Kettlebells can be found in almost any gym you walk into these days. Kettlebells look cool and are different from the mundane machines that you generally find in a gym, but the appeal of the kettlebell goes a lot deeper once you start to learn more about them. Not only are they great tools to use to lose weight and get stronger, but they can be used by virtually everyone.
History of Kettlebells
Kettlebells were originated as farm tools in 18th century Russia as counterweights for measuring grain. Naturally, farmers started to compete with each other to see who could lift the heaviest one, which eventually led to kettlebells becoming a part of circus strongmen acts. The Soviet Red Army introduced kettlebells into their training regimens after World War II, and by the 1970s kettlebell lifting had become the official sport of the Soviet Union. Kettlebells were introduced to the United States in the 1940s, but have really exploded in popularity over the last 10 years or so.
What is a kettlebell?
Kettlebells are comprised of three different parts: 1: The bell, 2. The horns, 3. The handle.
1. The bell is the round, cannonball shaped weight.
2. The horns are the angular pieces that slope down from the handle, to the bell.
3. The handle is the very top part in which you hold.
The three parts of the kettlebell, and the design of it, is what makes this a unique training tool. A kettlebell’s center of gravity is offset from the handle, unlike most training tools such as dumbbells, where the center of gravity is positioned evenly in the middle. With the center of gravity being a few inches away from the center, it creates a unique challenge that requires a stricter form and more muscle activation than the traditional strength training exercise. Almost immediately flaws in technique can be seen and felt if done improperly with a kettlebell, as opposed to a more traditional mode in which you can get away a little more with “cheating.”
Benefits of Kettlebell Training
Kettlebells can vastly improve many areas in your training regime. Because of the off-center balance of the weight, they require greater muscle activation to properly control them. If done right, this will lead to a stronger core. Since your core’s primary function is to control movement and protect your spine, having an off-centered weight will challenge your core even more than traditional strength training. Kettlebells will also lead to greater grip strength (for the importance of grip strength, stay tuned for Thursday’s blog). With the weight being off-centered, and off-balance, it forces the muscles in your fingers, hands, and forearms to work harder to control the weight. Kettlebell training can have a unique combination of cardio and strength training. There are many dynamic movements that not only challenge your strength but will also challenge your cardiovascular system. This is a unique combination that is not found with many traditional strength training exercises.
Kettlebells are an amazing tool when implemented properly into any exercise routine. Just like any other exercise routine, safety is the most important aspect. Before picking up a kettlebell at your gym and start swinging it for the first time, I recommend hiring a professional trainer to teach you how to safely and properly use them. If you have any questions about kettlebell training, please email me at [email protected].