Kettlebells – are they your best friend, or your worst enemy? Well, the answer to this question depends on how you use them. When it comes to any exercise, one thing should be at the top of everyone’s list. You are intrigued, right? What could it be? I am hoping you all had the same answer, which of course is technique.
In order to get the best out of any exercise, it is imperative that it is performed correctly. The correct posture, the correct breathing pattern and the correct weight. This is THE only way to ensure longevity in your training. This mindset is even more important when it comes to kettlebells.
So let’s see what exactly these oddly shaped life changers are all about and why kettlebell training at home is so important.
What are Kettlebells?
A kettlebell is a cast iron (sometimes vinyl) ball, with a handle attached to the top. Kettlebells are finally being recognised as an important exercise tool. However, they are still being under used.
They can be used for strength and power training, ballistic exercises, flexibility training and weight lifting. Such a versatile piece of equipment, that is ideal for home exercise use.
They were first used by Russian farmers, to weigh crops in the 18th century. Then in the 19th century, they were used by circus strongmen, as a visual aid to show strength. Then in the late 19th century, the kettlebell was used for competition strength training. This is where it all began.
Why Use Kettlebells?
I think that a better question is “why not use kettlebells?”. As aforementioned, kettlebells are an extremely versatile piece of equipment. Not only can they be stored anywhere, due to their size, but they can be used to achieve any exercise goal.
Kettlebells can help you to pack on muscle, whilst increasing your cardiovascular fitness. You can use them for short bursts, or long training sessions. They are specifically designed to implement functional training. Functional training is something that mimics day to day life. Many people train with machines and equipment that do not mirror everyday life.
Kettlebells are an extremely underused and underrated piece of equipment. Most gyms have them gathering dust in the corner. When people do come across them, they do not know what to do with them. Remember, as Mr. Schwarzenegger said “the muscle does not see what you are holding in your hand”.
If used correctly, kettlebells can not only improve your functional movements, but they will take you to a level of strength and fitness that other methods would not allow you to achieve. Although they can be superheroes, do not turn them into villains. Make sure you use them correctly. Use them in the wrong way and they will bite!
Why I Use Kettlebells – My Experience
When I first started training, all I wanted to do was pack on muscle, to impress everyone. It was all about superficial ego training. However, as the years went on, I got injured due to this mistraining and mindset. This is when a good friend of mine introduced me to kettlebells.
My first kettlebell session was at a gym, where I was shown the kettlebell swing. My friend made it look easy but when I tried it, it was anything but.
Luckily I have good coordination, and am able to pick things up quickly so I was able to develop my technique rapidly. I quickly learned the key to lifting kettlebells is patience and control.
Using Kettlebells at Home
The more I used kettlebells, the more impressed I became. Performing movements, such as the clean and press, deadlift and the snatch are very difficult to master, when using barbells. However, using kettlebells, these movements become a lot easier to perform, and a lot safer.
Olympic exercises, such as the clean and press, deadlift and the snatch require explosive movement. They are wonderful exercises when performed with the correct technique. However, if technique falters, you are in danger of obtaining a very serious injury.
Although, movements such as the barbell clean and press can be done at home, you need adequate space for storage and enough room to perform the movement correctly.
This is where the kettlebell comes into its own. Even a 30kg kettlebell would only take a minimal amount of space. Not only are they storage friendly, but they can help you build strength and power relatively quickly.
You master the technique for as long as it takes, then increase the weight, as you get stronger. On top of this, their design means that they are easy to move around. Gone are the days of trying to pick a weight plate off the floor…ouch, finger pinch!
Another great advantage of using kettlebells at home, is that there is no need for a bench to perform movements such as the chest press. This can be performed on the floor.
Since I began training in the comfort of my own home, I quickly realised that the kettlebell was the main piece of equipment that I needed build my routine around. Now my training sessions involve using kettlebells and resistance bands (the latter I will be discussing in another post).
Finding the Right Balance
After being taught how to use kettlebells, I found that they were much better suited to me than dumbbells. Yes, dumbbells have a place in any routine, however the control needed when lifting a kettlebell, means that you incorporate smaller muscles, when performing a movement.
For example, the balance of a dumbbell is even. So when you are performing an exercise, such as the shoulder press, you are mainly incorporating the primary muscle – in this case, the deltoids.
However, when you perform the same exercise with a kettlebell, you have less control, due to the balance being uneven. This incorporates the shoulder stabilising muscles (the rotator cuff) and in turn, leads to obtaining more strength and stability in the long run.
The Ultimate Home Exercising Tool
Overall, if you already have, or are currently building your own home gym, I would definitely recommend investing in a set of kettlebells. However, find a qualified kettlebell instructor, to teach you the correct technique. I have seen so many people lifting kettlebells with poor technique, and believe me when I say, you will regret it!
Once you have been taught how to use them, start off with a very light weight, master your lifts and swings and then increase the weight. You will experience mind blowing results. You will get into the SWING of things before you know it!
Just to put it in to perspective, consider the kettlebell as the Christiano Ronaldo of the exercise equipment world. This has been truly earned!
If you have any questions or comments in regard to this post, please let me know below. I would be more than happy to answer any questions and/or reply to any feedback. Thank you.