Ever seen the cannonball-shaped equipment in your gym and wondered what in the world it is used for? These small training weights with handles pack a fitness punch. Athletes use kettlebells to improve their cardiovascular fitness, improve core strength and condition their total body. The cast-iron weight with a handle may seem intimidating to novices but those who implement training with ketlebells into their fitness routine quickly come to realize the many benefits of this type of equipment.
- 1 Origins of the Kettlebell
- 2 Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts
- 3 Types of Kettlebell Exercises
- 4 Incorporating Kettlebells in Your Fitness Routine
- 5 Kettlebells: A Complete Fitness Exercise Program
- 6 What are Russian Kettlebells
- 7 How do Kettlebells Work
- 8 What to Expect From Kettlebells
- 9 Are Kettlebells Safe
Origins of the Kettlebell
The kettlebell was originally used by Russian wrestlers as a fitness training tool. In fact, they are occasionally still referred to as Russian kettlebells. They have been around for more than a century but have only recently re-emerged in the fitness world. Many athletes training for endurance incorporate kettlebell routines into their workouts to level up their flexibility and power. Kettlebells come in many sizes, starting at 8 pounds and going up to 105 pounds.
Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts
Because kettlebells are difficult to control, athletes using them to train will notice increased demands placed on their core muscles and other secondary muscles that are not usually engaged during traditional barbell and dumbbell exercises. No matter what sport or everyday activity you are engaged in, having a stronger core improves the effectiveness and power of your other muscles as well as preventing injuries. Also, the movements performed in kettlebell workouts have a greater range of motion, which helps to improve an athlete’s flexibility and strength.
Types of Kettlebell Exercises
Typical exercises like bench presses, curls and rows can be performed with kettlebells. To get the full benefits of the kettlebells, however, athletes should focus on the ballistic exercises that require fast, powerful moves. These include snatches and swings. For snatches, swing the kettlebell between your legs and drive the movement up with your hips as if you were starting a lawnmower. Swings start in the same position but the kettlebell is swung straight out in front of you.
Incorporating Kettlebells in Your Fitness Routine
When beginning a kettlebell training program, form is the most important thing. Poor form can causeback injuries. Therefore, begin slowly by performing one set of the kettlebell exercise of your choice for five reps. Once you’ve mastered your form, you can increase your repetitions and try more difficult exercises like the windmill, which resembles the triangle pose in yoga, or the Turkish get-up, where you go from a lying down to standing position all while holding the kettlebell over your head.
Kettlebells can add a much needed break to the doldrums of your basic workout routines. Introducing them into your fitness routine will keep you engaged and motivated, not to mention provide your body with a welcome challenge. The cardiovascular benefits and overall conditioning will make you leaner, stronger and more toned than traditional workouts.
Kettlebells: A Complete Fitness Exercise Program
Kettlebells deliver a varied and fun fitness workout program by combining cardio exercises and muscle strengthening workouts that sculpt the body, improve endurance and increase fitness. Achieve the same results from spending hours in the gym each week with a kettlebell workout that takes as little as 15 minutes, three times a week. Kettlebells are an ideal fitness program for exercisers looking for the quickest results in the shortest amount of time.
What are Russian Kettlebells
Originating in Russia, kettlebells are making inroads with exercisers, athletes, celebrities, sports teams and weekend warriors because the intense, interval workouts enable them to reach their fitness goals more quickly. Made out of smooth, cast-iron weights, a kettlebell looks like a bowling ball with a thick handle on top. Ranging in weight from two pounds to over 100 pounds, they are easier to hold, balance and move than a dumbbell.
“I think we went through an age of technology which we thought was going to put us in better shape but look what’s happened: we’re not,” says Ken Locker, MA, ATC, a certified athletic trainer at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. People realize expensive, high-tech equipment, either used in a gym or at home, isn’t necessary for getting and staying fit. Affordable and portable, kettlebells provide the back-to-basics fitness regime many exercisers are looking for because they can be used efficiently and effectively indoors or outside, anytime of day.
How do Kettlebells Work
Kettlebell exercises involve many joints and work multiple muscle groups at one time to ensure whole-body conditioning. Movements such as swings, lunges or lifts force the entire body to work as a group, strengthening the core and building stability at the same time. Kettlebells are gaining in popularity because this type of training works the entire body in less time than other forms of exercise programs.
Kettlebell workouts combine aerobic and strength exercises to minimize training time and maximize results. For instance, doing a swing exercise where power is generated from the hips, kettlebells work the abs, strengthen the core and give other muscles a platform to work from. A total body workout, where movements like the swing train all the muscles to work together providing an efficient and effective exercise, can be achieved in less than 20 minutes.
What to Expect From Kettlebells
Kettlebell workouts are highly efficient allowing the exerciser to burn calories both aerobically and through weight training.
“Kettlebells melt fat without the dishonor of dieting or aerobics; losing 1% of bodyfat a week for weeks is not uncommon. If you are overweight, you will lean out. If you are skinny, you will get built up,” stated on On The Edge Fitness, the website of Lauren Brooks, Certified Personal Trainer and Kettlebell Instructor.
Exercise with kettlebells three times a week and enjoy:
- increased energy levels
- a reshaped body
- increased strength
- reduced stress
- improved quality of life
- increased metabolism
Are Kettlebells Safe
For athletes and beginners alike, the most important thing to learn about kettlebell workouts is the technique of an exercise. Start slow, learn the form and use lighter weights. Once a movement is mastered, weight can be increased. Remember, patience is key. To maximize a kettlebell workout, find a personal trainer experienced in kettlebell exercises, or purchase a DVD from a certified kettlebell instructor.
While kettlebell workouts are fun, offer variety and are safe for any age, size or shape, they do require dedication and effort. A great solution for busy people, kettlebells deliver a fit, lean and healthy body in a relatively shorter amount of time than any other type of exercise.