlift is another simple movement with great fat burning and muscle building benefits. The single leg deadlift has all the benefits of a traditional deadlift; mainly improved core strength, lumbar erectors, hamstring and glute strength too. The single leg deadlift will require more balance and coordination than a more traditional deadlift. It is also a great exercise to work on asymmetries in strength of the lower body.
The next exercise could be a blog post all its own; the kettlebell swing. The kettlebell swing is a great tool to build strength and endurance. As opposed to running or cycling, for example, the kettlebell swings are building strength and endurance into the power generating muscular structures of the body while also taxing the grip and teaching the body to absorb shock from outside forces. When performed properly, it also teaches the hip hinge, which is essential for the health of the hips and lumbar spine. There are also multiple variations of swings allowing you to avoid the monotony of the same old kettlebell swing. From the knees to shoulders and everything in between, the kettlebell swing will get your muscles working and your lungs screaming.
The final exercise is the push up. When performed correctly, this is another total body exercise that will increase upper body and core strength. Working to keep the glutes and abs engaged throughout the movement will keep your body working, and your low back safe. There are many variations of push ups, making them a great exercise regardless of your strength and fitness levels. If the traditional push up is too difficult now, you can perform them on an elevated surface (stair, box, etc). Since the push up is truly a total body exercise, it is also effective at improving cardiovascular health and increasing your metabolic rate.
While since starting CrossFit, I prefer to join a group for exercise, hopefully this list can get you started to see the benefits of resistance exercise if your time, or your funds for a gym membership are limited. If you’re primarily a “runner”, try adding these exercises to your routine and you’ll see carryover to you’re running as well.