There is also an exercise called the Turkish get-up ”, where you repeatedly lie on the floor and stand up, keeping the kettle bell above your head at all times, which stopped being fun incredibly quickly. Tour any modern gym and you're bound to stumble upon a section littered with kettle bells.
It is unclear as to when kettle bells officially became a recognized tool for strength and conditioning, however it's estimated their history dates back over 300 years. Known as a “girl” in Russia, kettle bells were originally used to help balance scales while weighing crops.
The man most notable for Westernizing the kettle bell is Pavel Tsatsouline, chairman of Strongest Inc. and former PT drill instructor for Smetana. Tsatsouline's authored several books that outline simple but effective kettle bell training programs.
Entire workouts can be executed with nothing more than a single kettle bell, whether the aim is strength, hypertrophy, power or endurance. A kettle bell is relatively small (though I dare not say it's “light,” as that all depends on the weight you select) and relatively affordable in comparison to most other gym equipment.
Compared to training with machines or even dumbbells, the kettle bell provides variability and offsets the load so that no one rep is ever truly the same. Kettle bell exercises can at times be the biggest bang for your fitness buck, targeting numerous muscle groups and moving you through multiple planes of motion.
As Tsatouline writes in his book Simple & Sinister, “the kettle bell is an ancient Russian weapon against weakness.” Every piece of equipment brings something unique to the table, and every person is different, so it's foolish to speak in definitive.
Barbells make it easy for a newbie to load a movement heavier than they can handle in a fixed position. A perfect example is that of a Barbell Bench Press, where the hands are pronated and the shoulders are inherently placed in an internally rotated position.
Kettle bells are a great option to keep an individual's load lower while growing their movement competency. It targets the posterior chain and teaches individuals how to hip hinge properly with some force.
This exercise involves holding the kettle bell with both hands (although single-arm and double-bell variations do exist) and using the hip hinge to forcefully drive it out in front of yourself. Your gripping muscles may eventually burn if the set is long or enough or the weight's heavy enough, but your arms and shoulders should essentially contribute no power to the movement.
Once the Kettle bell Swing is mastered, it is an excellent addition to any program or a convenient stand-alone option for a conditioning day. Its goal is simple: Stand from a supine position while keeping a weight over your head.
However, that simple act requires a lot of technique, shoulder stability, core strength, hip mobility and focus to execute effectively. There are also many scenarios where replacing a classic barbell or dumbbell exercise with a kettle bell version can make sense.
It might seem like an insignificant swap, but kettle bells naturally lead to better scapular position, making the move more effective and reducing wear and tear on your body. Undoubtedly the kettle bell is an extraordinary tool with a long history of producing excellent results.
Kettle bells are easy to store, relatively inexpensive, and provide an efficient way to work nearly every part of the body in a short period of time. They ’re also great for supplementing movement rehabilitation work on a path toward injury recovery or performance improvement.
I’ve tested multiple kettle bells for this article, but to keep things simple I’m only listing the options that earned at least three stars and up. The finish on these kettle bells is extremely drippy with no seams or burrs anywhere on the handles or bodies, with a coating that feels like chalk to the touch.
Plus, I personally like the fact that these kettle bells are made in the USA by a small company. Rep Fitness doesn’t bundle shipping into the costs of their products, and their base pricing is very reasonable.
These kettle bells are a great value for the price, especially if you live close to Colorado to save on shipping costs. Rogue Fitness Powder Coat kettle bells are decent, but not standouts.
They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing. If you have large hands and prefer an aggressive grip, Rogue powder coat kettle bells could be the right option for you.
However, they don’t really stand out enough to differentiate them from the rest of the color-coded powder coat kettle bells I’ve tested. There are better options in terms of grip and finish, and the non-standard colors they use for weights drive me nuts.
Bottom line, don’t pay full price for Perform Better kettle bells. My review criteria is primarily centered on kettle bells I can use at home and at work with minimal need for chalk.
If you’re interested in diving deeper I’ve written a kettle bell buyer’s guide that answers every question I had when I first started. It also goes into detail on the criteria I look for, but the short version is a clean finish, a durable coating, and a properly sized handle.
Cast-iron kettle bells are widely available at many price points, which I consider to be a very good thing. There are a couple of companies making steel competition-style kettle bells aimed at the home fitness market, which offer the benefit of consistently sized kettle bells without incurring the usual steel competition cost.
I’ve developed several kettle bell workouts for the club, ranging in intensity from beginner to high-level intermediate. All of my workouts are documented on their own page and I plan to add to the list as time goes on.
If you prefer to follow along to instructor-led workouts, I also highly recommend the well-designed program put together by Kettle bell Kings via their new Living. Fit online platform. The Living. Fit programs include workouts for all levels of kettle bell enthusiasts, from beginner to expert.
He describes an experiment performed using a do-it-yourself kettle bell made from parts found in the plumbing section at Home Depot. According to Tim Ferris the parts are supposed to cost under $10, not counting the weight plates.
First, it takes the guesswork out of deciding what size kettle bell to buy for two hand work. I was able to experiment with different weights to find a starting point I was comfortable with, eventually settling on 20 kg (44lbs).
If you don’t already have a background lifting weights or being active, or if you are out of shape, consider working with a certified kettle bell trainer to get instructed in proper technique. Plumbing parts weren’t designed to sustain a dynamic load swinging in an arc.
I took this kettle bell outside on a hot Texas summer day to use for an Afterburner workout from my list of Kettle bell Club workouts, and I was able to keep hold of it without resorting to chalk despite my hands sweating like crazy. This is an important point because the factories where kettle bells are made are dirty, dusty places.
There’s lots of dust flying around that accumulates on the surface of the bells while they sit patiently waiting for paint. Perhaps unsurprisingly, very few companies take the extra step to clean the bells before paint because it adds time and expense to the process.
At the time I published this article, Kettle bell Kings is likely the only vendor taking this extra step, which results in a very durable coating. Most of the cheap kettle bells for sale on Amazon and other discount vendors fall into this category, I’ve even reviewed a few of them for this article.
If you’re unfamiliar with Create, it’s an extremely durable thin-film ceramic coating developed primarily for use as a protective finish for firearms. Create is extremely resistant to abrasion, corrosion and chemicals, and looks pretty cool at the same time.
In recent years a little fitness equipment companies have started offering create as a coating option for barbells. The create coating will cost a little extra, but the added durability means that kettle bell will last practically forever.
Since they ’re local to Austin I visited the Innit Academy Gym in person to buy a kettle bell to evaluate. It looks like it could take a decent amount of abuse from a careless shipper, but the lack of reinforcement straps around the box could be an issue if the kettle bell has to travel a long distance.
The finish on the Innit kettle bell is clean, although the textured coating is thick enough to potentially mask small imperfections. Aesthetically, there are spots on the kettle bell where I can see how the coating application ran down the handle and dried, similar to how spray paint drips when applied too thickly.
I thought maybe this was a fluke, so I intentionally banged the kettle bells together again with medium force and another chip flaked off. The coating chipped several more times during the testing period through normal use, mainly from getting bumped against other kettle bells.
It’s a small difference, but enough to force an adjustment of technique for exercises like the overhead snatch. Innit Labs kettle bells are a good budget option, but not the most durable of the bunch.
If you do buy these, take wonderful care of them because the finish is prone to chipping. The finish on the kettle bell is very clean, and although the casting seams are slightly visible on the body due to how thin an e-coating is, they are not prevalent on the handle at all.
The Matrix Elite Precision line of kettle bells have a reformulated e-coat intended to increase grip over a traditional e-coating. The unique aspect of Matrix Precision Elite kettle bell is the redesigned handle.
The increased height means the kettle bell will sit just a bit lower on the forearm rather than resting right on the wrist bones, which is more comfortable for some people. The reformulated e-coat is stickier than the e-coats on the Dragon Door and even the Matrix Classic line.
The friction is alleviated with light chalk use though, which is a small trade off for the durability and comfort the Matrix Elite Precision kettle bell provides. I ordered a kettle bell from Rogue last year, and it arrived damaged due to flimsy packaging.
This year, I’m happy to say they ’ve improved the packaging because I had no problem with my order this time around ? The finish on the Rogue kettle bell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it.
The powder coat on the Rogue kettle bells is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper. The handles of the Rogue kettle bells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands.
The price is good too, especially if you live close to Ohio and can take advantage of a lower shipping cost. They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing.
If you have large hands and prefer an aggressive grip, Rogue powder coat kettle bells could be the right option for you. CFF offers a full line of athletic equipment, including kettle bells.
The form-fitting foam is an extra level of protection that’s typically only used for shipping more costly competition steel kettle bells. The coating has a slightly aggressive texture, which works very well for maintaining grip without needing chalk.
The combination of finish and textured coating will hold a lot of chalk if needed. It’s clear to me a lot of thought went into the creation of the K2 and it shows in every aspect of the design and packaging.
I included Rep Fitness kettle bells in last year’s review, and they garnered four stars during testing. Not content with that, the folks at Rep Fitness have upped their game by improving on the issues I noted in the previous review.
The Rep Fitness kettle bells came well packed, with plenty of foam inserts and even bubble wrap on the 20 kg. Thankfully, I didn’t have to take him up on this but it’s nice to see this kind of focus on customer service.
The powder coating has a very smooth chalk-like texture that provides a decent amount of grip without the need for chalk. The coating is also really durable, these kettle bells have withstood several hard blows without chipping.
They offer an excellent value for the price, especially if you live close to Colorado and you can save on shipping. Fringe Sport is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in Austin Texas.
Since they ’re local, I paid them a visit to pick up a few of their Prime Kettle bells to review. Every Prime Kettle bell comes packaged in a form-fitting cardboard box and wrapped with reinforcement straps.
The finish on the Prime Kettle bells is clean and the bottoms are ground completely flat. The powder coat kettle bell is evenly applied and provides a decent amount of grip.
The grip the is on par with the majority of powder coat kettle bells I’ve tested, providing a smooth yet “drippy” texture. When I first got them, I was surprised at how much larger the handle diameters were when compared to similarly sized kettle bells from other vendors.
I’m not a tall guy (5’8”) and many of the people I work with in my kettle bell club are even shorter than I am, both men and women. The handles do run fairly thick though, so these are a great option for people with large hands.
Fringe Sport runs frequent sales, so if you’re patient you could score a pretty good deal on these. American Barbell is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in San Diego California.
Their barbells have a solid reputation in the home gym community, and they ’ve somewhat recently added kettle bells to their product lineup. American Barbell kettle bells have a very clean finish and a slightly textured coat.
The bottoms are ground flat and wider than most of the other options, making them a very stable base for exercises like renegade rows. The handle dimensions overall are on the thinner side of the spectrum, making these kettle bells very comfortable for use by people with smaller hands.
Price-wise, American Barbell powder coats are super-cheap, but that savings is offset by the cost of pricing. I ordered a 16 kg Titan Fitness kettle bell off Amazon, and I was shocked at how bad it was.
For starters, the Titan Fitness kettle bell shipped in a single cardboard box with no padding or reinforcement whatsoever. The Titan kettle bell is the absolute worst I’ve seen so far in terms of how bad the finish was.
I really don’t understand how a big-name fitness company could even think about putting their brand on a product like this. After contacting Titan customer service about a replacement and being told I wouldn’t be able to get one for two months, I simply sent it back.
It’s so bad it has the dubious honor of forcing me to create a ‘zero stars’ rating, because it’s completely unusable. The big draw is the price, I picked up a 35lb cast-iron kettle bell for $40 shipped, which is amazingly cheap.
The bottom is not ground completely flat and the coating is just a glossy black paint. I tried using it without any chalk and found that the tackiness made it more difficult for me to do snatches and cleans.
The handle diameter is on the larger side of the options tested, although I no longer have it available to measure. On the other hand, if saving money is your primary concern and you’re willing to sacrifice some quality, the Yes4All is hard to beat.
I know this because they ’ve started selling their own brand of Amazon Basics Kettle bells. The only difference between them is that the AmazonBasics kettle bell has no branding whatsoever, only the weight stamped on both sides.
Just don’t expect much for your money, since the Amazon Basics kettle bell is a cheaply made product. The bottom is not ground completely flat and the coating is just a glossy black paint.
Having said that, it’s still perfectly usable for swings, snatches, cleans, etc and I’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper option for someone that doesn’t want to spend much on a kettle bell. The tackiness of the paint makes it more difficult to do snatches and cleans with this kettle bell, but that’s nothing a light dusting of chalk on the handle can’t fix.
The handle diameter is on the larger side of the options tested, measurements will be added later. If saving money is your primary concern and you’re willing to sacrifice some quality, the Amazon Basics kettle bell is a decent option.
CAP introduced a new powder coat kettle bell into their product lineup sometime within the last couple of years, and I’m finally including it in the roundup. The finish on the CAP kettle bell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it.
The powder coat on the CAP kettle bell is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper. The handles of the CAP powder coat kettle bells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands.
CAP has been in business a long time as a provider of low-cost fitness equipment. I was learning how to perform the kettle bell snatch at the time I owned these, and the burrs kept digging into my palms during the transitions.
I toughed it out as long as I could but eventually used a metal file to smooth down the handle and make the bell a little more usable. I painted it with Mausoleum to try and stem further rust damage, which is why the kettle bell is colored brown in pictures.
The enamel finish on the large bell was extremely smooth and hard to hold once I broke a sweat. I don’t recommend CAP enamel coated or plain “cast iron” kettle bells for your home gym.
In fact, I actively recommend you stay away from them entirely because you will inevitably rue the day you purchased them. The recognition is reflected in the price because Dragon Door kettle bells are the most expensive option included in this review.
They don’t look great, but the coat on all of them is in okay shape considering they were stored year-round in a garage subject to three years of humid central Texas summers. The ROC kettle bells all have prevalent seams left over from the casting process on the handles.
These seams often pinched the skin of my palms, indicating a poor finishing and grinding process. That extra money is clearly not being invested back into quality control at Dragon Door.
In fact, several of the companies offer no guarantee whatsoever and will not accept a return at all unless your purchase is defective. I’m willing to give Dragon Door the benefit of the doubt and assume their newer kettle bells have a higher quality finish than what I currently own.
The best things Dragon Door ROC kettle bells offer is a 1-year satisfaction guarantee and a durable coating. However, given the quality of the competition these factors aren’t enough to offset their substantially higher cost.
Whatever it is, the coat provides just enough grip with low friction to allow for high rep work without needing chalk. The burrs only exist on the smaller kettle bells that I don’t use as much, which might be why they haven’t been an issue for me.
One minor nit to pick is with the quality of the paint job on the faces of the kettle bells. This is a purely cosmetic issue that doesn’t take away from the usability of the kettle bells at all, but it does detract from the overall perception of quality.
In case you didn’t know, prior to the pandemic pretty much every brand of kettle bells was manufactured in China. Then coronavirus hit, people were stuck at home, and supply chains out of China were disrupted.
This was the perfect storm for a massive run on fitness equipment, and several months later most companies are still having trouble keeping products in stock. Rogue Fitness has attempted to circumvent the supply chain issues by sourcing this new line of kettle bells from a foundry in Michigan, and I applaud them for doing this.
The handle of the Rogue E-Coat kettle bell is probably the thickest of the test group so far, making them more suitable for people with large hands. To be honest, I was excited to review this kettle bell since it’s the first one I’ve owned that is made in the USA.
As the name implies, USA-Iron is an entirely U.S.-based operation and is among the first few companies to manufacture their own line of kettle bells in the United States. In case you’ve been asleep for most of 2020, prepare to be rudely awakened…prior to COVID-19 most (if not all) kettle bells were manufactured in China.
Then the ‘RNA hit, people were stuck at home, and supply chains out of China were severely disrupted. This was the perfect storm for a massive run on fitness equipment, and several months later most companies are still having trouble keeping kettle bells in stock.
USA-Iron has stepped into the breach producing high quality kettle bells to make sure we can keep on swinging, and I’m very glad they did. The owner of USA-Iron reached out to me in the comments of this article and was kind enough to send me a set of 25lb and 35lb kettle bells to evaluate and review.
I was told by the company owner that the powder coat paint formulation was specifically chosen to provide some texture for improved grip, and that choice is evident during use. USA-Iron is one of the few companies I’m aware of that adds a separate wash step to the manufacturing process to clean dust off the kettle bell before the powder coat is applied.
This is an important step because the factories where kettle bells are made are dirty, dusty places. Lots of that dust settles on the surface of the bells while they sit patiently waiting for paint.
The end result is a very durable finish with a textured coating that will hold plenty of chalk if needed. I don’t knock them for this though, since the kettle bells are high quality and some people will really like the thicker handle size.
However, people with smaller hands may find the thicker handle size more difficult to hold during longer workout sessions. If that weren’t reason enough to support them, I like that the company is small and open to feedback, and the people there are very committed to producing a high quality product.
The handle dimensions are on the larger end of the spectrum, so if you have small or medium hands you may want to look at other options. The guy narrating the video, Pavel Tstatsouline, was affiliated with Dragon Door when the video was filmed so the process likely shows how Dragon Door kettle bells were made back in the day.
I’ve been a fitness coach for the last ten years and have been training with kettle bells a little longer than that. I’m doing this review, first and foremost, to help YOU figure out which kettle bell to buy.
And so, when a one-of-a-kind opportunity to review some sweet kettle bells presented itself, I jumped on it. You see, this past summer, someone from KettlebellKings.com contacted me via Twitter asking if I had any plans to update my kettle bell review from a few years ago.
A couple of those kettle bells literally took months to procure (many emails and follow-ups, waiting for a shipment from Europe, etc.). I used a comprehensive point system to rate and rank the kettle bells in this review.
For the actual testing, I simply did a lot of kettle bell training over the last few months using a program I designed myself. I’ve done thousands of swings, cleans, Turkish get-ups, snatches, press and jerk variations, and several other traditional kettle bell exercises.
Both include many unconventional kettle bell exercises to help you make the most of this gear and train the whole body in not just three dimensions, but also through all six degrees of freedom. All that said, this review process was not very scientific mainly because I didn’t feel that I needed several months or years to evaluate these tools.
Below, you’ll see a directory of my top kettle bell choices, arranged in different categories, along with some of my notes about them. For the sake of brevity, I decided to leave a lot of my notes out of this review.
Their kettle bells are some of the highest quality I’ve ever used (i.e. durability, fit and feel, finish, handle, etc.). They also carry a full selection of kettle bells (i.e. all weights, including “in-between” sizes), and they offer many package discounts to save you as much money as possible.
So, when I tally up all the different ratings I assigned to the various categories in my point system for this review, it’s no surprise why KettlebellsUSA.com is my top choice. They have a great selection of very high quality kettle bells at affordable prices.
Forgive me for asking, but as competitive as we are and as much as we want to be the best we are curious if there is specific feedback you have about our Kettle bell Sport model that would have made it number one for you? So, I sent them some more specific feedback including a mention (with photo) of an extremely minor defect on one of their kettle bells.
So, if you’re in the market for some of the best kettle bells that money can buy, and don’t mind paying a little more than you would elsewhere, check out VulcanStrength.com. Also, those with large hands or who like to do two-handed kettle bell exercises (e.g. two-handed swings) may prefer the wider handle that Vulcan offers.
You’ll pay a little more for Lead kettle bells than the other companies above, and they don’t have quite as good of a selection, but the quality is there. But I was pleasantly surprised that both Lead and Vulcan produce such high quality models since they also manufacture many other types of fitness equipment.
He told me that it produces a kettle bell with superior balance and no interior rattle. He also said that it results in less strain on the body, and I’ve found that to be true while comparing them with the others.
And it does represent a niche product because out of all the kettle bells I reviewed, Rogue’s is the only one made out of iron. They were very enthusiastic about the review, and always kind and courteous, but it took over two months to actually get one of their kettle bells delivered to me.
This allows for easier progressions while increasing weight, without having to adjust your exercise technique. That said, if you’re only going to use your kettle bells very rarely or only for the most basic exercises (e.g. swings, goblet squats, etc.
And by the way, if you decide to order some kettle bells after reading my review, I have a gift for you… *If you order kettle bells through one of my referral links, please send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you a gift: The 7 Key Components of the Kettle bell Swing (coaching video).
***Important Note: Product research, testing, and evaluation for this review was conducted between August and November 2016. Note: RogueFitness.com politely declined to send me a free product sample.
However, to do the intense, highly grip-based and cardio-driven exercises associated with kettle bells, I recommend some weightlifting accessories. The main reason I would think about purchasing these, or similar accessories, is to maintain form and safety.
Then, once you are familiar with the mechanics of the kettle bell and feel comfortable gripping them, you can really amp up the workouts. This is important, especially in relation to this article, because cardio and strength training are what promote weight loss.
We will be discussing why kettle bells are optimal for weight loss, as well as some preferred exercises. It’s very important to always remember that cardio is a huge pillar to the house of weight loss.
Most weightlifting movements do not implement a high amount of cardio, unless they are HIIT routines or focusing on CrossFit training. When adding in that cardio aspect to kettle bell exercises, like swings, jump squats, etc., you’ll experience faster results.
In fact, intense lifting puts you into a longer residual fat burning zone. Now, imagine combining the longevity of fat burning from weights with the intensity of a cardiovascular workout.
The beauty of kettle bells is that they are more versatile for HIIT exercises when compared to something like dumbbells. With their strength building aspect, you will be hitting all the proper channels that lead to further weight loss.
The focus needed, the grip strength, the core balance and even hip drive will ensure you see success. The swinging movement, along with the squat and explosiveness, lead to the foundation of kettle bell exercises.
First thing is first: choose a kettle bell that is manageable and won’t pull you off balance. After choosing the best kettle bell weight for you, give it a gentle swing between your legs as you drop into a squat.
If the kettle bell you’ve chosen seems to be fine, then start rapping out the swings. Make sure to go strong and controlled, getting deep into the squat and swinging the kettle bell to the same spot for each rep.
Adding just this one adjustment to your kettle bell swing will amplify the explosive nature of the workout almost by tenfold. The dumbbell jump squats will be so much more explosive and tiring (due to the cardio-centric nature) that you’ll burn fat quicker.
Dark Iron Fitness has one of the best weightlifting belts available, and it’s worth investing in, as you’ll only ever need to buy it once. Hold two kettle bells up by your shoulders with your hands up, and proceed to perform the jump squats.
If you perform any of these, you’ll feel the burn, the sweat and the weight begin to slowly melt off with time. Give them a try and continuously work them into your weightlifting routines or even just as supplemental workouts on cardio days.
A lot of people are looking for quick results, clear-cut answers and a strict guide to lose excess weight. You need to find what works for you, stick to it and let the journey become a large part of your happiness and success.
Don’t fall for the tricks of someone selling you one specific exercise routine or “10 minutes or less” workouts as the end all be all. If you hold a lot of weight in your stomach, it’ll most likely be the last place that fat leaves your body.
A lot of people are under the impression that the use of kettle bells are some gimmicky fad that burst on the fitness scene within the last decade or so. The benefits of Kettle bell Training are backed by valid science & extensive studies conducted in the exercise industry along with many hours of practical application experience.
While referencing all this science and studies lends credence to the effectiveness of using kettle bells, I only need to trust my own experiences with these amazing implements and the great results I have gotten myself and for those who have practiced with them under my guidance. A supreme benefit to Training with kettle bells is that they elevate the heart rate and work many major muscle groups at the same time.
If you were to read no further, just that reason alone would be enough to position most people for success in their quest for their ideal body composition. Unfortunately, that hack trainer over at the 24-hour super-duper mega techno gym considers throwing you on a treadmill like some mindless hamster followed by doing some curls and crunches a total body workout.
Spare yourself the disappointment and frustration of participating in thoughtless and ineffective workouts like this if you really want to improve your fitness. Many of my reasons I state in this article for why I use a kettle bell in my training also cover what a total body workout should consist of.
Hopefully, you realize that our stay on this planet is finite and that we don’t have a lot of time to waste doing unproductive things. I train with kettle bells because they allow me to design safe, brief, sustainable workouts to experience Maximum Fitness in Minimal Time leading to Stellar Results.
Everybody talks about the ‘core” and all of its virtues, but really never train it too productively from what I see while walking around gyms in different cities I visit. Rarely do I witness worthwhile or meaningful efforts to train the core besides people throwing together some type of crunch or setup routine they have etched in their brains from somewhere in time.
Many kettle bell exercises will give you a metabolic effect similar to sprinting, BUT without beating the hell out of your knees, ankles or joints. The challenge is to pursue a fitness program consisting of exercises that will not only give you a productive workout, but promote an existence of rich, pain free movement as well.
High-repetition kettle bell exercises, such as swings and their variations really get your heart rate up and push the limits of your cardiovascular endurance. Kettle bell exercises push your muscles, especially those in your core, to keep working repeatedly for long periods of time.
This builds muscular endurance, which helps maintain posture and form in your workouts as well as throughout everyday life activities. Good posture prevents injuries, unhealthy muscle tension, and other aches and pains we all seem to have accumulated to varying degrees over our lifetime.
The good news is that you can get incredible fitness and health results with just 2-3 short kettle bell workouts per week in conjunction with a well-designed program. I loved the fact that I could get in a challenging and fun kettle bell workout that literally addressed every fitness goal I valued with a minimal time investment that yielded maximum results.
I’m convinced that sound, thoughtful and challenging physical training in general does wonders for your mental well-being and will contribute to a positive outlook on life. Furthermore, kettle bell exercises are extremely efficient at building lean muscle mass, which elevates the metabolism and helps maintain a healthy body weight long term.
Kettle bell training will help you forge your ideal body without wasting a lot of unproductive time in the gym. If you value a physique that looks as good as it moves and will get you excited about parading around in a bikini or bathing suit again then the kettle bell is the fitness ally you should partner up with.
Add new exercises only if you can justify its purpose in furthering your training goals, it’s safe and you can perform them competently. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced trainees will all be challenged since there are so many exercise regressions and progressions that can be applied in a kettle bell training program to keep all levels engaged and moving forward with their goals.
If you can’t move well and with a requisite amount of strength, then your quality of life and performance of your everyday activities will suffer. Heed my warning and train in such a way where you will promote and preserve your joint mobility and pain free movement quality.
Renowned coach Steve Maxwell stated that in his many years of teaching fitness worldwide, he has never had a client tell him that they wished they had done more bench presses over their lifetime. Instead, they all overwhelmingly regret not practicing and staying connected to exercises that improved their movement quality in order to live an active pain free life.
This is a great warning that I wished I would have heeded in my younger training days, but fortunately it is rarely too late to improve your movement quality if you have the desire to take action and practice meaningful exercises. I absolutely love the comradery of training with others in the mutual achievement of fitness goals as I am the consummate social animal and am not the grim guy with the ear buds training in the corner of the gym screaming to the heavens on every cheat rep with a perpetual scowl on my face.
But if you want to torch the fat, increase mobility, get lean & strong, develop killer legs, tighten your butt & perform better physically and live a life of active vitality and longevity, then a well-designed kettle bell based program may be for you. If you like the fitness benefits you can experience from training with kettle bells, then take action and dare to transform your body and your quality of life.
Grab a friend, spouse or loved one or go it alone and give kettle bell training a shot if you want to experience meaningful results, achieve that ideal body and even have some fun and excitement. Many gyms and health clubs wanting to jump on the kettle bell bandwagon and cash in on their dynamic reputation and “cool” status for propelling one to their fitness goals will make the knee-jerk decision to add them to their facility with little thought as to their proper use or how to integrate them safely into their master plan if they have one at all.
When confronted with attitude and logic such as this, I usually politely excuse myself quickly as dealing with clueless characters like these types is pointless. People get hurt when they don’t take the time to learn safe, sustainable technique or take instruction from inept, unqualified, unprepared instructors who do you, me, the kettle bell and the fitness industry a colossal disservice by muddying the effectiveness and reputation of this excellent tool.
Regarding scenarios such as this, trainees and trainers will usually get hurt at some point due to their lack of proper technique training and then ridiculously blame the kettle bell for their shortcomings instead of their own ineptness and failure to learn proper technique and program design as to the reason for their failure or injury. In the wrong hands the kettle bell becomes nothing more than an Attractive Liability for irresponsible gym owners, trainers and members who are either ignorant of sound technique or their colossal egos dictate that they are above learning from others with greater skill than their own.
I politely questioned one gym owner why he lets his admittedly unqualified staff have free rein of the kettle bells without any legitimate training. I told him you are allowing your staff to teach horrendous technique to your client base in a dangerously unsustainable manner.
While I use and advocate many fitness tools, the kettle bell does represent the foundation of my training play book because they simply are that damn good, and they work. With proper instruction, kettle bells are easy to learn, yet will keep you challenged and progressing without boring the hell out of you.
I have been using kettle bells for over a decade and I have yet to experience boredom or lack of enthusiasm and I have sampled just about every fitness tool and method out there. That was certainly true for kettle bells, the cannonball-with-a-handle training tools that started showing up on lists of fitness trends about three years ago.
In order to get a fair comparison, they had their volunteers repeatedly estimate their perceived exertion during the kettle bell routine on a standard numerical scale from 6 to 20. On the surface, the results were clear: The treadmill workout burned more calories and consumed more oxygen than the kettle bells, by 25 to 39 per cent.
Still, the kettle bell routine maintained heart rates up above 85 per cent of maximum, enough to produce gains in cardiovascular fitness. “If it's a heavier kettle bell that's lifted only a few times, it's probably a strength workout,” says Jerry Mayhew, the senior author of the Truman State study.
Kettle bells put less compression but more lateral force on your vertebrae compared to conventional barbells, according to research by the University of Waterloo's Stuart McGill. Dr. McGill recommends starting with the “shortstop squat” to practice keeping the spine in a neutral position: hands on knees, bending with the hips and looking straight ahead.
I have seen kettle bells go from a training implement very few knew anything about, to seeing it on pretty much any type of fitness advertisement. The way we look at conclusions of studies and not the bigger picture could make kettle bells look as though they aren’t a very valuable tool.
Well in one study by Otto et al. (1), the effectiveness of kettle bell training versus weightlifting was put to the test. The impact of these two forms of training were measured by vertical jump performance, strength, and body composition.
The study compared jump squats with kettle bell swings to measure maximal and explosive strength. Soviet Sports Science expert, Dr. Michael Yes sis, states that plyometric training can cause forces acting upon the body to 20 times one’s own body weight (4).
Therefore, with those that may not have the joint integrity, health history, or really know how, may find kettle bell swings to be a much safer alternative to jump squats with very similar results. There is research to show how kettle bell training has been helpful in improving posture, VO2max, and even bench pressing.
That is why I hear a confusing message by some kettle bell advocates that in the end the barbell is better because you can apply more load. MMM, that would make some sense, yet, we would have to put that line of thinking under a bit more scrutiny.
Combine this study with the front vs back squat study, and we start to notice a few important factors that are often missed in developing wonderful strength training programs. How weight is applied to the body (holding position) is a very important variable.
The stability of the implement itself can alter the amount of neuromuscular activity. Well, I would argue that the weight of the kettle bell isn’t a limiting issue.
How about changing the body position to more staggered or single leg? Strength Coach, Bret Contreras, has showed that movements like kettle bell swings offer huge not only vertical forces, but horizontal as well (9).
This is important as athletics and functional movements usually not happen just up and down, but with forces going horizontally as well! How about the fact that the kettle bell squat variations offer us two tremendous benefits the barbell can not.
I could go on and on about many of the top benefits that the kettle bell provides that not only makes it effective, but foundational to ANY strength training program. Concepts of independent implements which allow for the body to learn control while creating force.
Effects of weightlifting vs. kettle bell training on vertical jump, strength, and body composition. Gullet, Jonathan C; Tillman, Mark D; Gutierrez, Gregory M; Chow, John W. A Biomechanical Comparison of Back and Front Squats in Healthy Trained Individuals.
Jay K, Jacobsen M, Unstrap E, Scott J, and Jorgensen M, et al. Effects of kettle bell training on postural coordination and jump performance: A randomized controlled trial.
Pinocchio P, Speaker D, Ruskin A, Minichiello J, and Castro J. Transference of kettle bell training to strength, power and endurance. Saeterbakken AH, Finland MS. J Strength Cold Res.
Effects of body position and loading modality on muscle activity and strength in shoulder presses. Kettle bell Swings: Go Heavier for Greater Glute and Hamstring Activation.
Josh is also the creator of the Dirt Ultimate Sandbag Training system where he is a highly sought after presenter worldwide.