Keep it simple. Start off with basic KB exercises like the Swing and the Goblet Squat. Affter you get these down, then you can progress to the clean, snatch etc. The KB windmill is great for hip, hamstring and shoulder mobility.
Technique is more important than anything especially at the beginning so that you don't pick up bad habits.
I like Mike Salemi for technique, you can google his name in YouTube, he also has a bunch of videos on the Mind Pump TV channel.
I taught Kettlebell pre-covid. The KB swing is definitely a great exercise for your entire body and cardiovascular system at the same time.
Start off with sets of 10, then gradually work your way up. You can also do a ladder, pyradmids etc.
I used to do 300 swings a day, I like to do them in sets of 25.
I did my first real workout with the kettlebells today. I did the following:
1 mile run
5x 50yard farmer carries w/35lb kettlebells in each hand.
4 x15 goblet squats holding a 35lb kettlebell
4 x15 kettlebell swings with a 35lb kettlebell.
I also did some battle ropes stuff but I really focused on good technique with the kettlebells. I think my main confusion is when to engage my abs on the swings. For example, when I pop my hips to swing the kettlebell out, my abs want to extend. Do I train myself to flex and engage them when the swing is headed up, or when it’s headed down? It seems from the breathing (exhale as you pop the hips), that they should be flexed when the weight is up. Is this correct?
im sure this is a crazy question, but since Inhad all the open abdominal operations, my core has not been engaged in anything at all. I’ve taught myself to lift without core engagement for fear of popping more hernias. Now, after several years of lifting abs running without incident, the surgeons say is time to start to rehabilitate the rictus abdominals and try to close the gap caused by diastasis recti. I’d love to work to the point where I have a solid core again. Maybe then I could get back on a mat. That’s unlikely, but you have to have goals, right? I’m sure if I get these exercises right and focus on them for a couple of years I’ll be way better off. Hopefully also lose considerable weight in that time as well.
That's great stuff, really. I like the unilateral farmers carries as well, I have them do this in all the time. Walking around the gym doing farmers, rack position and snatch position.
Great question about core engagement while doing swings. I was the one that did not recommend swings as your first exercise given your hernia situation but I probably should have been more specific to say heavy swings right off the bat especially without proper technique. So once you have the KB deadlift (Romanian down, this should allow you to perform a proper hip hinge without arching or rounding the back. You said that you're a big guy so doing swings with 35lbs should be alright, I like that you start off relatively easy with reps of 15 and not overdoing it.
Now for when to brace your core, for me this should come naturally once you get your breathing down correctly. There are different methods of breathing but the most standard method is to do spurts of exhalations as the kettlebell is going up and inhaling on the way down. You're not doing full exhale though you should stop an exhale right before your body perefectly verticle. The exhale should sound somewhat similar to when boxers throw a punch, so it's not a full exhale but you stop your breathe right before the peak.
Now this step here is important if you want to engage your core properly. I want you to focus on 3 parts for when your body is perfectly in a straight verticle line; quads, glutes and trunk (abdominals all around). Most people do a lazy swing, this is good for sport or for reps but if you really want a truly effective swing, focus on tightening the quads, the glutes and abdominals at the peak. Practice will allow you to stop the exhalation right at the peak of the swing or a millisecond before. Contract your quads, glutes and abs. By bracing these 3 muscle groups, it will protect your lower back as well in a big way.
Hope this makes sense.