Whenever I begin raving about kettlebells to people, I never know what reaction I’m going to get. It varies depending on the person and their knowledge of what a kettlebell is.
Folks who don’t know what a kettlebell is tend to laugh and ask me if I’m some kind of tea making guru. People who know what they are but haven’t used them before tend to say something along the lines of ‘Are they the scary balls on the gym floor?’ And then you get your fitness buffs who immediately start questioning your technique and asking what you snatch, which to someone eavesdropping might sound hugely inappropriate.
So, for anyone who doesn’t know what a kettlebell is, here goes nothing.
A kettlebell is a type of weight known to have originated in Russia in the 1700′s. Made from cast iron which is moulded to look like a kettle, they are made up of a round base which resembles a canon ball with a handle on the top. To someone who has never used one before, they can look very intimidating, but once you start training with them you will be amazed at how quickly you increase your weight. Kettlebells give your a cardiovascular and strength workout all in one. The compound, explosive movements which you use when working out with a kettlebell, raise your heart rate whilst also blitzing your muscles. Trust me, you won’t be able to walk straight for a week following your first kettlebell workout. But pain equals gain.
Without making too many assumptions, people who don’t use kettlebells often reveal how they have an intense regime where they run intervals for ten minutes, bench press 50 reps then jump on the rower and repeat. Or perhaps you do your weights first using the standard machines in the gym followed by a half hour run to rid yourself of the lactic buildup? While there is nothing wrong with these techniques, kettlebells incorporate all of these techniques and allow you do do an all over body workout in only a fraction of the time. I am beginning to sound like a commercial on the shopping channels, but I mean when I say that these bad boys work!
In a nutshell, kettlebells work by:
- Building endurance and fitness
- Shedding fat and building muscle creating definition (yay!)
- Optimising calorie burn
- Increasing flexibility and strength
So what do you do with a kettlebell? Well, kettlebells are so versatile, you can incorporate them into virtually any regime either as the main focus of your training, or as a way of bringing in weight training. I’ve also heard that a lot of runners use them as the explosive movements build power.
Kettlebells can be used for strength training, conditioning, and even aerobically. In my workouts, if I focus on strength so I will use a 20kg (approximately 45lbs) kettlebell and focus on fewer reps and good technique. But if I’m feeling a little less focused, I’ll go for a slightly smaller weight (14-16kgs or 30-35lbs)and focus on maximum reps. For example, I’ll set my gymboss to 40 seconds effort and 20 seconds rest and select 6 exercises which represent a full body workout and repeat the set 2-3 times. Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques of the main exercises, you will find it easy to create your own workouts.
Please be aware that I’ve never had any formal training, and therefore cannot be held responsible for any injuries or holes in the floor. I’d always recommend going to a trained professional to teach you the basics before you throw your kettlebell through the TV.
Until next time…