All that aside, kettle bell workouts also just didn’t seem necessary since I have dumbbells and resistance bands to cover lots of fitness routines. However, given the inherent difficulty of attending gyms right now with a face mask and the potential risk of exposure, I decided to shake things up and took the plunge: I ordered a kettle bell.
If you’re likewise looking for the best kettle bells to buy, you’ll quickly find lots of options and some might seem very similar to others. I’ve found a lot of value in even basic exercises, which challenged my body in gym-worthy ways, an especially significant value in workout gear as we head into winter.
Other fitness pros I talked to had predictably different takes on the best approach to equipping your home gym with kettle bells. Peter Bahia, director of personal training at Athletic Development and Performance Training, told me he realizes a kettle bell can be a substantial investment for some, but still considers it a unique piece of equipment that can build functional strength and improve range of motion — both worthwhile endeavors in the work from home reality many of us face.
It’s easy to use and ultimately gives you unrivaled flexibility with what weight size you want in your kettle bell given you have the appropriate dumbbells to match with it. Heidi Pocono, a personal trainer and manager of training at GYMGUYZ, recommends a vinyl coated cast iron kettle bell.
“This is my go-to piece of equipment, no matter where I’m training,” Pocono said, noting the “comfortable” cast iron handle glides smoothly in her hand whether she’s performing a kettle bell swing, snatch or a windmill. Former gym owner and personal trainer Alicia McKenzie said that a kettle bell is always one of the first pieces of equipment she recommends for anyone attempting to start a home gym — it took me more than eight months of in-home workouts to find the motivation to test a kettle bell.
I used the CAP brand when I owned a gym and their equipment can really take a beating,” McKenzie said. Are you worried about bringing such a heavy piece of equipment into your home and the associated risk of denting your floors?
“It is durable, can withstand general wear and tear — but most importantly, it isn't going to damage your home or hurt (as much) if you slam it into your foot.” The handle on this kettle bell is relatively large, too, which gives you plenty of grip space for two-handed movements like a kettle bell swing. Kettle bells challenge your balance because they change your center of gravity, turning regular exercises like lunges and squats difficult.
Kettle bells, which look like cannonballs with handles, have become a popular strength training alternative to traditional barbells, dumbbells, and resistance machines. Kettle bell exercises often involve several muscle groups at once, making them a highly effective way to give your arms, legs, and abs a great workout in a short amount of time.
Kettle bells can be used for a variety of exercises that improve both your strength and cardiovascular fitness. And, if you want to learn more about the benefits of working out with a kettle bell, we’ve got that covered, too.
Russian strongmen in the 1700s developed kettle bells as implements to build strength and endurance. You’ve probably seen depictions of bare-chested carnival strongmen hoisting them over their heads.
Using lighter kettle bells at first allows you to focus on using the proper form and technique for the different exercises. Fitness experts suggest using kettle bells with the following weights if you’re at an intermediate to advanced level with your strength training:
Aim to add more reps each week, then work toward adding more sets as you build strength. Push your hips backward, and bend your knees to reach the kettle bell handles.
Firmly grip the kettle bells, keeping your arms and back straight. This is an excellent exercise to boost both your muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.
While your shoulders and arms will do a lot of the work, most of the effort should come from the hips and legs. Engage your abdominal muscles and set your shoulders back.
Exhale as you make an explosive upward movement to swing the kettle bell out in front of you. Squats are an excellent lower-body exercise that work your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, as well as your abdominal muscles.
Slowly bend both knees so that your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Using your leg muscles, with your upper body still, straighten up to your starting position.
Alternatively, you can hold a kettle bell by the handle in one or both hands, with your arms at your sides. Slowly step forward with your left leg, bending your knee while keeping your right foot in place.
Make sure your left knee doesn’t extend over your toes. A great exercise for working your abs and obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen that run from your hips to your ribs), the Russian twist can also be done with a weighted medicine ball or barbell plate.
When using a kettle bell, be sure to keep a firm grip so that you don’t drop it on your lap. Holding the kettle bell handle with both hands, lean back so that your torso is at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
With your heels a few inches above the floor, rotate your torso from right to left, swinging the kettle bell slightly across your body. When you’ve completed your repetitions, return to your starting position.
When your chest is even with the kettle bell handles, exhale and push your body back up to its starting position. Hold a kettle bell by the handle so that it rests against the outside part of your shoulder.
There are many benefits to working out with kettle bells, for both men and women, across all age groups. According to a 2019 study, a kettle bell workout is a highly effective way to improve your strength, aerobic power, and overall physical fitness.
Compared to resistance circuit-based training, the same study found that a regular kettle bell workout is just as effective at improving cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength. A 2013 study reported that participants who completed an 8-week kettle bell training session saw noticeable improvements in their aerobic capacity.
Kettle bell exercises have the ability to restore muscle mass and improve grip strength in older adults, according to a 2018 study. According to Harvard Health, kettle bell exercises can also help improve your posture and balance.
You typically use your core muscles more with kettle bell exercises than with dumbbells or barbells. If possible, ask a certified personal trainer at your local gym or fitness center to show you the proper form for kettle bell exercises.
Stop immediately if you feel sudden or sharp pain. A little mild soreness after a workout is normal, but you shouldn’t feel sudden, sharp pain while working out.
Kettle bells can take a little getting used to, but working out with them is a highly effective way of improving your muscle strength and cardio fitness. The key is to start slow and, if possible, with the help of a certified personal trainer.