They originated in Russia and have actually been around since the 1700s.
The design has remained relatively untouched in that time, although you’ll be glad to hear that they are not measured in a unit called the pood anymore.
The kettlebell gets its effectiveness from having a centre of mass that can extend beyond the hand and, as you will know from your delt raises, the centre of gravity can have a drastic effect on the difficulty, and the power, of an exercise.
It means that although you can use the bell for presses and curls, it really thrives when it is swung.
1. Swing In The Changes
A kettlebell’s centre of gravity actually shifts during the course of the exercise and can help you burn a high amount of calories, while building lean muscle all along the posterior chain of your body.
Other benefits that you can garner from the bells include an increase in so-called functional strength, as many of the everyday objects you pick up – stuffed cases, bags of cement, even wriggling children – can have a shifting centre of gravity, while kettlebells can also make you more supple and boost your flexibility.
2. How To Do It
Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet a bit wider than your shoulders. Hold the kettlebell by its handle with both hands in between your feet.
Without changing the bend in your knees, swing the bell up from between your legs and out to just higher than chest level, keeping your arms straight.
Use paradoxal breathing to help create a virtual weight belt to protect your back.
Take in huge gulps of air as the bell swings back to the floor and exhale at the top of the swing.
You should find that it’s a low-impact move that will really get your blood pumping before the end of your sets and can fire your metabolism for a few hours afterwards.
3. Any Advanced Variations?
You could try turning the swing into a crush.
This builds on the classic move by requiring you to release and catch the kettlebell when the swing is at chest height.
This variation will boost your core and chest, help strengthen your grip and improve your coordination.
Just remember to take it easy, starting off with a smaller weight than you are used to with the standard swings. Make sure you are on a soft surface in case you do drop it!
Also, you can take advantage of the kettlebell’s unique shape to flow from one exercise to the next. Basically, you switch from one exercise to another after one rep without putting the bell down.
4. Try This
Grab a kettlebell with one hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Swing it between your legs as before, this time when it reaches chest level, flip it behind your forearm and press it overhead in a snatch motion.
The flow then continues as, with the kettlebell still overhead, you alter your stance so your toes point away from the weight at 45 degrees.
Bend at the waist and slide your opposite arm down your corresponding leg.
Pause, to really test your obliques and shoulders, then reverse the move to all the way back to the start.
How To Select A Good-Quality Kettlebell
I like competition kettlebells because every weight is the same size. That’s useful for getting a consistent feel, particularly when you’re doing complex moves like cleans and snatches.
I prefer cast-iron kettlebells over rubber-based ones because they tend to have a more stable base. That’s useful when you’re doing exercises like the renegade row, where you have to put all of your bodyweight on the kettlebell.
For men, I’d suggest using a 16kg and a 20kg kettlebell. That’s heavy enough to provide a challenge but light enough to do high-rep sets and will allow you to do all of the key exercises, including the ones in this guide.
|Kettlebell Goblet Squat||10||1|
|Kettlebell One-arm Row||8 (Each Side)||4|
|Kettlebell One-arm Press||10||4|
|Kettlebell Chest-loaded Swing||10||4|
|Kettlebell Shoulder Halo||10||4|
|Kettlebell Hip Halo||10||4|
Benefits of Kettlebell Training
Kettlebells are a tool just like any other piece of fitness equipment, they can be used correctly or they can be used incorrectly. The kettlebell is pulled, pushed, and swung in a dynamic nature causing excessive demands on the body.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Offset Handle enables swinging of the kettlebell
- Kettlebell Swinging increases the load and so increases the demands required to decelerate the kettlebell
- Swinging increases the demand on stabilisation muscles as they work harder to keep joints aligned
- Swinging the Kettlebell increases Lunge and Heart Capacity as multi-joint movements require more oxygen
- Kettlebell Swinging requires no movement of the feet meaning a Full Body workout requiring little workout space
- Kettlebell Exercises involve full body movements connecting head to toe and improving core integration
- Regular Kettlebell Training increases ligaments and soft tissue strength due to the dynamic movements
What Kettlebell Weight to Use
Kettlebells traditionally come in a number of different weights, here’s my guide to what weight to use:
- 8kg or 17lbs – Starting Weight for Women, I’ve never trained a women who shouldn’t start here. Remember this isn’t Dumbbell training!
- 12kg or 26lbs – Unconditioned Men start here and Women advance to here very quickly
- 16kg or 36lbs (Original Weight) – Average Conditioned Men start here, and many women progress to this weight within 6-12 months
- 20kg or 44lbs – A natural progression for men and some women use this for Swings
- 24kg or 52lbs – (Original Weight) – This is the goal for men and a nice demanding weight for most exercises.
- 28kg or 61lbs – It’s a big leap from 24kg to 32kg so this can help bridge the gap.
- 32kg or 70lbs – (Original Weight) – I like this weight for Swings and Turkish Get Ups
Due to the increased popularity of kettlebell training many manufacturers have started to produce smaller and interim weight sizes. Stick to the weights above and I’m sure you will find you don’t need any other sizes.
Most men can survive with just a 16kg kettlebell for some time and most women can benefit from an 8kg and a 12kg.