Many of the movements and skills required in CrossFit focus on learning to have fast and effective hips. Dumbbells have a tight center of gravity and mainly utilize the major muscle groups.
A kettle bell ’s odd shape and off-center mass forces you to use muscles that mimic real-life activities. Its odd center of gravity forces you to do more work involving your stabilizing muscles to create explosive movements with the bell.
Enjoy the ease of use and appreciate that such a unique weight can help streamline other exercises you already do. Always practice correct form and safety in all exercises, but be content in the fact the kettle bell is one of the safer weights to work with.
If you have previously been avoiding barbell exercises due to safety concerns, look into the kettle bell alternatives. The kettle bell alternates periods of intense contraction and controlled relaxation, to give you a superior workout that combines strength, as well as endurance.
Other exercises such as the windmill, and single leg dead lift, also build flexible strength. The kettle bell stimulates tremendous abdominal contraction because of the explosive conditioning movements.
The fact you can work your core indirectly, just through the dynamic aspect of kettle bells, is truly amazing. They enable you to increase your strength, build up speed as well as your endurance level at the same time.
This gives you a great strength and endurance workout in a shorter amount of time. So rather than moving on to a heavier kettle bell you simply complete more reps or change the exercise to a more difficult option.
If you find yourself becoming bored with traditional exercises or having to be in the gym, consider using kettle bells. This is especially valued by physical therapists because kettle bells actually teach you to move in a way that is better, stronger, and safer.
Unfortunately, many of us today lose some of our basic movements as a result of sedentary occupations and lifestyles. That’s what happens when we don’t move our bodies with the full range of motion or become used to certain unhealthy postures (like sitting in front of a computer all day).
They are terrific for overall fat loss, improving lean body mass, and helping teach proper use of the hips (important for speed and power sports). They are so effective that serious lifters should definitely consider them as a way to enhance and supplement their barbell or dumbbell workouts.
They can decimate body fat, develop intense hip drive, and can seriously improve your metabolic conditioning. But before we dive into answering this question more fully, let’s first define what good means within the world of fitness and exercise.
Good : Description of an exercise that does no bodily harm, and effectively increases progress toward one’s goal. Question #1: Are kettle bell swings good for helping you fight pirates on the high seas? Answer: Hmm, hard to say, but my guess is that they could be.
Question #2: Are kettle bell swings good for decimating body fat, building strength and hip drive that even “The Mountain” would be jealous of, and increasing your met con abilities? Question #3: Are kettle bell swings good for playing running back in the NFL? Answers #2 and #3: Ah, now we are starting to get somewhere. We’ll take a global look at the kettle bell swing first, then dive into the more nitty-gritty of the 3 examples above.
When it comes to blow-torching fat right off your body, I’ll put the kettle bell swing up against any other single exercise in existence. A simple workout made up of kettle bell swings, plank, and jump rope will be more of a challenge than it appears on paper, and downright effective.
You see, kettle bell swings, specifically of the heavy variety, develop tremendous hip power. Heavy kettle bell swings can certainly be used to help ratchet up your dead lift numbers.
And, if you simply want to maintain your dead lift numbers for a while, to focus on developing a different aspect of fitness, heavy swings are your answer. So, the answer to the question of “are kettle bell swings good for building strength” is, it depends. But, for big hip dominant exercises, like the dead lift, heavy swings are a great strength building option.
Will the kettle bell swing help you land a 7-figure salary as an NFL running back? On the one hand, your skill as a football player is the ultimate factor determining whether you make the NFL.
So, kettle bell swings probably aren’t your answer. But… the ability to run fast is highly important for playing in the NFL. And… kettle bell swings have been shown to increase net horizontal force production and power.
Since increasing speed is all about power output at the hips, this is important to note, especially for anyone training running fast (or, faster than they currently do). So, while kettle bell swings probably aren’t THE answer to you NFL aspirations, they can definitely help you run faster than you currently do now.
Which, in turn, could possibly be the difference maker on whether you get to play on the big screen for millions of dollars. Are quite possibly the single best exercise for aggressive fat loss, leaning down quick, and placing eyeballs on your six-pack.
In closing, it’s fair to say that the kettle bell swing is highly effective exercise to have in your workout arsenal. However, the answer to the question, “are kettle bell swings good” really depends on the goal you are trying to achieve.
After writing this article, I have in fact decided that kettle bell swings will DEFINITELY make you better at fighting pirates of the high seas. Despite their simplicity, kettle bells are one of the most useful and versatile tools any fitness enthusiast can have.
A study on ballet dancers by the University of Paul in Italy tried to find out if the kettle bell swing can increase balancing ability. The researchers divided the participants into two groups: one that trained using ordinary exercises, and the other followed a kettle bell swing routine.
By the end of the study, the researchers found that the group that did the kettle bell swing regularly increased their balance. Building your body’s endurance enables you to run faster, function better, heal quickly and even have a better heartbeat.
Apart from proper form, the efficiency of performing a kettle bell swing also depends on your breathing. Having the right breathing pattern helps you increase the force and speed when doing the swing.
This breathing pattern engages your diaphragm; this, in turn, helps improve your lung efficiency. The extra work your abdominal muscles and latissimus Doris do, help in strengthening your core causing your abs to develop in the process.
This enables your body to burn more calories even after you complete your workout, which eventually leads to weight loss. The kettle bell swing incorporates different types of exercises, and this helps every muscle group in the body.
Experts recommend that the kettle bell swing workout should be done twice or thrice a week. They not only offer numerous benefits, but they also incorporate multiple exercises in every swing.
When I finally decided to purchase my first 16 kg kettle bell to see how this tool could possibly help me, I was blown away. I was even more blown away when I took my first workshop taught by a phenomenal, high level ROC Instructor (Andrea Duane).
Is this type of training really any different from a dumbbell or other gym exercises?” Every time I’m asked that question, I start to feel the passion build and I have to contain myself. As Tracy Ranking, ROC and author of the great book The Swing puts it, it’s a two-for-one exercise.
It combines the benefits of resistance training and cardiovascular conditioning in one very powerful exercise. Ballistics are fast, explosive movements, while grinds are slow and deliberate.
This means you get total body strengthening and conditioning with one single tool. Virtually every fitness goal you want could be accomplished with a kettle bell, but don’t mistake me saying that this is the only thing you should do.
While I still use body weight exercises and barbell programs, kettle bells are an essential part of my training and what I teach today because they offer better results in less time. This is something I feel very strong about as a former physical therapist, because kettle bells actually teach you to move in a way that is better, stronger, and safer.
Unfortunately, many of us today lose some of our basic movements as a result of sedentary occupations and lifestyles. That’s exactly what happens when we don’t move with full range of motion or become habituated to certain postures (like sitting all day at a computer).
I’ve had many clients say how well they move and function again, after learning how to perform this exercise correctly. The best way to get started is to find a certified instructor and get qualified instruction from the beginning, if you can.
For total body strengthening and conditioning, kettle bells are definitely a very special fitness and performance training tool to incorporate into your program. A 16-kilogram (35 lb) “competition kettle bell Arthur Saxon with a kettle bell, cover of The Text Book of Weight-Lifting (1910)The Russian girl (, plural girl) was a type of metal weight, primarily used to weigh crops in the 18th century.
They began to be used for recreational and competition strength athletics in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century. The birth of competitive kettle bell lifting or Gregory sport ( ) is dated to 1885, with the founding of the “Circle for Amateur Athletics” ( ).
Russian girl are traditionally measured in weight by Food, corresponding to 16.38 kilograms (36.1 lb). The English term kettle bell has been in use since the early 20th century.
Similar weights used in Classical Greece were the halter, comparable to the modern kettle bell in terms of movements. Variants of the kettle bell include bags filled with sand, water, or steel shot.
By their nature, typical kettle bell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength. The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.
Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettle bell exercises involve large numbers of repetitions in the sport, and can also involve large reps in normal training. Kettle bell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks.
When training with high repetitions, kettle bell progression should start out slowly to build muscle endurance, support the joints and prevent injury. Like movements performed with any exercise tool, they can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems, or a weak core, when performed without proper education and progression.
They can offer improved mobility, range of motion, agility, cardio vascular endurance, mental toughness and increased strength. The following is a list of common exercises that are uniquely suited to the kettle bell for one reason or another.
A kettle bell exercise that combines the lunge, bridge and side plank in a slow, controlled movement. Keeping the arm holding the bell extended vertically, the athlete transitions from lying supine on the floor to standing, and back again.
As with the other slow exercises (the windmill, get-up, and halo), this drill improves shoulder mobility and stabilization. It starts lying on the ground with the kettle bell over the shoulder in a straight arm position, as in the top of a floor press, but with the other arm along the floor straight overhead.
The trainee then gradually turns their body away from the kettle bell until they are lying partially on their front. The kettle bell is held hanging in one arm and moved smoothly around the body, switching hands in front and behind.
Also called a front leg pass, this is a backward lunge, circling the bell around the front leg, returning to the standing position, and repeating. Like the slingshot, but the bell is swung forward until the arms are parallel to the ground.
Starting with the bell in the rack, the bell is pushed away to the side slightly, the swung down to the other side in front of the body, and reversed back up into the rack. A variation of the press where the other arm assists by pushing open palm against the ball.
Stand on one leg and hold the kettle bell with the opposite arm. By then lowering and raising the kettle bell you can work stabilization and power.
A press utilizing a bent-leg windmill position to lift heavier weight than is otherwise possible. One bell is rowed to the chest while maintaining the plank position, then returned to the ground and repeated with the other arm.
Alternatively performed with a single kettle bell, one arm at a time. This requires more control than an ordinary push up and results in a greater range of motion.
Feet may be elevated to increase the difficulty, until the trainee is performing a handstand push-up on the kettle bells. In any movement involving the rack or overhead position, the kettle bell can be held with the ball in an open palm (sometimes called the waiter hold) for a greater stabilization challenge, or for even more precise control and added grip challenge, the bottom-up hold, squeezing the kettle bell by the handle upside-down.
Holding a single kettle bell in the rack position bottom-up with two hands (“by the horns”) makes for goblet exercise variants. Conventional swing: The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell.
Hang clean: The kettle bell is held in the rack position (resting on the forearm in the crook of the elbow, with the elbow against the chest), lowered to below the knees, and then thrust back up in to the rack. The kettle bell is held in one hand, lowered to behind the knees via hip hinge, swung to an overhead position and held stable, before repeating the movement.
Jerk: As a push press, but with two dips, for more leg assistance (as in the barbell clean and jerk) Thruster: A rack squat with a press at the top using momentum from the squat. Pistol squat: A single-leg squat with one leg held straight in front parallel to the ground, holding the bell in the goblet or rack position.
An easier variant for those with less hip mobility is to perform the squat parallel to a step or ledge, so that the foot of the free leg can dip beneath the pushing leg at the bottom. Carry: Walking with the kettle bell held in various positions, such as suitcase, rack, goblet, or overhead.
Row: While bent over anywhere from 45 degrees to parallel with the ground, the kettle bell is held hanging from a straight arm, pulled up to the hips or laterally, and lowered again. Keeping the bell arm vertical, the upper body is bent to one side and rotated until the other hand is touching the floor.
The single kettle bell version is called the suitcase walk. These build grip strength while challenging your core, hips, back and traps.
The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell. The key to a good kettle bell swing is effectively thrusting the hips, not bending too much at the knees, and sending the weight forwards, as opposed to squatting the weight up, or lifting with the arms.
The one-arm swing presents a significant anti-twisting challenge, and can be used with an alternating catch switching between arms. Within those variations there are plenty more variations, some are, but not limited to: pace, movement, speed, power, grip, the direction of thumb, elbow flexion, knee flexion.
The kettle bell has more than 25 grips that can be employed, to provide variety, challenge different muscles, increase or decrease complexity, and work on proprioception. Competitive lifter (Greek) performing jerk with 32 kg kettle bells (rack position). Contemporary kettle bell training is represented basically by five styles.
Hard style has its roots in powerlifting and Gj-rykarate training, particularly hobo undo concepts. With emphasis on the “hard” component and borrowing the concept of time, the Hard style focuses on strength and power and duality of relaxation and tension.
Gregory, sometimes referred to as the fluid style in comparison to the Hard style, represents the training regimen for the competitive sport of kettle bell lifting, focusing on strength endurance. Juggling is a training style where the practitioner releases and catches the kettle bell with all manner of spins and flips around the body.
Kettle bell training is extremely broad and caters to many goals, some being, but not limited to: mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed and power. The sport can be compared to what the CrossFit Games is to CrossFit, however, the sport has been much longer in existence, and is only recently gaining more popularity worldwide, with women participating as well.
One such example being Valerie Wazowski, who at age 52, was the first US female lifter in the veteran age category to achieve Master of Sport in 24 kg Kettle bell Long Cycle. ^ , «» .
« » “ ”, 22 August 2016 (with period photographs). 21 (1908), p. 505: “PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE USING SCHMIDT'S Celebrated 'MONARCH' DUMB-BELL, BAR BELL AND KETTLE BELL SYSTEM”; also spelled KETTLE-BELLS (with hyphen) in a 1910 advertisement for the “Automatic Exerciser”) ^ a b c Rathbone, Andy (2009-01-04).
Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 542-544 ^ a b Iv ill, Laura (2008-11-22). “Exclusive ACE research examines the fitness benefits of kettle bells” (PDF).
Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 125-127 ^ Kettle bell Swing Vs. High Pull”. ^ “The Kettle bell Clean, Stop Banging Your Wrists | The Complete Guide”.
Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine; instead he will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, nutrition and the cause and prevention of disease.” 1 This is important because for those with lower back issues traditional posterior chain exercises such as dead lifts, good mornings, etc.
For those looking to strengthen the lower back and unable to use these traditional exercises the swing may be just the thing they’re looking for. Because of the dynamic nature of the swing the opportunity to overload or injure the body is quite low.
The rapid acceleration of the bell via the motion of the hips and knees is accompanied by substantial activation of muscles in both the posterior chain and the abdominal. They proposed the muscle flushing mechanism as an explanation for the reports of lower pain.
Now, sniff air into your belly through your nose and then exhale short and sharp like you’re trying to blow out a candle far away. But when you use forceful exhalation, known in ROC circles as power breathing, you are essentially creating a stiff wall around that flagpole to keep it stiffer.
Using the Cassava maneuver creates a dynamic internal pressure that I believe supercharges the cerebral-spinal fluid flow. The INTERCAL pressure is greatly increased when you add movement to the Cassava maneuver.
Cerebral-spinal fluid is pumped or controlled by respiration that causes movement in the sacrum and cranial bones. I believe that the spinal curves must be correctly maintained or the flow of information in the nervous system is compromised.
In order to do the Kettle bell swing correctly I really had to work on my form and this had an incredible influence on establishing the proper robotic and kyphotic curvatures of my spine. Set up as if you were doing a conventional two hand swing: hips back shoulders down, lats engaged, connected and linked to the bell.
The key principle of Hard style Kettle bell training is that, to quote Pavel, “We choose power over efficiency, choosing maximal acceleration in the quick lifts and maximum tension in the grinds.” If we’re looking to the swing to be our one size fits all solution to back care then we must recognize that, for many, swinging the bell overhead is impossible without hyper extending the lower back or jamming the neck or shoulders due to limitations in their thoracic mobility.
The swing is an expression of forward force projection such as found in boxing or martial arts, like a straight punch. If you’re an athlete with a vertical component to your sport such as in Olympic weightlifting, Highland Games, or even swimming, then try the snatch.
Picking the right tool for the job will go a long way to ensuring your back stays healthy and strong for years to come! This article is not intended to sway you into using over the other, but to point out some considerations to take into account when employing kettle bells and dumbbells.
Photo By Marina / Shutterstock To fully understand the context of when to employ the dumbbell and kettle bell in training, then it’s a good idea to first breakdown some key differences between them. However, without a deeper knowledge of weight displacement, strength curves, application to training, and biomechanics, then the physical differences don’t really mean much.
Center of mass of these two implements is important to understand because it has the potential to shift the stress of the external load being put on the desired muscle and joint with the exercise of choosing. The reason center of mass matters for implement selection is based on different exercise’s strength curves.
A strength curve entails how an exercise changes in difficulty through different ranges of motion. Take bands or a machine on a preacher curl for example, they provide a constant tension throughout the full range of motion, which will differ from a dumbbell’s strength curve slightly due to gravity playing a role on the movement’s difficulty at various points.
Thus, strength curves will vary based on the muscle and joints being used, along with the range of motion they’re working through and the implement chosen. Their center of mass is different, so the way in which they create difficulty for various exercises in certain ranges of motion will vary slightly.
An interesting example of the above in research comes from a study published in 2018 that compared Egg activity of the anterior deltoid and pectoralis major when subjects performed either a seated dumbbell overhead press or a seated kettle bell overhead press. Upon their analysis, researchers suggested that the dumbbell overhead press had slightly higher anterior deltoid Egg than the kettle bell while the pectoralis major was similar in both exercises.
Authors speculated that the difference in the anterior deltoid potentially had to do with the alignment of the dumbbell and kettle bell and how this might have affected the primary movers in the overhead press. This difference could have been the reason that the dumbbells produced more muscle activity than the kettle bell, as its load was more direct and consistent on the primary movers of the overhead press.
Similar to the strength component above, kettle bells and dumbbells both have the potential to help improve a lifter’s power. Generally speaking, power-based training will include dynamic movements and exercises will require higher velocities.
Lysenko Ego/Shutterstock Movements like the kettle bell swing, clean & jerk, and snatch are all exercises that can be programmed for the adaptation of power that the dumbbell falls slightly short on. For athletes trying to improve power, then generally speaking, the kettle bell will be a friendlier option to do so based on its construction and ease of use.
The construction of a kettle bell and its traditional movements are useful for increasing the amount of work you can put in over a desired period of time. For cardio improvement, both dumbbells and kettle bells are great options and it comes down to the workout style being performed.
There are plenty of kettle bell and dumbbell complexes that are designed to improve cardiovascular fitness and the only limitation with this adaptation is one’s creativity with their training and flows. At the end of the day, the differences between kettle bells and dumbbells go out the window without quality programming t hat accounts for multiple training variables, exercise selection, and an individual’s goals and needs.
What matters most is quality programming that considers multiple factors that help direct lifters closer to their goals and needs. Beginners can train with kettle bells with no problem, however, it’s worth pointing out that form should take precedence of one’s focus when using them for the first few workouts.
Both dumbbells and kettle bells work great for developing strength, power, and cardiovascular fitness, and what matter most is the quality of their movements and programming. The kettle bell ’s handle is wider, so it fits two hands better and the weight is further from the body so it accommodates the swinging motion slightly better than what a dumbbell would do.