Kettlebells might seem like a new fitness trend, but the concept is actually centuries old.
This funny shaped weight resembles a cannonball with a handle and is often made of cast iron or steel. Kettlebells originated in Russia in the 1700s — although it wasn’t originally used for exercise, but rather for weighing crops.
Kettlebells soon became part of physical training and conditioning programs throughout Russia and Europe, eventually making their way to the United States. Today, kettlebell training is used in gyms and fitness studios across the county.
To get a picture of what a kettlebell looks like, imagine a small bowling ball with a suitcase handle. This weight comes in a variety of sizes — from
8 pounds to 97 pounds. They’re versatile, and most standard exercises can be performed with a kettlebell.
Kettlebells offer advantages over barbells or dumbbells. This type of training is movement based, which means you’re using multiple muscle groups at the same time. This type of full-body conditioning teaches the body to work as one strong unit. Another benefit of adding kettlebell training to your workout is that it saves time because you’re using multiple muscle groups at one time.
Kettlebells are good not only for only strength training, but also incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic — that is, with oxygen — is the same as a cardiovascular workout, like walking, swimming or bicycling. Anaerobic exercise — without oxygen — is a workout that is a quick, high-intensity exercise, similar to a sprint.
With the burst of energy needed to perform the exercises with numerous repetitions, it’s guaranteed to raise your heart rate. With increased heart rate and higher repetitions, you can add fat loss to the list of benefits.
Allen Russell, a trainer at Crossroads Fitness in Grand Junction, talks about using kettlebells. “When used properly, kettlebells activate the kinetic chain — that is, the natural sequence in which muscles are designed to fire — very effectively. In addition to the strength benefits, research has shown that the physiological effects upon the body following the kettlebell swing make it an excellent exercise for anyone to perform.”
In addition to many athletes, kettlebells appeal to people of all fitness levels and genders. Said Russell: “I find that kettlebells are easily adaptable across most ability levels, depending upon the exercise, to meet the specific individual needs of the majority of my clients.”
There are many movements performed with kettlebells. The most common is the swing. Other movements include clean, jerk, snatch and row. Because kettlebell training uses high repetitions, you should start slowly to build muscle strength and endurance. If done improperly, the movements used in kettlebell exercise can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems. Technique is very important in kettlebell training and should be taught by a skilled trainer to insure proper form. In-person instruction helps to maximize the benefits while ensuring a safe workout.
This “not so new” concept of kettlebell training has become the fitness rage. This training consists of advantageous benefits that include combining cardiovascular and strength training, increased balance and flexibility and weight loss.
Kettlebell training is an effective and fun method of training to add to your workout.