If the term is new to you, you may be wondering, “What are kettlebells?” If you already know what they are, you may want to find out about how to use them and the kettlebell training benefits.
One of the first fitness tools invented, kettlebells have been around for centuries. In recent years they have become mainstream, and they are now available at most sporting goods stores.
In this article, we will answer the question, what are kettlebells. We will also look at the history of kettlebells and the kettlebell training benefits. We will cover how to use them, how to choose the right weight and more.
What are Kettlebells?
Kettlebells are free weights that range from 2 pounds up to 106 pounds or more. They resemble a flat-bottomed cannonball with a handle attached to the top.
Usually made of cast iron or steel, some kettlebells are coated in vinyl or encased in a rubber shell. This makes them softer on the hands and helps to protect your floor from becoming marked during workouts.
A Brief History of Kettlebells
The history of kettlebells dates back centuries to a time when they were used by farmers, strongmen, bodybuilders, and athletes, for work and training purposes and in competitions. The Russian Police Force and the Military also used kettlebells in their training programs. They were relatively unknown in the West until Russian fitness instructor Pavel Tsatsouline introduced them to America in 2001. Capturing the attention of people in the fitness field, over time their popularity spread to various other Western countries.
There are now an estimated 100,000 kettlebell users, and this figure is rising. Many fans claim that kettlebell exercises have enabled them to lose weight and inches faster than any other form of exercise they’ve tried.
Keep reading to find out about kettlebell training benefits.
10 Minute Beginner Total Body Kettlebell Workout
Kettlebell Training Benefits
Wondering about kettlebell training benefits, compared with using traditional hand weights? While hand weights can give an excellent workout, kettlebells deliver some additional benefits, which we will look at below.
- Suitable for all
By using correct form and a kettlebell of the appropriate weight, people of any age or fitness level can safely experience the benefits of using kettlebells.
When exercising with kettlebells, less stress is placed on the joints than when exercising with regular hand weights.
- Time efficient
Kettlebell workout exercises are ideal for busy people because it delivers both aerobic and anaerobic benefits in the one session. A complete body workout will take just twenty to thirty minutes.
Kettlebells take up very little room, both during workouts and to store. A space of around 6 feet by 6 feet will be sufficient for workouts. Between workouts, your kettlebell can be stored in a closet or under a bed.
NB Some kettlebell workout exercises require that the bell is swung up over your head. Your ceiling will need to be high enough to accommodate this movement.
- Delivers multiple fitness benefits
When exercising with kettlebells we work multiple muscle groups at the same time. They build strength and increase the heart rate, giving an excellent aerobic workout.
People who regularly exercise with kettlebells will tone and define all of their major muscle groups and enhance their cardiovascular fitness. At the same time, they will also improve their balance and posture and increase their core strength and stability.
- Burns lots of calories
Kettlebell workout exercises burn far more calories than traditional weight exercises. Put in the effort, and it’s possible to burn an incredible 20 calories per minute. That’s 1,200 calories for every hour you work out, so it’s easy to see why more and more people are jumping on the kettlebell exercise bandwagon.
* The exact number of calories you burn will depend on several factors. These include your weight, the intensity you work at and the length of your workout.
- Builds lean muscle
If you favor a lean muscled look over bulk, you will love what regular kettlebell workouts can do for your physique.
- Improves balance
Most traditional weight workouts target one muscle group at a time. Conversely, the act of controlling a kettlebell’s offset center of gravity means the body must exert effort to maintain balance. Undertake this type of workout regularly, and you will significantly improve your balance.
How to Use Kettlebells
When exercising with kettlebells, maintaining correct form takes coordination and kinesthetic (body) awareness. Kinesthetic awareness will be new to most people, and it can take practice to master.
Kettlebell workouts usually require that the kettlebell is held in both hands. The bell is swung, not lifted as traditional free weights or dumbbells are. This produces a smooth action that engages multiple joint and muscle groups simultaneously.
Once perfected, the movement will come naturally without you having to think about it. Done the wrong way, you could drop the weight on your feet, bump and bruise your calves or even injure your joints, neck, back or spine. For this reason, it is a good idea to get some lessons from a certified kettlebell trainer before starting. Alternatively, get a quality instructional kettlebell DVD.
What Weight Should a Newbie Use?
The weight you choose to use will depend on your current level of fitness and the exercises you will be doing. With kettlebells being swung, not lifted, you should be able to start with a heavier weight than you probably anticipate. Don’t go too heavy, though, as doing so could result in injury.
The usual recommended starting weight for adult males ranges from 25 to 35 pounds. The recommended weight for adult females is usually in the 12 to 26-pound range.
With some kettlebell exercises, the bell will be swung above your head. If you don’t have a great deal of upper body strength, use a light weight. When you are stronger, progress to a heavier weight.
If you are unsure of what weight to start with, go lighter rather than heavier. Too light a weight can, however, adversely affect form. It can also mean the muscles you are targeting are not exercised optimally, so you won’t get as good a workout.
Final Thoughts on Kettlebells and Their Training Benefits
If you lead a busy life, you’re tired of working out for hours every week, or you’re just looking for a new exercise program, give kettlebells a try!
To get underway, you can either take some classes with a qualified kettlebell trainer or buy a kettlebell and a beginner’s kettlebell workout DVD. My mom started out with the Kathy Smith Kettlebell Solution. (Click the blue link to the left to read a review.) She was very happy with it and the results she got, and she still uses it to this day, though with heavier kettlebells.