Becoming More Excellent Everyday
Add a Kettlebell to Make Yourself the Fitness Industry’s Most Efficient Machine
A New Year and a Renewed You
The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself when used properly. Too many of us—yes, I am including myself—do not use our bodies enough or misuse them. Too many hours at our desks, in front of the TV, and hunched over our phones have left our bodies broken and neglected. Add to that the modern American diet, long work hours, and the stress induced by work, family, and a 24-hour news cycle and there is even more working against your body and peace of mind.
A Simple Solution
How best to deal with all this misuse, abuse, and stress? My answer is not a surprise to my peers from school who quickly came to recognize me as “the kettlebell guy”. In my years since as a personal trainer that has not changed.
You simply cannot go wrong implementing a 20-40-minute kettlebell workout into your daily life.
What is a Kettlebell?
Before I delve into all the reasons why it is your most important fitness tool, just what the heck is a kettlebell?
Many have described a kettlebell as being a cast iron cannonball with a handle. Beyond that there are two different styles of kettlebell.
The first is the Girya, or competition style, which remains at the same size regardless of the weight of the kettlebell. The difference is managed with the materials used.
The more common type is the Russian kettlebell. These are a single cast iron piece and the size increases with the weight of the kettlebell.
Why a Kettlebell?
There are many reasons why a kettlebell will become so invaluable toward your health and fitness. Without sounding too much like the infamous Band Camp Girl let’s look at some of those reasons.
Make the World Your Gym!
Because of its compact nature you can get a kettlebell workout in just about anywhere. Take it to the park, the beach, or home for the holidays. There is no need to limit yourself to the home or the gym and miss out on some healthy Vitamin D.
Big Bang for the Buck
Compared to a monthly gym fee, a squat rack, barbell, bumper plates, or fancy machine for home use a kettlebell is very inexpensive and will never be used to hang clothes on.
Discover and Hone Your Athleticism
Machines train you how to use machines. Kettlebells train you in how to use your body while developing skills that transfer more readily to everyday demands. You will learn to generate power and muster strength to overcome the constantly changing center of gravity produced by the kettlebell’s design.
Greater Cardio Impact Without the Impact on Your Joints
Kettlebell workouts challenge your heart rate not just your strength. They are a great way to enhance your regular cardio or replace it altogether. Plus, you will get the same results without the harsh impact of too much running.
With a kettlebell you are swinging a cannonball in your living room. If you’re not paying attention it can go flying into the TV or through a window. Exercises like the kettlebell Windmill and Turkish Get-Up require intense concentration that allows little else to crawl into your brain. If you’re worrying about your workday, the kids, or thinking about your post-workout meal you are likely to hurt yourself. More likely though, you just won’t get the maximum benefit from your workout.
Because it requires more concentration and precision a kettlebell workout creates less risk than dumbbells or barbells. Again, you do not have room for stress and the to-do while working out and it is far easier to zone out using machines, even a heavy barbell than the high-speed ballistic exercises in a kettlebell program.
Consistent Structure to Your day
Daily workouts are possible due to simple modification. It is part of the reason I always recommend beginners purchase two kettlebells. One to learn the movements and for “off days”, the heavier to train the movements. With kettlebells it’s difficult to exhaust yourself so much that you can’t move the next day. Kettlebell athletes rarely complain about leg day the day after.
Plus, even without using the kettlebell your warmup and mobility can always be done!
Better Results in Less Time
Most people will be able to contribute to their fitness goals with a 20-40-minute kettlebell workout 2-4 times a week. This is true whether you’re looking to burn fat, increase strength, or improve athleticism. Even if you’re looking to increase muscle size a kettlebell workout is a great supplemental program to maintain mobility and ward away next day soreness.
It’s Fun, Remember Fun?
There are so many varied moves you can do with a kettlebell that one exercise can flow into another into another. It is easy to cultivate a feeling of play with the kettlebell while still developing your strength and increasing your mobility.
Concerns and Risks of Kettlebell Training
I’m having a hard time with this section but feel it is only fair to write something here. I can only think of only one risk factor.
Training Right Requires Proper Instruction
Exercises like the Swing, the Clean, the Snatch, Windmill, and Turkish Get Up are all simple to perform once learned. But, if you’re not learning them properly you are risking some hurt.
The Swing requires a stable back, the movement originates at the hips. Too many people bend at the waist and then complain about lower back pain.
Your back should never experience pain while performing the Kettlebell Swing. In fact, physical therapists recommend the Swing for their patients with lower back pain as a means of teaching proper posture.
A qualified personal trainer is your best source for knowledge and technique. Yes, there are many YouTube videos, websites, and books with instruction on proper kettlebell technique and the exercises to better prepare you for your workouts.
However, a personal trainer has their eye on you and only you. They will be able to inform you of where you need to improve and when you’ve refined your technique and are able to progress toward the next skill challenge.
Incorporating kettlebells into your fitness routine or making them the sole equipment you use will ensure you’re fit for life.
A bold statement but one I can defend.
All kettlebell instruction begins with the Swing and the health benefits of that single exercise are usually felt within your first set of Swings. It’s a simple exercise to perform and helps clients become more aware of the latent power within their body. I have experienced that moment of awakening on clients’ faces when they finally get it.
That moment creates even greater energy to drive those clients toward other feats they were unaware they could accomplish.
Learn a few kettlebell skills and should you lapse into old habits your kettlebell will still be readily available for your use. Even after months of neglect your skills with the kettlebell will return assuming you learned them correctly before your lapse.
For such reasons I always recommend keeping two kettlebells in your home. One as your learning tool, the other for training once technique is properly developed. From there your collection may grow as your new cultivated skills create greater strength and you start craving more challenge.