The Windmill Exercise: You Need To Try This Powerhouse Move!

What is the windmill exercise?

The windmill exercise is a challenging full-body movement done with an open stance while you bend your body sideways.

It can be done holding a kettlebell overhead, dumbbell, or done with no weight at all.

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Windmill exercise
The windmill

What’s the purpose of the windmill exercise?

When used with good form, it can help build strength in your core, and increase your shoulder mobility as well as your flexibility.

This exercise requires a good range of motion and quite a bit of strength, especially in the shoulders and back.

The windmill allows you to train your muscles to be more flexible and strong as they move in different directions, while also giving your spine a little more rotation.

What body part does the windmill exercise work?

The windmill exercise works your entire body but especially targets your shoulders, hamstrings, glutes, core, and back.

This exercise will not only work for major muscle groups, but it will also strengthen some of the smaller stabilizing muscles as well.

The Windmill Exercise: You Need To Try This Powerhouse Move!

Can anyone do the windmill exercise?

Getting guidance from your healthcare provider is always best before starting out or getting back into any workout plan, especially if you are new to exercise, have had an injury, were recently pregnant, or have dealt with illness.

If you have any established shoulder or lower back pain these advanced windmill exercises may not be right for you.

You should have good core stability, flexibility, and shoulder mobility to complete this move. As well as the capabilities of lifting and holding a weight straight overhead.

Are windmills a good exercise?

Yes, windmills are a great full body exercise. They help to increase your range of motion, improve your flexibility, and work multiple muscle groups at the same time. If windmills are done with proper form, they can be a safe and effective way to build strength.

Windmill exercise benefits

Because the kettlebell windmill exercise will build strength, you’ll find that doing more challenging tasks in your daily life will be easier, such as lifting heavier bags, suitcases, etc.

Although the kettlebell windmill exercise is not a traditional cardio workout, it will improve your strength, endurance, and your aerobic conditioning. As this exercise strengthens and stretches all at once, you see your muscles getting toned and gains will be noticed in your shoulders, abs, hams, and glutes. Balance and coordination will also improve.

The windmills exercise will prepare you for more complex exercise moves.

How do you do a windmill?

Before performing this exercise, be sure to warm up your whole body with a few stretches, or light cardio. Rope stretches would be a great way to warm up your body by increasing mobility and flexibility. Have a look at our article 10 Easy Rope Stretches That Will Make You More Flexible.

  • First, stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and keep your toes pointing forward.

  • Extend your right arm so that it is over your head with your elbow straight. Your left arm is resting on your thigh, palm facing out.

  • Place both feet at a 45-degree angle facing the same way and shift your hip out and put your body weight onto the right heel.

  • Now, turn your head to look up at your raised hand. Your left shoulder will be pointing downwards.

  • With a slight bend in your left knee, lower left arm towards the toes of your left leg down until your left hand touches the floor.

  • Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position.

  • Repeat the movement 10 times and then switch to the other side and repeat.

windmill stretch

How do you do windmills without weights?

I recommend beginners practice the bodyweight windmill which is an effective way to learn the proper technique before loading your hand with a kettlebell. That way it will ensure you get the most out of this exercise by perfecting the mechanics of it.

You’ll enjoy the lower body stretch, however, in order to enjoy the benefits of shoulder stability, you’ll need to add weight.

How to do the windmill exercise with perfect form?

You must properly engage your core muscles when attempting more complex movements, like the windmill, which requires hinging at the hips with rotation as you bend forward.

If you perform a few hip hinges before doing the windmill during your workout, this will help to warm up your lower back and prevent injury.

How do you do a kettlebell windmill?

Incorporating a kettlebell into this exercise would be classified as a more advanced movement. Kettlebell windmills will give you all the benefits of a regular windmill, but with the added benefit of increasing shoulder and body core strength.

Start kettlebell training on the weaker side of the body, using proper form. Avoid lifting too much weight until you’ve increased your shoulder strength, you don’t want to be sidelined with an injury.

The Kettlebell windmill is a wonderful kettlebell exercise that targets the shoulders, builds core strength, and improves overall joint mobility.

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  2. Grip the kettlebell with your right hand and extend the right arm straight overhead. Your palm will face forward.

  3. Extend the left arm down in front of your left thigh with the palm facing forward. In this position, your arms will create a vertical line that might look like two vanes of a windmill.

  4. Hinge at the hips to lower the upper body down and to the left side. Your left palm will stay facing forward as it slides down the front of your left leg toward your foot. Keep the right arm steady and fully extended overhead. You’ll feel your hamstrings and glutes stretch while you lower your body down. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell.

  5. Reverse the movement, lifting the body while keeping a strong straight spine. Keep the weight steady and elevated over the right shoulder.

  6. Return to the starting position and repeat. Be sure that you maintain a strong, straight spine throughout this move.

Windmill exercise

How do you make a dumbbell windmill?

You can do the windmill exercise with a dumbbell if you don’t have access to a kettlebell. The balance element will differ as the weight is positioned straight over your wrist rather than behind it. This move will challenge your wrist’s stability. Do the exercise exactly the same as for the kettlebell windmill, only using a dumbbell instead of a kettlebell.

Windmill variations

Double weight windmill

Make this exercise more challenging by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in both hands.

Windmill exercise

Low kettlebell windmill

Hold the kettlebell in the lower hand, rather than the raised arm. This will ease up on the required shoulder stability that is required to hold the kettlebell weight overhead. Using this technique will grounding effect and you’ll feel more stable on your feet.

Windmill exercise

Abs windmill variation

This is a great windmill variation for your abs.

Start by:

Laying down on your mat face up. extend both arms out to the sides palms down on the floor. Now lift your legs so that your feet are facing the ceiling.

This is your starting position.

Next, twist your torso to lower your legs to the right side. Get as low as you are comfortable with, keeping your legs straight.

Engage your core to bring your legs back to the starting position above your body.

Repeat this move to lower your legs to the left. Keep your hands stationary. That’s one rep.

Do 6-10 reps per set.

Common windmill exercise mistakes

Too little rotation

Many people perform windmills without enough rotation in their torsos. This means they get very little benefit from the move other than some light stretching.

Too much rotation

On the other hand, some people rotate their torsos too much. This can cause pain in the lower back and hips and should be avoided.

Not enough range of motion

When you do windmills, it’s important to go low enough that you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Otherwise, you’re not getting the full benefit of the move.

Overextending the shoulder

When the kettlebell or dumbbell is overhead, be sure not to overextend the shoulder. This can cause injury.

Hinge at your hips, not your waist

You don’t want to twist your spine, so don’t bend at the waist, use your hips to bend forward.

Wearing shoes

If you notice that you are having a hard time grounding your foot. Try the kettlebell windmill exercise without shoes on. This may help to stabilize your body while performing this move.

Final thoughts

The kettlebell windmill exercise is an excellent way to improve your balance and strength. You’ll also break a sweat doing this workout! Keep in mind that it takes time and practice to master the kettlebell windmill; but once learned, you won’t regret it!

Give this full-body move a try the next time you hit the gym!

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