Kettlebell Training originated in Russia. They were used in strong man competitions for sport and/or entertainment. Some say they’re just the Russian version of a dumbbell. Decades ago when some American coaches saw what their superior Baltic counterparts were training their athletes with for certain strength competitions, they began slowly to incorporate kettlebells into their programs. Although it seems like they have been around much longer, kettlebells were supposedly not formally introduced to America until the year 2000.
Making kettlebell training part of your regular exercise workouts will surely help you develop more speed and explosive strength. You might think of kettlebells as dumbbells-plus. The functional center of gravity of a dumbbell is in your hand whereas with a kettlebell, it can, sometimes with some exercises, be somewhat beyond your hand. This tends to develop more full-body integration because your core is worked more and as everyone knows, the core is the center of all movements. In gyms today you’ll see that these weights are suitable for both men and women alike. As many people like to try to use more unconventional equipment once in awhile, these “cannon balls with handles” have become quite popular. They are in many ways more versatile than dumbbells and lend themselves quite well to circuit training and work great to burn fat and re-shape the body. For sports, they have gained somewhat of a following in developing martial arts strength in the areas of the mixed martial arts and wrestling and also in football and rugby where grabbing, tackling and grappling maneuvers are emphasized.
Some Aspects of Kettlebell Training
1)Speed and explosive strength
We all want that certain something that gives us the edge in physical performance. If you can move faster and with more power you will become a better athlete. There are certain exercises that affect the fast twitch muscle fibers more than the slow twitch–all which adds to explosiveness. There are two main ways to activate the fast twitch muscle fibers. One is to lift a moderate weight and keep doing reps until the slow twitch fibers are all used up and “the system” switches over to the fast twitch. The other way is when you perform a rep so fast that the slow twitch fibers are bypassed and mostly fast twitch are used. There are kettlebell exercises for the latter method.
2) Kettlebell Exercises are Suitable for Both Men and Women
The kettlebell exercises employed are not usually the type where huge weights are used as in power lifting. That is not to say that they are all lightweight; some can get up to 100 pounds or more. The usual workout however involves lighter poundages to develop the core and endurance.
3) Circuit Training
This type of workout is one in which you perform anywhere between 5 to 10 different exercises one after the other for the endurance and cardio benefits. The weights used in circuit training are usually (but not always) light weight so that high reps can be done.
4) Burn Fat and Re-Shape
When you do high reps for an exercises and do one exercise after another without much if any rest such as circuit training, you will undoubtedly be burning fat and changing the the muscle to fat ratio in the long run. There many opinions about whether “long and slow” or “guerilla” cardio is better so it depends much on your own personal taste and what other types of exercise you are doing.
5) Full-Body Integration
There are many exercises that utilize just about all the muscles of the body such as the snatch and clean. This teaches the body to move quickly and powerfully as one unit which will help you in the sport of your choice or in staying in shape for life in general.
6) Martial Artist’s Strength
This way of exercise is perfect if you believe in staying wiry, lean and fast. The “bells” can generate enough torque in your workouts which will develop your core, arms and legs–translating into crazy elastic strength.
7) Football and Rugby Players
After a time of using this way of working out as a supplement to regular weight training, you’ll find that the turning and twisting and grappling motions of sports like football and rugby feel more powerful and little easier.
A Few Exercises to Get You Started
The Power Clean
In a half squatting position your torso is as vertical as possible. Your back is arched, meaning, you are NOT bent over, and your right arm is hanging down gripping the handle of the kettlebell which is on the ground. In one motion, pull and thrust upward into a standing position pressing your heels into the floor and “rack” the weight at shoulder level. Shrug with your traps. The bell will swing over to the outside and rest on the outside of your right forearm. This takes some practice to do. You must do this in one motion and also don’t let the weight bang the outside of your forearm. Repeat on the right side.
Same as power clean but your right arm will be straight and the weight will be overhead. You may need a lighter weight for this one.
The Get Up
You lie on the floor on your back. You hold the kettlebell out in front of you and keep it always above you with a straight arm and then slowly get up to a standing position with the weight always straight-armed above you. This is good for the core.
Here is a very good video demonstrating some kettlebell exercises:
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the workout routines you can do with kettlebell training. They are kind of like dumbbells and kind of not. There are even adjustable kettlebells so you can change the poundages just like dumbbells. And that’s enough for now about these cannon balls with handles.
When you go to buy your kettlebell(s), it’s best to buy those that are made entirely of iron. Depending on your workout(s), you may want to get just one 35 pounder (excellent) or a combo pack. Also for further instruction, you may want something that like Bob Harper’s or Tsatsouline Pavel.