Be king of the swingers with kettlebell training.
Kettlebells have been the the Russians weapon of choice in the war against fat for over a century and finally their popularity has grown and the UK has decided to give kettlebells a swing.
What is a Kettlebell?
A traditional kettlebell is a cast iron weight, it’s spherical in shape with a flat base and handle at the top.
Why are they named Kettlebells?
The story goes that the name kettlebells originates from the church. For centuries church bells were rung by pulling on levers which were strung through wheels and attached to the bells. Some bells could weigh as much as three tons! As you can imagine this took more muscle than that of your little old nuns and so most would employ a team of qualified men possessing great strength, skill and coordination to affect the proper sound. These guys wanted to get it right and so would practice with non-clapper bells, called “dumb-bells”.
Similarly, Scottish legend has it that would-be strongmen utilized old or leaky cast iron cooking kettles as rudimentary weights. By filling the kettles with sand, soil, or lead shot, they became load-adjustable strength-training tools which could be lifted, pulled or swung about.
And thus the kettlebell was born.
The history of Kettlebells
Kettlebells or Girya as the Russians refer to them, were originally used as a measuring tools, most typically on marketplace scales as counter- weights. Venders would mess around with their weights, showing off for customers by pressing, swinging and tossing their weights.
As time marched on their skills were passed from father to son, until they eventually became a customary form of entertainment in Russian culture.
In 1981 the first official Kettlebell Commission was formed with the sole mission of enforcing mandatory kettlebell exercise and conditioning for the population. They understood that this singular instrument would keep its people fit, increase productivity, and decrease healthcare costs. Kettlebells became the conditioning tool of choice for the Russian Special Forces, the “Spetznaz”, creating soldiers who possessed incredible explosive power and endurance. Now many professional athletes (and people like you and I) use the bells in their training programs for the same results.
By their nature, typical kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength. The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities to develop functional strength.
Benefits of kettlebell training
- The American Council on Exercise has found that the average kettlebell workout results in significant calorie burn – 300 calories in 15 minutes.
- Serious cardio without the boredom of steady state cardio.
- Builds functional strength without the monotony of isolated reps.
- Improves flexibility.
- Workouts can be varied so they’re never boring.
- Kettlebells are an easily portable device.
- Safe for anyone to try, at all levels of fitness.
- Combines cardio and strength training, by keeping heart rate elevated.
- The workouts can be short and still very effective.
- Kettlebells can be the solution to trying to squeeze cardio, strength AND flexibility training in an already overbooked schedule.
- No need for gym memberships, use kettlebells at home, outside, wherever you can carry them.
- Very different from dumbbells and barbells. Anyone who has picked up a kettlebell has felt the difference. The off centered weight of a kettlebell requires stabiliser muscles and works the targeted muscles through a wider range of motion.a
- Kettlebell training consists of whole-body movement exercises. It’s well-known that compound, whole body movements are the best for burning calories and increasing muscle mass.
- Kettlebells focus on movement not muscles, combining strength, function, cardio and mobility.
- The moves are easy to learn. Movements are simple and you can start using them right away.
- Kettlebell training is great for raising your heart rate for HIIT.
- Kettlebells strengthen your joints with ballistic non impact movement.
- Develop functional strength. Kettlebell training uses fundamental movement patterns making everyday activities easier and injury less likely.
- Builds mobility
- Prevent injury by developing mobility, stability, and strength.
- Kettlebells require you to engage the core in almost every lift.
- More coordination. The brain knows movements and not “muscles” you become more coordinated with kettlebell use.
Over the next few blog posts we will be breaking down the main kettlebell exercises for you to get to grips with, starting with the famous swing.