Why I love kettlebells and why we use them…
First off, let me explain to you what a kettlebell is if you don’t already know. It’s a cannon ball shaped piece of metal of varying weights with a C-shaped offset handle attached.
“Why are we using kettlebells? You know it’s harder with kettlebells?” Well there you have it, there’s your answer as to why I love them and why we use them. Yes you are right it’s harder, but I’m not asking you to do anything I haven’t done already.
One of my old karate instructors had a similar problem; he was the England karate coach and made everyone do press-ups on their knuckles. All the athletes would complain “But it’s harder like this and it hurts my knuckles” and his answer was always, “Yes I know, what’s your point?”
So yes ladies and gentlemen, kettlebell training is hard but that doesn’t do the kettlebell justice and explain why I love kettlebells, so here it is.
Kettlebells are the perfect blend of strength training and cardiovascular exercise! Take the staple kettlebell exercise – the swing – when done properly is an explosive strength exercise for the posterior chain (the bootay), will get your core working double time, and do a few reps and it will set your lungs on fire as well. A master kettlebell trainer once said, “A kettlebell swing is the perfect blend of patience and power, strength and finesse, stability and relaxation.”
You may have heard me talk about ‘bang for your buck’ exercises before, well that’s the easiest way to explain the point above; you get so much benefit out of using it – you will get stronger, leaner, fitter, healthier and ultimately happier.
Much of the magic of the kettlebell is due to its unique shape. The cannon ball and handle mean you can perform explosive ballistic exercises like the swing and the snatch where the handle can rotate in your hand, manipulating where the bell is in the air, you can also use it for slow grinding exercises like a Turkish get up or shoulder press. The shape of the kettlebell means that you are effectively doing a total body exercise all the time from exercises like the swing, snatch and Turkish get up which are quite obviously total body exercises, to exercises like an overhead press where if using a kettlebell you have to stabilise your core a lot more than you would performing the same exercise with a dumbbell because the weight is set on the outside of the forearm.
The way in which the kettlebell targets your total body means it can be used as a tool to use to reach virtually any fitness-related goal. I am not saying to just use a kettlebell as there are loads of other great tools out there, maybe too many actually. The total body aspect of kettlebell training also makes it incredibly time efficient. I have personally had some of my best training sessions with a kettlebell and got them done in under 10-15 minutes, I guess you could say they were lean in 15, cheeeeeeky.
Using kettlebells also engrains proper movement patterns. Something that I feel quite strongly about is actually just having the ability to move properly and efficiently, something which most of us lack the ability to do because of a sedentary lifestyle. The importance of forming new and proper movement patterns in order to stay injury free is so important and often overlooked. It can be hard as a coach as people want the shortest route from A to B to take the time and teach the client how to move properly, but often will lead in the longer term to reaching their goals more quickly. Kettlebells help us reclaim our true movement and reinforce proper mechanics. Many clients start with pain in their lower back and after a month or so when doing their check-ins they will have forgotten about their back pain, mostly just because they’re moving properly! Exercises such as the Turkish get up are great for this making clients feel like they are moving well and functioning properly again.
Often it’s a case of giving people what they need before giving them what they want.
Movement is key to longevity;
Strength is key for movement;
Movement with strength is key for high levels of physical preparedness!
The statement above sums it up pretty well. Kettlebell training means longevity, strength, movement and all-round robust physical preparedness.
Now if you’re reading this and want to get stuck into kettlebell training please take the time to find someone who can coach you how to use the kettlebell properly. I’m not talking about the type of kettlebell training where you’re drawing pretty pictures in the air with a pink fluffy kettlebell, holding it whilst throwing some questionable dance moves, and having a little mothers’ meeting whilst performing what is supposed to be some form of squat. Find someone who can teach you proper hard-style kettlebell techniques and takes the time to reinforce proper mechanics.
Yours in strength