image of mirafit model using mirafit kettlebell to do a clean and press midway position

You might have heard the term 'functional fitness' before and perhaps thought of it as a meaningless phrase.

The thing is, functional training is really important and extremely beneficial.

If you think about when you train, most of your exercises are centred around traditional movements such as squats, bench presses and deadlifts – all ideal for building strength as well as muscle tissue.

But these patterns of movements are rarely imitated outside the gym. Which means that, even though they are great for building muscle, they don't necessarily help you with daily life.

Most of us, when we're training, isolate specific muscles. This is great for sculpting and building the body that we're looking for. However, all this hard work targeting specific muscles doesn't always translate into real world strength and fitness.

Functional training looks at patterns of movement rather than trying to isolate and build certain muscles.

So, for example, instead of working on your pecs or your triceps, you would focus on things like pushing, pulling, jumping, lifting and walking - movements that involve your whole body.

By doing this, you're not just working one, two or even three muscles at the same time – you're working your whole body. You're training your brain, nervous system and your muscles to perform real life movements.

This in turn also helps you target your stability too. So, already you're focusing all the different muscles all in very different, but relevant ways while you train.

And this in turn, helps you with your endurance, cardio and overall performance. Functional training helps you improve your power, mobility and explosivity. And in general, helps you with real life activities as well as injury prevention.

You can also find that it improves your work in the gym because you're targeting areas in the body that you're not used to working.

 

Why use kettlebells?

Kettlebells came to light in the 1700s when they were used to measure grains and goods in Russia. It was then that people started to swing them around and use them as a way to show off their strength.

Although they're not the only way to build functional fitness, kettlebells are widely used today as a way to embellish your strength training. Allowing you to inject a heavy dose of power and explosivity into your workouts. They also help you to build grip strength and massively improving your endurance.

True fitness and strength isn't about just being able to up your one rep max. It involves conditioning, grit and hard work.

 

Best kettlebell exercises

Kettlebells are one of the best ways to build strength-endurance. They also help to torch fat and give you a workout that will really push you to your limits.

And if you're looking for an insane workout or something to beef out your bootcamp, look no further.

 

1) Kettlebell swings

image of mirafit model doing one arm kettlebell swing

How to do it: 

  • Start with the kettlebell on the floor in-between your feet or slightly behind them. 
  • Squat down with a straight spine and grab hold of your kettlebell. 
  • While keeping your arms straight, use your hips to push the weight forward. 
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top and then let the weight fall back down through your legs and repeat.

Why it's so good for you: This movement is great for your hip flexors – an area which is rarely strengthened but something we use all the time in walking, running and going up stairs. It's also a place that can get very tight through weakness. So, giving this part of your body some attention is really beneficial in terms of functionality.

 

2) Farmers walk

image of mirafit model doing farmers walk with kettlebells

How to do it: 

  • Place each kettlebell either side of your feet. 
  • With a straight back and a soft bend in your knees, lift the kettlebells up and stand up tall with your arms down by your side and your shoulders down and back. 
  • Walk taking quick, short steps. 
  • Move for a given distance and repeat, placing the weight down at set intervals.

Why it's so good for you: Another fantastic way of strengthening your whole body while performing a functional, every day activity. Farmers carries are brilliant for torching fat and building up your strength-endurance, as well as your grip strength. They can also come in really useful if you do a labour-intensive job – or simply for carrying home your shopping!

 

3) Clean and press

image of mirafit model doing clean and press with a mirafit kettlebell

How to do it:

  • Start with your feet at hip-width distance apart with the kettlebell in-between. 
  • With a straight back, squat down, pick the weight up and bring your arm up to underneath your chin. 
  • Press the kettlebell upwards with a straight arm above your head. 
  • Then bring back down to under your chin, and then lower back down to your starting position. 
  • Swap sides and repeat.

Why it's so good for you: So many of us suffer from shoulder issues and a lot of the time it's through poor posture, weakness and niggling injuries. Overhead presses are great for preventing injuries as well as rehabilitating old ones. And by incorporating the initial clean, you can isolate each side to avoid one arm carrying the other. You also get to target your core and posterior chain at the same time.

 

4) Turkish get up

image of mirafit model doign a turkish get up with a kettlebell

How to do it:

  • Lie down with your right arm bent up to your shoulder while holding the kettlebell. 
  • Lift your right knee up while keeping your left leg straight. 
  • Place your left arm out to the side at around a 45-degree angle to your body. 
  • Raise your right arm straight up at a 90-degree angle to your body. Sit up, and then lift your body up so that the only parts of you that are touching the floor are your feet and your left hand. Bring your left leg back and onto your knee.
  • You can then straighten your body so you're in a lunge position and then come to a standing position with your right arm lifting the weight straight up above your head. 
  • Follow these same steps but in reverse so you return to your start position and then repeat on both sides.

Why it's so good for you: getting up off the floor without relying on your arms is actually a lot harder than you might think. These exercises are great for functional fitness and because they're so relevant - getting up after lying down or getting out of bed as well as back, shoulder and hip strength – they will stand you in great stead for the future.

 

5) Bear crawl with kettlebells

image of mirafit model doing a bear crawl with a kettlebell

How to do it:

  • Start off on your hands and feet (not your knees). The kettlebell should be placed in-between your hands. 
  • Bear crawl forward until the kettle bell is in-between your feet. 
  • Using the arm that's farthest back, grab the kettlebell and pull it forward until it's in front of you as far as your arm will stretch. 
  • Repeat and alternate your pulling arm.

Why it's so good for you: Bear crawls are not only great for helping you to build up strength but they can be quite cardio intensive too as they require you to use pretty much all of the muscles in your body. Adding in the kettlebell is a great bootcamp exercise as it truly as grueling and it is great for your back, arms and core.

 

What kettlebell weight should I use?

Building up your strength-endurance is about pushing yourself but it's not about one-rep max. So, rather than choosing a weight that's the heaviest that you can lift.

Choose something that's a bit lower so that you're able to use it for a more considerable amount of time. You should be building up a sweat and really feeling the burn after around a minute of using your chosen kettlebell. And of course, as you get stronger, you will be able to progress to a higher weight load.

Find inspiration for your bootcamp workouts as well as your home gym on Instagram and Facebook @MirafitOfficial.

Check out our full range of Mirafit Cast Iron Kettlebells here.