Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
When I have older clients ask me to focus on lower body training, I typically have two goals: start conservatively to avoid the risk of injury, especially if they’re new to training, but also to help them achieve maximum gains. One excellent exercise to start with to do just that is the kettlebell deadlift. Using the kettlebell instead of the more common barbell version of the exercise is valuable because the unique design of the bell mimics how you would naturally pick up a heavy object in everyday life.
To set up, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a kettlebell between them. Your shins should be just about even with the weight on the ground. Squeeze your core, then push your butt back, hinge at the hips, and slightly bend your knees to reach down and grab the handle of the weight with an overhand grip. Turn the pits of your elbow forward to engage your lats, then squeeze your glutes to drop your hips into a tension-filled ready position.
Stand up with the kettlebell as forcefully as you can by straightening your legs and squeezing your glutes and core. Hold at the top for a moment, then slowly lower back down to the floor. That’s one rep.
The beauty of the kettlebell deadlift is that it is a more natural form of lifting a heavy object off the floor. The weight is between your legs with your arms hanging naturally between them. When you use a barbell, your hands are locked into a fixed position and the weight is further away from your body. Using dumbbells allows your hands to have more freedom of movement, but they’re still typically on the outside of your body.
Another great benefit of the kettlebell deadlift is that you’re likely working with lighter weights, which helps beginners to stay within the scope of their strength. Risk of injury is lower while still reaping the benefits of the movement pattern.
The kettlebell deadlift is all about all about safety and efficiency as it prepares you for more complex moves in the gym. To start, try 4 sets of 10 reps.
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