The Kettlebell: One Tool, Endless Benefits

Why kettlebells? Because they work! This cannonball with a handle has been around for centuries and has been widely used in the Russian military for strength and endurance. First introduce in the United States in 1998 by Pavel Tsatsouline, Russian Special Forces trainer, coach and founder of the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC), kettlebells are quickly becoming all the rage. Kettlebells are an all-encompassing gym; easy to travel with, versatile and extremely effective. The best part – all this can be done in your own home with little space.

So what exactly makes a kettlebell workout different from any other weight based training? For one, the design of the kettlebell allows for the center of mass to be different than that of a dumbbell, where the mass is distributed evenly. With the weight constantly pulling away from the handle, your body performs a unique counter-balance during moves such as swings, which will challenge your entire body. Also, in most kettlebell movements you need to hinge at your hips, which works your posterior chain, (muscles of the spine, glutes and back of the legs). Most of us are quad dominant in everyday movement, so this change is extremely beneficial to balancing our body.

Kettlebell training uses large muscle groups along with the smaller stabilizers, making for an extremely effective workout. The cardio demand is comparable to that of an interval workout: it’s loaded with fat burning and endurance properties. Because kettlebell training is based on overall body movement, most participants will benefit from greater flexibility and less pain in their joints. You can also perform more traditional weight training moves like presses, pulls and squats making the kettlebell extremely versatile.

Kettlebells are getting more press and research about their effectiveness. In a January/February 2010 study sponsored by American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Scientists at the University of Wisconsin, subjects were asked to perform a kettlebell snatch test for a specific cadence during a 20-minute period. The outcome was extraordinary. Subjects burned up to 20.2 calories per minute. According to the study, “This is equivalent to running a 6 minute mile or cross country skiing up a hill at a fast pace.”

The kettlebell is a single tool with endless benefits. It improves strength, endurance, flexibility, and power. It will fire up your metabolism, in turn causing extreme fat burning effects. Join a Kettlebell circuit class or boot camp and enjoy the journey.

What size should I start with?

Based on athletic ability:

Men: 16kg or 24kg

Woman: 8kg or 12kg

-Bill Waltzek