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Quick View While it looks like a cannonball with a looping handle protruding at the top, it can easily be mistaken for an iron cast tea kettle on steroids.
It also happens to be growing in popularity, allowing athletes and those just trying to stay in shape to perform a wide range of specialized strength-building exercises with kettle bells. Kettle bell exercises were later popularized in the late 1800s by a Russian physician named Vladislav Kerensky, considered by many to be the country's founding father of Olympic weight training.
After spending roughly a decade traveling around the world researching exercise techniques, he opened one of Russia's first weight training facilities where kettle bells and barbells were introduced as a core part of a comprehensive fitness routine. By the early 1900s, Olympic weightlifters in Russia were using kettle bells to shore up weaker areas, while soldiers used them to improve their conditioning in preparation in combat.
But it wasn't until 1981 that the government finally threw its weight behind the trend and mandated kettle bell training for all citizens as a way to boost overall health and productivity. A-list celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Biel, Sylvester Stallone, and Vanessa Huygens have been known to utilize kettle bell workouts to strengthen and tone.
What distinguishes a kettle bell workout from training with barbells is an emphasis on a wider range of movement that involves several muscle groups. Whereas barbells are generally used to directly target isolated muscle groups, such as the biceps, the kettle bell ’s weight is away from the hand, allowing for swinging moves and other full body exercises.
Russian Swing: Standing with knees slightly bent and feet apart, hold the kettle bell just below the groin with both hands and with both arms straight. Also, since they're compact, portable and with many shops selling them for prices comparable to the cost of barbells, it might be worth it to just buy a set.
PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARANDESIGNER/CERTIFIED movement specialist Michelle Simon and Steve Cotter demonstrate the tricep press for toned arms and shoulders. Once used to train Russian soldiers for combat, the kettle bell is now being swung by women to get some curves. American fitness guru Steve Cotter, touted by Men’s Magazine as one of the world’s fittest men, came to the Philippines to educate fitness professionals on the growing trends— kettle bell, body weight and functional movement.
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.
“These three movements—squatting, pressing and pulling—which work the large part of the body, should be the foundation,” said Cotter. He pointed out, as an example, that the leg extension machine and the squat take the same amount of time and effort.
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.
For details on kettle bell and functional training, contact Joined Cruz of fit Pro at 0917-8414848. The kettle bell ’s centered handle allows it to be swung or lifted in a wider variety of movements. Actor Rocco Pacino chiseled his body to land the cover of Men’s Health and the centerfold of Cosmos Magazine.
Petite designer Michele Simon whittled her waistline from 24 inches to 21 ¾ in a month. They got faster results when their personal trainer, Joined Cruz, incorporated the kettle bell into their strength-training workouts.
Gym-goers accustomed to streamlined machines or women used to Barbie doll weights might find the kettle bell intimidating. Because it requires attention to engage the stomach muscles to support the back, people claim they easily lost flab around their waists.
Dumbbells evenly spread weight, but with kettle bells, the user is challenged to make controlled movements in an unstable way. In contrast, the kettle bell method demands the coordination of several muscle groups and the engagement of the core.
“You won’t get bulky, like in traditional weight training,” says Cruz, who got his credentials from the International Kettle bell Fitness Federation. All these muscles are used in day-to-day activities, whether you’re sitting for long hours pounding the computer keyboard or carrying shopping bags around Greenbelt.
It also improves flexibility, because the kettle bell technique involves moving the body forward and backward, laterally, and rotationally. VARIED weights make the kettle bell ideal for either casual exercise or intense workout routines.
NELSON MATAWARANIn a demo, Cruz swings a kettle bell through his legs, and hefts the weight above his head while coordinating his breathing. Clients at the ESA Shangri-La Health Club are more than satisfied with the kettle bell workout to augment their program.
Mark Andrew Lyndall, senior director for European accounts of Transom, Europe’s largest BPO, had a very sedentary lifestyle and could only lift 10-lb dumbbells. After the gym, he’s got more energy and focus to work the odd hours of the BPO life, which starts at 4 p.m.
When Lyndall joined a competition among the members of ESA Shang’s Health Club, he even beat the pro athletes in speed and stamina. BPO employees tend to have an unhealthy lifestyle with smoking, junk food and no exercise.
PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARANMichele Simon, 43, observed that her son, Go Quinton, looked fit after training with Cruz. Under Cruz’s supervision, she developed a longer, streamlined silhouette and took six small meals a day instead of skipping them.
Cruz says Michele and Go aspire to be like the designer’s dad, lawyer After Simon, the septuagenarian, who could out-hike anybody. Actor Rocco Pacino (whose credits include “My Househusband,” the indie “Managing Draw, Mahayana Gobi,” and the TV show “Time of My Life”) says Cruz was the only trainer who was able to get his gut out.
He says that it’s a great cardio workout because 90 seconds of successive, ballistic movements are equivalent to running for 30 minutes on the treadmill.