Kettlebells are possibly the best piece of workout equipment you could invest in. Besides being a fun way to get in shape, kettlebells can be used in many ways. Strength, cardiovascular and muscular endurance are all improved with kettlebell training. So what is this tool and where did it come from? Kettlebells originated in the 1800’s in Russia. Who else to have a single tool to exercise with that could do so much? Kettlebells were used in markets back in the day, as weights.Literally weights to hold things down. Well, since men (and women now) can’t resist seeing if they can lift something, it became a sport. A kettlebell looks like a ball basically, with a handle on it. Not just any ball, but a weighted ball that can be purchased and used as a workout tool starting at 5 lbs. and going up to over 100 lbs. Make sure that when you speak of this amazing tool, that you say kettlebell: not kettle ball. That seems to be the common thing that people get wrong.
One of the biggest questions that is asked is “what is the difference in using a kettlebell, versus using a dumbbell or free weight?” The answer is simple. A kettlebell has the center of gravity in the middle of the ball. In order to swing a kettlebell, you must keep your core engaged the entire time. This makes it a great tool for strengthening the back and the abdominal muscles. It used to be said that we should “baby” a bad back. Now, countless studies have shown that when done properly, kettlebell training strengthens the muscles surrounding the entire core. Kettlebell training as actually great for preventing back injuries and keeping your back and abdominals strong.
The basis of all kettlebell moves begins with the swing. With the kettlebell on the floor about a foot in front of you, you bend down with slightly bent knees, feet hips width apart and grab the kettlebell with both hands. The first motion is to pull the kettlebell behind you and up close between your legs while in a slightly squatting back position. The core is engaged to keep you balanced with chest and head up and looking forward. The kettlebell swing is a move that is generated from a hip hinge back, to propelling the kettlebell forward and up.
It is a movement that when executed properly, engages your core to remain stable, and your glutes and legs to generate the forward movement. The greatest thing about swinging a kettlebell is the way your heart rate soars and your blood pumps. This happens even with the most well trained weight lifter. Due to the weight of the kettlebell and the power at which the kettlebell is swinging, you are getting a great cardio workout as well as a muscular workout. This is a single tool that can be used for many reasons. Weight loss due to the amount of calories burned during a workout. Progressive strength due to the fact that as you get more conditioned, you can keep moving up in weight of the kettlebells.
Most importantly to some, cardiovascular endurance is also improved as this tool creates an oxygen debt that is greater than many other exercises. As one becomes more efficient in kettlebell training, the weight of the person to the weight of the kettlebell is the ratio that keeps the training intense. Above all, kettlebell training is fun. It is never boring. You are always competing against your last workout in a way that forces you to get stronger and swing longer. Pretty soon you are going for numbers of swings, while the calories are being torched and your muscles are burning with fatigue.
Think that this sounds like a great tool? I have just gotten started. Kettlebell swings are only the first move to master when beginning a program with kettlebells. From there, the possibilities are endless. There are many other exercises that these heavy weighted balls with a handle are used in. From old school cleans, to the classic clean and jerk, the old style of hardcore training has come back. Single handed swings to using double kettlebells while swinging is popular. Turkish get ups, to rows, to many forms of squats are used. Deadlifts, goblet squats and lunges are some of the more popular exercises in bootcamps and classes. When you master all of these, maybe you are ready to consider a competition. With a sport that just a handful of years ago was only heard of in other parts of the world, comes a competition that is not for the weak.
Kettlebell Sport is a fast growing competitive sport. The competitions are filled with just as many women as men these days. As a matter of fact, pound for pound, the women are cleaning up the trophies. With events that last as long as ten minutes of swinging the kettlebell from a clean and jerk, to a snatch, this competition is grueling. Athletes congregate to try to outswing in numbers of swings and kilograms of weight to beat their peers.
Efficiency is the way to a winning place at the end of the day. Still some of the top world competitors come from Russia to compete with us Americans, killing it on the platform nearly every time! The Americans are soon gaining on them. Some of the smallest women are cleaning and jerking a kettlebell that is one third and more of their bodyweight. Since you are only allowed to change hands one time in the ten minute event, these women and men have trained hard. Check out Kettlebell Sport on You Tube for videos of this amazing competition that is fast becoming popular. This is an athletic event that has to be seen. Although swinging a kettlebell can be done by pretty much anyone, those dedicated to training and intensity are on the platforms here. They are powerful, and are some of the strongest and most conditioned athletes out there.
If you are looking for a tool that does it all in the world of fitness, then pick up and swing a kettlebell. It might take a few swings with a good trainer coaching you but once you have it down, you will be hooked. Want to lose body fat? Swing a kettlebell. Looking to increase your cardiovascular capacity? Start swinging. Like to add some muscle to a weak frame? The kettlebell is your tool for all. If this sounds like something that you have been looking for, then make sure you get your coaching done in the right place. Make sure you learn from someone that is certified in teaching Kettlebells. When you find the gym with the right trainer, the sky is the limit.
Make sure you are cleared to train in this manner by your family health care practitioner. Even if you have back issues, you can get the blood flowing and the supporting muscles around your core stronger. Elevate your heart, your mood and your strength levels with Kettlebells. The one piece of workout equipment for optimal fitness.