I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t born with a kettlebell in hand. I had to learn how to use them like everyone else – and it was a challenge.
When I first began to practice the windmill exercise, I struggled. Today, it is one of my favorite go-to exercises. Simple, but comprehensive, this beautiful full body movement is one of the best core exercises available.
As Pavel Tsatsoline, founder of Strong First, eloquently puts it, “the windmill should be a simultaneous hip hinging and spine rotation.”
Here are just a few of the amazing benefits that you can experience from performing the kettlebell windmill:
Increases Range of Motion in Hamstrings
With the way the exercise is designed, bending from the hips until your fingers touch the floor, you are not only stretching your hip (specifically piriformis and hip rotators), but also your hamstrings. The stretch is then furthered by the fact that the exercise focuses on one leg at a time, which prevents compensation between the two, and ultimately increases hamstring mobility in each individual leg.
Once reaching the floor with your hand, this movement then requires the activation of the glutes and hamstrings to get back up into the standing position with the bell overhead. In order to do so, you must drive your foot into the floor, and fire your hamstrings and glutes. Why is this important? The activation of your glutes can reduce back pain that is oftentimes caused by improper function of the glutes and short/tight hamstrings.
Strengthens Shoulder/Scapular Stability
One of my favorite components of the kettlebell windmill exercise is the strengthening of the shoulder and scapular stability. With the kettlebell held overhead, you must employ the shoulder joint stabilizers. Consequently, this movement teaches you how to pack your shoulder into its proper position, and hold this position while in movement. With increased strength in your shoulder and scapular stability, you decrease your risk of shoulder injuries.
Builds Core Strength
The kettlebell windmill is by far one of the best core exercises available to us. This exercise is a dynamic stabilization exercise. While the basic function of our core is to protect our spine and back through bracing core muscles, when you perform the windmill you are in motion, your hips are moving while your shoulders are stabilizing, which therefore causes your core to work even harder to control your body’s movement.
Check out our video below to see this exercise in action!
If you’re interested in learning more kettlebell training, request a free consultation or call us at (805) 680-9506.