Combining Kettlebells With Running (Here’s 3 Reasons Why)
Are you a runner and thought about how kettlebells could help you improve your performance?
Maybe you use kettlebells and have considered stretching your legs and incorporating running to your workouts?
I have been doing both for quite some time, so decided to share my thoughts on the subject.
How often should you train and what exercises should you do?
The answers to these and more are coming right up.
Combining Kettlebells With Running
Combining kettlebells with running is a great way to improve your performance and prevent injury. They are a time efficient, appropriate and elective way of increasing your output and endurance. Combining the two can increase Stabilisation – stronger joint stability and so less injury potential, your Mobility – increase your ability to move through a greater range, Speed and Power – fast ballistic movements increase force production, Cardiovascular output (aerobic and anaerobic) improve heart and lungs without high impact cardio, Muscle Size and Strength – generate a different training stimulus, Reduce Overuse Injuries – take your body through different movement patterns, Fun and Motivational – to move away from the same old exercises and Natural Movement Patterns – that work together with your body.
1. Target Specific Exercises
If you are a runner looking to improve your output it is worth targeting specific exercises that will help you get the most out of kettlebell training.
Some kettlebell exercises which work well to promote mobility and increase movement include:
Swings – work your shoulders, back, core, glutes and quads, hamstrings & calves.
Clean & Press – triceps, biceps, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, upper chest (Clavicular Head), deltoids, rhomboid and abdominals.
Snatches – traps, shoulders, triceps, quads, glutes, hamstrings & abs.
Squats – glutes, hamstrings, core & quads.
Kettlebell training is an effective, appropriate, and time-efficient way for runners to prevent injury and improve performance.
Running causes massive impact on the body each time the foot strikes the ground and long-distance running especially, can wear down the muscles and joints over hundreds of miles.
Strength training can help prepare the body to resist typical overuse injuries from running, which are often the result of tight and/or weak hip, gluteal and core muscles.
Even if injury is not a concern, strength training can lead to increased speed and power, as well as increased muscular endurance.
Kettlebell training specifically targets the hamstrings, glutes, back, and core all at once – areas that are notorious for causing injury in runners if they are not strengthened.
Knowing this now, it sounds like kettlebells and running are a great combination.
2. Volume Of Training – Knowing Whats Right For You
This is where a lot of different variables of training come into play.
Some of questions might include – knowing when to train with kettlebells, what days train and for how long?
This all depends on where you are at with your training and fitness levels, but there is a lot of different ways to incorporate kettlebells into your schedule.
Some people enjoy doing kettlebells swings only for 10 minutes daily, as you know the kettlebell swing is a great all round exercise that works multiple muscle groups at once.
This is a good exercise for runners to do as it targets all the muscles of the lower torso and more!
Others prefer to train with kettlebells three times a week, this could be on the days you aren’t running or it could be done on the same days you run.
This again depends on your current fitness levels and training program.
I personally do three days of each per week. It works well, but I am always conscious of fatigue kicking in depending on my training intensity and current conditioning, so just give it a try and see how you feel, then adjust the volume or weight accordingly to suit you (more on this shortly).
Keep a workout journal and log your times workload and overall feeling. Watch for results you want and results that you don’t.
Also remember that kettlebell movements work and feel different to dumbbells.
Another thing I have done and you can try also is combine the two on same days you train.
Doing between 10-20 minutes of kettlebell exercises before you run could work for you, alternatively try doing kettlebell exercises after you go for your run!
This is all down to you, as theres no set way of doing things and you may have to experiment with what works better for you and your training schedule.
3. Kettlebell Weight And Recovery
Picking the right weight before you get started is crucial as people who aren’t familiar with kettlebells can get it wrong, you need to know how to pick the right weight for you.
This is just an average, which means, you may start with a lower weight and then progress to the next size up over time. As with any other workout routine, if any of the exercises feel uncomfortable or cause pain, stop doing them and consult an expert and consider reducing the weight you are using.
No kettlebell routine is light work and the important thing to do is always listen to your body in relation to how it’s feeling before, during and after a workout. If you have the urge to continue after working out, generally speaking this is a sign your body can handle more exercise.
Once you start lacking motivation and are finding workouts a chore, maybe consider this a sign you’re doing too much and dial your training back a little.
With all exercise, rest and recovery is vital and very important to any aspiring athlete.
Recovery after training is crucial and should be implemented on a regular basis. Some of the things that can help in your recovery include: foam roller, sports massage, massage guns, massage balls and other massage equipment.
Everyone recovers from exercise differently depending on varying factors such as their age, experience, diet, genetics and so on.
When starting any new training method start off gradually and take an extra days rest if needed, especially when you first introduce kettlebell training.
Three things to consider…
1. Ease yourself into your new routine. Listen to your body, within a few weeks you should be able to run three times a week and do KBs three times a week. Consider taking an easy day by going on a long walk here and there whenever you increase the intensity of the kettlebell routine and visa versa.
2. You will adapt and it will be fine. There will be soreness at first and might have to dial back some workouts, but the goal is to still be sore but be able to loosen up with a bit of a warm up and don’t forget to incorporate a solid rest/recovery program into the mix too as mentioned above. Find that sweet spot level of soreness that is acceptable and keep doing that and the volume/intensity that makes you that sore will come over time.
3. Pick one run and one KB workout to do on the same day. One thing to try is put the low intensity longer run right after the heavy KB workout to try and get out some of the lactic acid with some lower intensity cardio.
Be prepared to reduce kettlebell weight, take longer rest periods in between exercises and change repetitions.
Kettlebells move differently to a lot of other fitness equipment, this is due to the fact the centre of mass on the kettlebell is in the “bell” itself and not through the middle part of the equipment, such as a dumbbell.
It can take a while to get used to the movement, so consider using a lighter kettlebell to begin with when first using them.
Remember the specificity rule as well, if you want to get better at running, you’re going to have to run, kettlebells should compliment it. Always work towards a steady progression to run further and train with kettlebell longer or consider increasing the weight.
RELATED – Can Kettlebell Swings Give You Abs?
There is no doubt that combining running with kettlebells can be beneficial to runners and can increase your performance over time.
To start with I would advise that you do a small amount of kettlebell work until you get comfortable with the way they move and monitor your running as to how you feel. Remember to listen to your body with regards fatigue and lag.
Even as little as 5 minutes, just till you find your feet (no pun intended) and then you can increase the amount of time using the kettlebell, whether its reps, increase the days using kettlebell from one to two and so on, or you increasing the weight.
See how doing both on the same day after one another works out for you.
Introduce a regular recovery program and do not neglect rest days, these are very important indeed.
I have been training with kettlebells and running for some time now and it works really well for me…
Not that I’m training for anything in particular, but it’s important to maintain a certain level of fitness in my humble opinion.
Over a period of time you will be able to run further and for longer with the increase in power, endurance and strength you will get from combining running with kettlebells. You will be able to go the extra mile (literally) and have increased explosion adding kettlebells to your running regime!
If you wanted to check out any of the kettlebell workouts I have done, then please head here to check them out and also don’t forget to subscribe!
I have upper body, lower body and full body workouts of all levels for you to try.
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Till next time, all the best…
Lee – Sport CBDs