What is it with kettlebells anyway?

I’ll soon be teaching a kettlebell user workshop (June 2017) with a friend and fellow kettlebell lover. We totally see the curiosity in some people who want to learn how to use these odd-looking handle-embellished cannon balls. But, as I promote the workshop I want to prepare myself for the usual eyebrow raisers who question the kettlebell. Let me share with you some of my feelings and those of the superstar coaches involved with kettlebell coaching.

What is it with kettlebells anyway?

People ask me all the time, “Why kettlebells? Is this type of training really any different from a dumbbell, barbell or other gym exercises?” Every time I’m asked that question, I start to feel the passion build and I have to contain myself. Kettlebell training is radically different from any other form of training I’ve personally experienced in my many years of weight training.

Surprisingly often, many people just have ONE kettlebell to start with and you know what, one kettlebell is all you need for a surprisingly good training program. Because of its shape, the kettlebell lends itself for fast, propulsive movements like the swing, clean and the snatch. These torch calories and turn the power muscles of the body into overdrive.

The kettlebell proves a great tool for pressing, squatting, hip hinging movements and rowing. It’s a take anywhere gym.

Without wasting time fluffing around all the other things you could be doing in a gym, a minimalist approach with a kettlebell encourages you to do what needs to be done, without distraction. Swing, squat, press, pull and carry.

Here’s what other have to say.

There is a real need in this industry for “One Kettlebell Workouts”, and I love them. I enjoy driving to a park, meeting with friends, walking a bit with my kettlebell, training, and then enjoying a nice picnic. I keep this tradition alive every weekday morning when people join me to workout at 9:30. – Dan John

Primarily because of its offset handle, a kettlebell, makes your body work harder by recruiting more musculature and increasing ranges of motion.

In the first example, holding a kettlebell over your head is a much different feeling than holding the same sized dumbbell over your head. A dumbbell will pitch side-to-side since the weight is evenly balanced in the hand. A kettlebell will pull your arm backward, because the majority of the weight is below the handle,  and in doing so, will force your shoulder musculature to work harder.

In the second example, increasing ranges of motion, we can take a look at the Swing, an exercise where the weight is passed between and underneath the legs. The offset handle increases the lever arm pushing the hips further back, and stretching their muscles to a greater degree than with a dumbbell. And you can’t even do that with a barbell. – Geoff Neupert

 

The kettlebell swing is a perfect example of the uniqueness of kettlebell training. Why? As Tracy Reifkind, RKC and author of the great book The Swing puts it, it’s a two-for-one exercise. It combines the benefits of resistance training and cardiovascular conditioning in one very powerful exercise. There isn’t an exercise that addresses so many things at once as does the kettlebell swing. – Scott Iardella

In Russia, the kettlebell traditionally has been a training tool for tough people. When I started teaching kettlebells to Americans, I saw the same pattern; my early students were military operators, fighters, and other hard men.

What pleased and surprised me over the years is how this hardcore tool went on to appeal to people from all walks of life. My teaching goals used to be narrow: Make the tough even tougher. Today they are broader: Enable regular folks to join the tough. Finally become the man or woman you used to want to be. – Pavel Tsatsouline

If you would like to learn more about kettlebell training, please get in touch now.

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