Modern kettle bells are not really that different to the original Russian cannonballs with handles from 300+ years ago. They are generally sold in fixed weights but some manufacturers have designed adjustable kettle bells to save you having to buy a lot of different ‘bells.
Most kettle bell exercises have a strong core emphasis as holding a single weight means that you have to use your deep abdominal muscles to stabilize your torso and keep yourself upright. Kettle bell training is a highly beneficial type of exercise that can boost your cardiovascular fitness, help you lose weight, strengthen your muscles and much more.
This means if you’re training at home, you’ll have to invest in a new kettle bell every time your strength improves. Since kettle bell instructors hold very specific qualifications, they charge a higher price per hour than regular personal trainers.
The kettle bell is constantly in motion around your body and training with poor form places a great amount of pressure on your back and your joints and makes serious injuries very likely. So if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey and considering the potential exercise options that are available to you, ketlebell training isn’t something that should be on your list.
One final disadvantage of kettle bells compared with other fitness options is the steep learning curve. While kettle bell training does have its disadvantages, many of these can be avoided by putting some time in to learn the proper form and technique.
Once you’ve become proficient at exercising with kettle bells, you’ll find that it’s a fun, enjoyable form of fitness training with many benefits and very few drawbacks. Hollywood's hotties such as Matthew McConaughey and Vanessa Huygens include kettle bells in their gym routines to get strong, but these orb-shaped weights aren't reserved for the rich and famous.
Kettle bell workouts enable fitness enthusiasts and athletes to develop power while burning lots of calories. The kettle bell swing, for example, requires you to hold your spine in neutral, to engage your abs and to drive through your hips as you work with the bell's momentum.
You may feel humbled by the slow speed and low weight you must use at first to simply master proper techniques. The dynamic nature of many kettle bell exercises may put you at a higher risk for back, shoulder, knee, neck or arm problems.
Usually, injury comes when proper form is disregarded or fatigue sets in -- so avoid doing kettle bell exercises to absolute failure. If your core isn't engaged during kettle bell work, you may try to use more of your shoulders and upper body to execute the exercises, which can overload these areas.
You may also experience non-debilitating discomfort, such as blisters on your hands from too tight a grip or bruises on your forearms and wrists from out-of-control snatches. Grab a kettle bell in your first week of training and start doing snatches like you’ve seen other more seasoned kettle bell enthusiasts perform with ease, and you’re playing with fire, there is no doubt you’re going to get hurt.
The same applies to grabbing a barbell in your first week of training and start snatching it like you’re in the CrossFit Games, you’re going to get hurt. This fact doesn’t change whether you take a dumbbell, tax, sandbag, fit ball or anything else, you need to respect the tool, treat it with care and progress from step one.
*I throw the “Assisted single-arm clean” in very early, as I like my students to get familiar with the corkscrew motion, dealing with the proper weight distribution of the kettle bell to avoid pressure on the forearm, which is not dealt with early-on hinders progression at the stage of racking, cleaning and pressing. Yes if you start doing weird things that you should not be doing or your body is just not ready for, otherwise, no they’re not bad for your shoulders, they’re amazing for shaping your shoulders, creating better range of motion, making them stronger and resilient to injury.
The people that ask these questions either have participated in a kettle bell class with a cowboy trainer teaching or heard their friend complain about their back who just started swinging the bell while watching the Julian Michael's version on YouTube. I would lie if I said I never seen anyone get injured during kettle bell training, I’ve never seen serious injury from a kettle bell, I have seen people out for a week because they did not listen to the weight suggested to them, they did not listen when the coach said, take a step back, regress and learn the hip hinge first.
A high-pressure urban lifestyle, coupled with sitting for long hours at desks and in cars or public transportation, can lead to poor posture, muscular imbalances and bad habits in moving. The kettle bell can help individuals cope with stress and enable them to get in shape in less time, and with little or no equipment.
“The goal of most women is to gain adequate strength to do their daily activities, such as carrying something or lifting their children. The kettle bell is for toning, burning fat, increasing lean tissue and keeping joints mobile so there’s no low back pain.
Combined with Pilates or yoga, it will make their fitness program more holistic,” said Cotter. The kettle bell workout combines the benefits of weight training and aerobic conditioning.
“In the conventional model, people would do weight resistance to increase bone density and muscle toning and then the aerobics for cardiovascular fitness. “With kettle bells, we combine weight resistance for strength training and muscle-shaping qualities and anaerobic conditioning because it can be intense,” he pointed out.
COORDINATED with breathing, this body-mind exercise strengthens the spine and opens the chest. Unlike in bodybuilding or weightlifting, in which the exercises move in straight lines, the kettle bell is swung in different directions that follow the body’s natural movement patterns. We utilize this inertia to keep moving with the kettle bell in a rhythmic cadence.
Consequently, what would take two hours on the treadmill or bicycle and going through all the barbells and dumbbells can be accomplished in less than 40 minutes with the kettle bell. “It is becoming popular among women because it builds lean muscle tissue and works a lot on the rear end.
You swing it between your legs and it’s tremendous for working, toning and strengthening the hamstrings and the butt,” said Cotter. This exercise strengthens the back and abdominal while strengthening the shoulder and relieving stress.
For the upper body, the shoulder press works the triceps, the muscles around the shoulder, the upper chest and back more than repetitive raising dumbbells on the side or the tricep push down on the pulley machine. When you use your body, you use the core musculature so you’ll be working on the abs and the lower back.
These three basic movements of the squat, standing press and dead lift exercise the whole body.” As the upper arms slacken with age, Cotter recommended the overhead press with the kettle bell which activates the triceps and shoulders.
Cotter observed that the middle-age spread or thickening of the waist is sometimes addressed with the conventional side bends. “Muffin tops occur as we age because the body’s metabolism slows down.
The most effective way to keep the metabolic rate high is to create heat in the body and burn calories more even when we are at rest. Cotter’s system integrates Eastern methods such as breathing and meditative movements with Western sports and strength conditioning.
“Deep breathing in the beginning enables us to relax and focus… Awareness of how we use our body through space and cultivate graceful movements are combined with strength-building exercises. As a frequent traveler, Cotter has to adjust to different time zones and teach all day.