Many people are asking are Kettlebells good for posture? If that’s you, you will be pleased to learn that Kettlebells are an excellent tool to help restore good posture.
In this article we look at the causes of bad posture, how kettlebells can help you fight bad posture as well as some posture hacks to accelerate your journey to perfect posture.
What is one thing that bodybuilders and ballet dancers have in common? Great posture. Both have very strong back and core muscles that keep them standing tall.
Kettlebells can give you that. They are experiencing a bit of a renaissance lately, and for a good reason. Every kettlebell exercise challenges multiple muscles or muscle groups – particularly in respect of the posterior chain, making each workout an opportunity to improve your posture.
This means that in a couple of simple movements, you can work all those muscles that help keep your back and shoulders straight. No going to the gym at the crack of dawn. No complicated poses or hanging from the ceiling. No spending hours working on static stretching.
So, today, we’re going to take a deep dive into bad posture, bust a few myths, learn how kettlebells work their magic, and cover a few useful hacks.
Causes of Bad Posture
Didn’t your parents tell you not to slouch, or you’ll end up with bad posture?
Well, they were right. While slouching, all the muscles that pull our shoulders back and support our spine are not engaged. And when they habitually aren’t made to engage, then what you’ll find is that over a period of time, they weaken, atrophy and simply can’t do their job anymore.
Pair that with the general sedentary habits of modern living, and you’ll end up with a hunched back and a tilted pelvis in no time at all!
Let’s not forget about the core muscles, either. A strong core supports your spine, and when it loses that support, it will affect your posture and lead to a lot of back pain.
Just keeping your back straight can prevent all of this from happening. However, we slouch at our school desks, continue slouching when watching TV, and then the same when we are working in an office. Years of bad posture can’t be erased by straightening up a little. We will have to rebuild all those weakened muscles.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you will have to live in the gym. A smart routine that can stimulate those weakened muscles will do great. Ideally, it has to be something you can do at home and easily add into your routine. Consistency is key, and working only 10 minutes a day may show astonishing results if you stick with it consistently over a couple of months.
But, before we get to that, let’s check out some myths and facts.
Stretching Is Not Enough
If you were to look online, you will find a lot of stretches that are supposed to improve your posture and/eliminate the neck hump. But, it’s not enough. Stretching is great for working through tension, but it will not do much to rebuild those muscles that we need.
However, stretching is useful in correcting the pelvic tilt and realigning the pelvic floor. Do that and build strong core and back muscles, and you’ll have a perfect posture.
If you want to learn more about stretching for great posture, check out my reviews of these two great programs:
==> Hyperbolic Stretching (includes photos of my 30 day results!)
The Corrector Problem
From time to time, these faddy products seem to be all the rage. Posture correctors are elastic support bands or vests that you squeeze yourself into so that they help you keep good posture.
So far, so good, right? Well, not really.
They are doing all the heavy lifting, and you are not.
To get results it’s crucial that our muscles do the work so that they are capable of supporting your spine and keeping you upright throughout the day and in all situations. Having a corrector is almost like trying to lift weight in zero gravity. You’re still using some muscles, but you’re not getting the full benefits of the workout.
With all that said, they can be useful, though if you think of them as a crutch in the beginning stages of your posture correction.
If you’re interested in using a posture corrector, I’d recommend spending a few more pennies than the average support vest costs and go for the Upright Go 2 Posture Trainer.
This device senses when you slouch and alerts you to straighten up!
This is far more effective than attempting to maintain good posture by the use of a posture corrector as it’s your own muscles that are engaging and bringing you back into good posture every time the system prompts you.
Do Kettlebells Improve Posture?
Yes. Kettlebells work and build your muscles – a vital component for improving posture. But it doesn’t end there. All kettlebell exercises work (or at least engage) your core and upper body. Core muscles are key to fixing your posture.
Unlike many other weight based exercises, kettlebell workouts are generally exclusively compound exercises which often work across a wider range of motion than conventional weightlifting exercises.
This means that you engage your full body, including those deep core muscles which help to support your posture. It also means that you may get better results quicker than other methods of posture improvement.
The Best Kettlebell Exercises For Posture
1. Classic Kettlebell Swings
This works the butt, legs, lower back. Add the core engagement and you’re building great strength into your lower back.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and grip the top of the kettlebell with both hands.
- Bend the knees slightly and hinge the hips backward. Swing the kettlebell between your legs.
- Thrust with the hips to stand back up and use the momentum to swing the kettlebell back to chest height.
2. Hand-to-Hand Swings
Upgrade the regular swing with a bit more work through the sides and back. You may need to use a lighter weight since you’re using only one arm.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and grip the top of the kettlebell with one hand.
- Bend the knees slightly and hinge the hips. Swing the kettlebell between your legs.
- Thrust from the hips to stand back up and swing the kettlebell back to chest height. At the top of the swing, pick up the kettlebell with the other hand.
- Continue the swings, alternating sides.
This works shoulders, chest, and core. Make sure that your core is tight and your torso is not moving to get the maximum benefits.
- Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
- Grip the kettlebell by the horns. Hold it ball up at chest height.
- Lift to eye level then slowly circle your head. When the kettlebell is behind your head, it should be horns up. Bring back to the front.
- Repeat the exercise, alternating directions.
4. Side Lunges
Working your glutes helps correct the pelvic tilt. Plus, since it’s a kettlebell exercise, we are working the core as well.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Grip the kettlebell by the horns. Hold it ball down at chest sight.
- Step out with one leg to the side and lunge. Come back up in the first position without moving your upper body or the kettlebell.
- Repeat the exercise, alternating sides.
5. The Slingshot
This exercise will improve rounded shoulders and force than back down. It takes a little bit of concentration but is beginner-friendly if you start with a light kettlebell. So give it a go!
- Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and grip the kettlebell with one hand.
- Pass the kettlebell behind your back to the other arm, making sure to keep the shoulders down.
- Pass the kettlebell back to the starting hand in front of your body.
- Repeat the exercise, alternating hands.
6. Regular Row
A great exercise for the back, arms, and chest. Remember to keep your core engaged as well.
- Start in a high lunge, with one leg a few feet inf front of the other.
- Hinge the hips while keeping the back flat.
- Grip the kettlebell’s handle with one hand with the arm handing straight at your side. Rest the other arm on the bent knee.
- Lift the kettlebell to the rib cage, using both arm and back to pull. Pause then slowly bring back down.
- Repeat the exercise, alternating arms.
7. Farmer’s Carry
The Farmers Carry (or Farmer’s Walk) demands good posture if it is going to be executed correctly. It works the shoulders, grip, forearms, traps, obliques, glutes, quads and calves all at the same time.
- Grip the kettlebell’s handle with one hand. Hold at the side of the body, keeping the shoulders down.
- Walk for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch hands.
- Feel free to upgrade this exercise by carrying a kettlebell in each hand.
8. The Windmill
This is the most challenging exercise on this list but it’s worth spending time practicing and perfecting it. It will work the back, shoulders, and obliques, as well as the muscles of the hamstrings, quads and the adducters. Take it slow and have full control on your way down. If you are not quite there yet, stop when you feel like you have to bend the knees to complete the exercise.
- Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and grip the kettlebell with one hand.
- Raise the hand with the kettlebell above your head, making sure to keep the shoulder down.
- Slowly bend at the waist so the back of the free hand touches the inside of the ankle (ie right hand, right ankle). Make sure to keep the arm with the kettlebell perpendicular to the floor.
- Come back up and repeat the exercise.
Avoid common kettlebell training mistakes
Mistake 1 – You Didn’t Consult Your Doctor
Not only when using kettlebells, but working out, full stop. Before you start a new exercise regime, be sure to consult your doctor.
Get it done. No excuses.
Mistake 2 – Using The Wrong Kettlebell
The bigger the weight the faster the results, right? Wrong.
Best case scenario: you get so sore that you end up out of the game for weeks.
Worst case: You injure yourself so severely that you’re unable to lift for months!
So start light and perfect the exercises above before advancing to a heavier kettlebell.
Mistake 3 – Squatting Instead of Doing a Hip Hinge
Fix this one before you add a kettlebell and start swinging. Everything below the knee is perpendicular to the floor, and there’s no movement in the ankles. The hips are hinged back and drive all the motion.
Mistake 4 – Not Opening Your Shoulders
This is possibly the easiest way to earn yourself an injury. Before you start swinging your kettlebell warm your shoulders up with this mobility drill:
Mistake 5 – Arching your lower back
If your lower back is arched, your core is not activated. Take a quick check and draw your navel toward your spine. This should correct it.
However, don’t suck in your stomach too much. Instead, take a quick breath in through your nose, focus on the engagement in your core and keep that tension.
Mistake 6 – Swinging too high
This could be happening either because you are giving in to the momentum or because the kettlebell is too light. When swinging, the arms should be parallel to the floor – and when they reach that point, consciously work against the momentum.
Mistake 7 – Leaning back too much
This is mostly an issue when someone is trying too hard to activate their glutes more during the kettlebell swing. This is counter-effective as it will actually encourage momentum to take-over and reduce overall engagement. It can also compromise your lower back, so be sure to perfect the form of the kettlebell swing.
This could also happen if you have tight hip flexors. To help solve this problem, make sure you warm up and stretch the area well before the workout.
Mistake 8 – Hitting the forearm
It’s probably your grip. Keep it a little more relaxed but not loose. Handling kettlebell’s properly without smashing your forearms takes some practice.
This tutorial provides a solid grounding in the kettlebell clean, a key movement, which once mastered, will set you up for handling your kettlebells across most exercises.
Quick fixes and “hacks”
There is a lot of work ahead of you, and it will take time to see results. So here are a few things you can do to assist you on your quest fix your posture, aside from your main kettlebell work.
Do you even know what a good posture is supposed to feel and look like? Here’s an easy way to get there in a second.
Raise your arms above your head and align them with your ears. Now, quickly drop the arms down without moving the shoulders, neck, and back. See that? Feet that? Now you got it.
Use this little trick to correct yourself any time you need – before workouts, when you’re working, before having your photo taken… whenever you want to straighten up.
The toe tilt
This one comes from my wife. Ladies, you’ll love it. Gents, try it as well if you have the stones.
You may be able to keep your shoulders back, but there is something else that is destroying your posture when you’re walking. It’s the dreaded pelvis tilt. While you’re working on that with some lovely kettlebell swings, here’s how to fake it until you make it.
Tilt your toes inward a bit. All it takes is a fraction of an inch. That tiny change in the foot position forces your pelvis to correct itself when you’re walking. The effect goes even further than that since your core fires up as well. Just drop your shoulders back, and you’re walking like a supermodel.
A sedentary lifestyle is killing your posture and worse. If you are working at a desk, it may be a good idea to get up and move every hour.
Since we’re talking kettlebells here, why not keep one by your desk and try one of the whole-body exercises? Regular or hand-to-hand kettlebell swings would be perfect.
Sit on the edge of the chair
Don’t lean back in your chair at the office. Instead, sit on the edge of your seat and consciously engage your core to keep your shoulders back and your spine straight. Try raising your monitor too so that your head isn’t being coaxed downwards, which will contribute to forward-head posture.
Self-massage through movement
The following three exercises work through the whole back and are great for both releasing tension and warming up before a workout. They also activate all the secondary muscles that other movements may miss.
For the first, point your arms towards the front at shoulder height. Palms down and push your shoulders back. Now draw a backward circle using your shoulders, making sure shoulders stay back. Do this exercise for 30 seconds to a minute.
The second one is very easy as well. Put your hands together and interlock the fingers. Raise your arms 3 to 4 inches above your head. Start drawing circles around your head. Adjust the size of the circle until it hits the part of the back where you feel the tension. Repeat in the other direction. Do the exercise about 30 seconds per direction, or however long you need it.
Finally, finish with some penguin arms. Pull your shoulders back. Raise your arms above your head and have the palms facing each other. Turn the palms out and slowly bring the arms down. Repeat the exercise for 30 seconds to a minute.
How long will it take to see results when using kettlebells for posture?
This depends on how bad your posture is and how long it has been that way. You could see a massive change in as little as 2 to 3 months, or it could take you half a year or more.
I suffer from back pain. Can I do these exercises?
First, why do you have back pain? If it’s because of an injury, the doctor needs to give you a green light first.
If the pain comes from bad posture and a sedentary lifestyle, working out will help with that. However, you may want to consider following this excellent, accessible mobility and flexibility program for 14 days before starting your kettlebell workouts:
This program would be ideal for beginners or those suffering with back pain.
I have a shoulder injury. Are these exercises for me?
No, unless your doctor says it’s okay. Always, always. always consult your doctor before getting into a new workout routine.
Will kettlebell exercises help with a neck hump?
Yes, but not directly. A neck hump is a protective layer of fat that forms around the top of the spine when you slouch forward. While you’re using kettlebells to work on your posture muscles, it should correct itself slowly over time.
How do I maintain my posture muscles after I reach my goals?
Don’t slouch and continue to work out. If you regularly switch up the number of sets and reps, and the weight of the kettlebells (aka shock the muscle), you can do the same exercises for the rest of your life.
Remember that posture is like a muscle in that just as you need to continue working out to keep those bulging biceps, you need to continue to practice good posture drills such as these kettlebell exercises to maintain your posture improvements.
Kettlebells Are Great For Posture
When kettlebells are used correctly with proper form on each exercise, you can be certain that they are a great tool for improving your posture.
In this article we’ve taken a really deep dive into the best kettlebell exercises for posture, common mistakes you could be at risk of making as well as quick fixes that can help accelerate your posture improvements.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve experienced good posture improvements from following a kettlebell workout regime.