November 30, 2021

These 8 Kettlebell Exercises Will Improve Your Strength, Power, and Pedal Stroke

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Kettlebells: When you hear the word, it’s almost synonymous with “swing.” But there’s so much more to this piece of equipment.
“Kettlebells offer a ton of versatility in a compact package,” says Kurt Ellis, C.P.T,. C.S.C.S., P.E.S, owner of Beyond Numbers Performance in New York City. “Whether your goal is to improve strength, aerobic capacity, or even athletic development, kettlebells allow you to work on multiple fitness qualities.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the swing should be discounted altogether. It’s a simple movement, sure, but an effective one, helping you build power and explosiveness through the posterior chain (the muscles that run from the back of your shoulders all the way down to your heels).
That’s why you’ll still find a swing in this kettlebell workout Ellis designed. But it’s only one exercise in a routine that’s been specifically sequenced to improve your overall cycling performance, be it better posture in the saddle or a more powerful pedal stroke. Ellis recommends incorporating it into your strength training routine 2 to 3 times per week.
How to do this workout: Perform the circuits sequentially, following the prescribed number of reps and rest periods for each circuit. You’ll need light, medium, and heavy-weight kettlebells.
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Warmup1. Goblet March

Great for: Strengthening hip flexors and single-leg stabilizer muscles; improving hip extension to improve pedal stroke efficiency
How to do it: Using a medium or heavy kettlebell, start by cleaning the kettlebell into a goblet position (both hands on the handle with handle facing up, kettlebell out in front of chest). Lift one leg off the ground to form a 90-degree angle at the hip. Lower leg back to start and repeat on other side. Continue switching legs for 20 to 45 seconds. Complete 2 to 4 sets.
Power CircuitRest up to 2 minutes between sets and 1 minute between exercises. Once you’ve completed all sets of this circuit, rest up to 2 minutes before moving onto the strength circuit.
1. Kettlebell Clean

Great for: Building total body power, and improving coordination between upper and lower body to improve pedal stroke efficiency
How to do it: Align a medium or heavy kettlebell on the floor in between your feet (it can rest anywhere between the middle of your ankle and foot). Hinge at your hips and grab the kettlebell handle with two hands, palms facing down. This is your start position.
“Clean” the kettlebell by aggressively lifting it off the ground using your legs and shrugging to pull the kettlebell upward into a goblet squat position (arms bent at 90 degrees, both hands on the handle with handle facing up, palms facing each other, kettlebell at chest height). Pause before returning the kettlebell back to start position. Perform 3 to 7 reps (go for fewer reps if your kettlebell is heavier). Complete 2 to 4 sets.
2. Kettlebell Swing

Great for: Building power and explosiveness through the posterior chain to improve pedal stroke power and efficiency
How to do it: Align a light or medium kettlebell on the floor in between your feet, about an arm’s length away. Hinge at your hips and grab the kettlebell handle with two hands, palms facing down, then stand back up. This is your start position.
Start the swing by hiking the bell between the legs. Squeeze your glutes and aggressively push your hips forward to allow the kettlebell to pass back through the legs and up to a floating position in front of the body at chest level, with both arms fully extended. Let gravity bring the bell back down in-between your legs as you inhale and repeat. Perform 5 to 10 swings (go for fewer reps if your kettlebell is heavier). Complete 2 to 4 sets.
Strength CircuitRest up to 1 minute between sets and up to 30 seconds between exercises. Once you’ve completed the entire circuit, break for 1 minute before moving onto the final conditioning circuit.
1. Kettlebell Deadlift

Great for: Strengthening glutes and hamstrings for a more powerful pedal stroke
How to do it: Align a medium or heavy kettlebell on the floor in between your feet (it can rest anywhere between the middle of your ankle and foot). Hinge at your hips and grab the kettlebell handle with two hands, palms facing down. This is your start position.
Keeping core engaged, spine neutral, and weight in your heels, drive your hips forward and squeeze your glutes, lifting the kettlebell to stand. Hing at your hips and slowly lower back to start. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps. Complete 2 to 4 sets.
2. Kettlebell Tempo Goblet Squat

Great for: Strengthening the lower body and upper back to improve posture in saddle and pedal stroke power
How to do it: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in the knees. Using a medium or heavy kettlebell, clean the kettlebell into a goblet position (both hands on the handle palms facing down, with kettlebell at chest). This is your start position.
Slowly lower into a squat (take 3 to 5 seconds to do so), supporting the weight so it stays above your chest line (don’t let the weight or your chest drift forward). Pause for 3 to 5 seconds at the bottom of the squat, then drive through your heels and lift your chest to quickly return to start. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps. Complete 2 to 4 sets.
3. Kettlebell Knee-Supported Row

Great for: Strengthening the mid and upper back to improve posture and decrease back pain on rides
How to do it: Start in a split-stance position: right leg in front, knee bent at 90 degrees; left leg extended back with a slight bend at the knee. Rest your right forearm on your front (right) leg. Place a medium-weight kettlebell on the ground to the left of your front (right) foot. Keeping your core tight and spine neutral, grab the kettlebell handle with the left hand, palm facing down, and pull the kettlebell up toward your bottom rib on your left side. With control, return to hanging start position. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps. Complete 2 to 4 sets.
Conditioning Circuit Rest up to 40 seconds between sets and up to 20 seconds between exercises.
1. Kettlebell Clean Alternating Reverse Lunge

Great for: Building power and single-length strength for sprints and improved pedal stroke efficiency
How to do it: Using a medium or heavy kettlebell, start by cleaning the kettlebell into a goblet position (both hands on the handle, with kettlebell at chest). Step one foot back into a reverse lunge position, keeping both legs flexed at 90 degrees at the hip, knee, and ankle. Keeping your core engaged, drive through your heel to return to start. Switch legs. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps on each side. Complete 2 to 4 sets.
2. Alternating Split-Stance Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing

Great for: Building single-leg strength and coordination to improve pedal stroke power
How to do it: Start in a staggered stance position, left foot slightly behind the right, knees slightly bent. With a medium or heavy kettlebell in your left hand, hike the kettlebell between your legs, then quickly drive through your right hip to allow the kettlebell to pass back through the legs and up to a floating position in front of your chest. When the bell is at the apex (about shoulder height), transition it to your right hand and switch your stance, so your right foot is slightly behind the left. Repeat for 5 to 10 swings per side. Complete 2 to 4 sets.
Note: This is an optional advanced movement for those comfortable with kettlebell workouts.

Samantha Lefave
Freelance Writer
Samantha Lefave is an experienced writer and editor covering fitness, health, and travel.

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