Kettlebells, what exactly are they? Anybody that has been to our facility knows that I love kettlebells, but why? What’s so great about them? Kettlebells resemble a bowling ball with a handle. They have a long history with old-time strongmen and were popularized by Russian athletes. Nowadays, though, they are used by:
- professional athletes
- martial artists
Why are they so great though? For starters they’re easy to transport. Amp up any activity by bringing your bell with you (last year I did hill climbs up Deming Park hill, and lunge walks for a true test!). Going on vacation? Take your bell, so you don’t lose what you’ve worked for. I’m going on vacation next week and I am packing my 60 lbs. kettlebell with me to workout on the beach. Why would you want to lug around a large bell though, what does it do? Kettlebells are great for a total body workout! One exercise can engage the muscles in your legs, back, core and arms! One little bell can work your whole body and you don’t need all those expensive fancy machines, performing a bunch of exercises to make sure you work all your muscle groups. Wouldn’t it be more practical to use one piece of equipment, do fewer exercises and get the same workout for less time and money? Also since it’s a free weight it doesn’t restrict your range of motion (like straight bars do), and it has momentum unlike dumbells. Let’s look at just one movement with the kettlebell; the swing. Included is a video of my wife performing a swing, it’s the most general movement with a kettlebell and we use it in most of our cardio plays. I found an artile called the “7 Kettlebell Swing Benefits” which pretty much solidifies my beliefs in kettlebell training. So here is a summary of reasons to swing!
1. They’re highly efficient and allow for weight and fitness training at the same time.
2. They work the posterior muscles of the core and back, your glutes and hamstrings. For athletes these are important for activities like: sprinting and jumping.
3. They work a lot of muscles in a sort amount of time, but also get your heart rate up.
4. It’s a functional ab workout (you’re wasting time with sit-ups, all you’re doing is working your hip flexors more than your abs, sorry!)
5. Trains all parts of your back; from the lower back all the way up into your trapezius muscles.
6. Build-up back endurance (thus limiting injury) by performing high-rep swings.
7. Great conditioner and fat burner (I’ve adopted the phrase “Nothing burns fat like swinging a kettlebell”); high intensity training has been shown to burn more fat than slow endurance training (like jogging, yawn!)
So why not at least try them? There are a variety of exercises that you can do (including Olympic lifts). Test your strength and do a Turkish get up (a staple for Eastern European strongmen). Other personal favorites of mine are the squat press, windmill, juggling, and upside down floor press. Check back in next week when we’ll have video of juggling and lunging with kettlebells from the beach. If you’re a beginner, though, the swing is a great exercise! Things to remember:
- always keep your head up
- squat down to pick up and release the kettlebell
- thrust the hips
- let your arm just go along for the ride
- don’t let the kettlebell carry you (keep erect)
So go out, get your bell and enjoy (your whole body will love you for it).