Kettlebells are cast iron weights, ranging from 5 lbs to over 100 lbs, shaped like a ball with a handle for easy gripping. The kettlebell originated in Russia and was popular in the U.S. decades ago, but has hit a resurgence in the last few years with a flurry of classes, videos and books. The reason? Kettlebells offer a different kind of training using dynamic moves targeting almost every aspect of fitness – endurance, strength, balance, agility and cardio endurance. People love it because it's challenging, efficient and you only need one piece of equipment.
The idea is to hold the kettlebell in one or both hands and go through a variety of swings , presses or pulling motions. Some movements have you changing the weight from hand to hand as the weight swings up or as you move laterally, requiring you to stabilize the body and engage the core in a whole new way. Other moves require power from the legs and hips to move the weight, giving you integrated whole body movements that are often missing with other types of training.
The Benefits of Kettlebell Training
Almost any exerciser can benefit from kettlebell training. Just a few benefits include:
- Improved coordination and agility
- Better posture and alignment – Many exercises work the postural muscles in a functional way
- It's time efficient – You train multiple fitness components in the same session including cardio, strength, balance, stability, power and endurance
- The exercises are functional and weight bearing which helps increase bone density and keep the body strong for daily tasks
- You become more efficient at other types of exercise
- Increased power development and endurance, which is great for a variety of sports
- It can help protect athletes from injuries – Many injuries happen when you're moving fast and have to come to a stop (a.k.a., eccentric deceleration). Kettlebell exercises actually train the body in eccentric deceleration, which can translate to a healthier, stronger body on the court or field
- Low risk of injury when you use good form and the right weights
- Simplicity – the exercises are simple, the workouts are straightforward and you only need one piece of equipment
If you're interested in getting started with kettlebell training, it's best to take a class or get some guidance from an experienced instructor to get detailed breakdowns of the exercises. Many of the swinging movements may be unfamiliar and a professional can help with your form and in choosing your weights. Check out our kettlebells here!