title pic why runners need kb training

Why runners need kettlebell training

Get ready to discover the perfect match for runners: kettlebell training! Like pancakes and jam, bacon, eggs, or red fruit jelly and vanilla sauce, running and kettlebells are meant to be together ๐Ÿ˜

I started running in 2006 as a means to lose weight. Mind you, I wasn’t overweight. But to my timid 21-year-old self, it seemed like it. So, I set out to run every morning before work and to stick to fruit for breakfast and salad for lunch.

You might have guessed that I couldn’t stick to my unsustainable diet regimen for more than a couple of days ๐Ÿ™ˆ. However, I could stick to running. And over the following months, my desire to lose weight turned into a passion for running and pushing my body and mind to go ever greater distances.

In the years that followed, I was often sidelined by injuries. And, like most runners, I accepted those as part of the runner’s life I was determined to live.

Back then, I didn’t know that frequent injuries don’t need to be part of my running experience.

During a longer running break in 2012, I discovered kettlebell training. Before ordering my first pair and a copy of Pavel Tsatsouline’s book “Enter The Kettlebell,” I tried going to a gym. However, my gym anxiety was still so severe that I didn’t establish a proper gym routine.

Over ten years later, I am glad I started using kettlebells. They are one of the reasons I have been running ultramarathons injury free over the past 3 years, after a 9-year running break.

Kettlebell training delivers more than traditional strength training for runners.

I believe kettlebell training is a far better choice for most runners than the traditionally recommended strength training with barbells and dumbbells. Why? For three reasons.

First, the kettlebell is a more versatile tool for strength and endurance workouts. Plus, lighter kettlebells are an excellent tool for mobility work.

Secondly, kettlebell training is more time efficient. Most runners only run because they only have time to run. Unless you are a professional athlete, you must squeeze your workout time into a full schedule of work, family commitments, and maybe some socializing with friends.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend an hour every time you want to complete a strength training workout. When using kettlebells, 10 โ€“ 20 minutes per workout is enough to get the benefits you desire.

And thirdly, because kettlebells take up little space, you can perform a simple yet highly effective workout from the comfort of your home. And since you don’t need a gym membership, you save time and money if you work out with kettlebells ๐Ÿ˜.

How kettlebell training can benefit runners.

A significant advantage of kettlebell training, compared to barbell or dumbbell training, is that the main kettlebell lifts train all the common problem areas for runners: the glutes, the hamstrings, and the core.

If you are weak in those areas, as most people are, you will be at higher risk for running-related injuries.

Many people, runners included, have weak glute muscles. Due to sitting on our butts most of the time, our glutes have become weak and passive.

Kettlebell swings are an excellent way to wake up those lazy glutes and improve your running power.

And even if you don’t suffer from frequent running injuries, kettlebell training can improve strength, power, and muscular endurance. Incorporating explosive kettlebell lifts, like the kettlebell swing or the snatch, into your training, you work your heart and lungs much more than during traditional strength training.ย 

And this, in turn, will help you to build endurance๐Ÿ’ช .

The best kettlebell exercises for runners.

As a runner with limited time to train, you can use kettlebells for pure strength and endurance work.

I prefer to focus more on strength and muscle building during my kettlebell sessions because I already get the endurance training I want through running.

With that said, I have weeks where I let my body rest from the high-impact sport that is running and significantly reduce my running volume. During these weeks, I include more cardio-focused kettlebell workouts in my training.

The best exercises for building strength are squat and press variations.

If you are a beginner, start with the kettlebell goblet squat. If you are more advanced, you can include the kettlebell front squat. To build upper body strength, the military press is your best option.

A workout that I often do is a kettlebell complex, consisting of front squats and clean and presses. I perform 5 front squats, then 5 clean and presses, and continue this pattern for a set duration.

Your best bet for endurance-focused workouts is doing kettlebell swings.

I prefer sport-style swings over hardstyle kettlebell swings for endurance workouts because the emphasis is on efficiency. You can go longer with sport-style swings and train your aerobic system better than with hardstyle kettlebell swings. The sport swing is more fluid and focuses on endurance, while the hardstyle swing is more explosive and focuses on power.

However, I won’t explain the two styles in detail here. That’s a topic for a future article. If you are new to kettlebell training, stick to one style first and become proficient in that movement. Once you have one type down, you can experiment with other techniques.

The basic kettlebell moves โ€“ the swing, press, and squat โ€“ are all you need to complement your run training.

You don’t need complicated flows or more advanced movements, like the snatch. It’s fantastic if you want to progress further and include more kettlebell movements.

However, if you are time-crunched and simply want a time-efficient strength training routine that covers the basics, rest assured that the swing, press, and squat will be all you need ๐Ÿ˜.

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