Part of the benefit a lot of people experience with kettle bells is simply because they start training with more whole-body exercises, rather than the isolation exercises commonly done in most commercial gyms. In fact, I've taught people who are beginners with kettle bells the basic juggling moves, and they've been able to get started right away.
But the truth is you can get started with the basic moves right away and by the end of this article you‘ll know how. Now, I will admit that it is more dangerous than the average kettle bell movements or other forms of exercise.
But part of this training is that you build faster reflexes and coordination so you're able to avoid the weight when it does come crashing down. Secondly, by working all the odd angles and awkward movements you're actually injury proofing your body.
By starting with a light weight and building up to more complex moves your body is able to handle forces that might make “normal” people scared. For a long time I was able to make the claim that I never hurt myself kettlebelljuggling.
But then I finally did hurt myself when I tried a very complex trick (picture doing a cartwheel with a kettle bell in hand) with too heavy of a weight. A common idea is that juggling should be done with steel-toed shoes, but I’d rather have my feet be able to move quickly, so I like to be barefoot.
If you do it indoors, then you better have thick rubber mats to protect the floor (and then be careful of the resulting bounce). Now let's talk about some benefits kettlebelljuggling brings you that the normal kettle bell ballistic exercises don't.
The regular kettle bell ballistics are great in building hip extension and the posterior chain. A simple flip of the kettle bell can also be trained to the point of efficiency, but it will always take more effort than the swing itself.
And when you move into some of the more complex stunts, and definitely when using a heavier weight, you'll see just how quickly the endurance is jacked up. By working in all these different angles, including in places many trainers would have you believe you should never go, such as a rounded spine with rotation in it, you're strengthening your weak points.
By building up in this manner over time, which is done by progressing through the kettlebelljuggling skills, all your weak links become much stronger. Sure, if you have a completely uncoordinated person who is just getting started with kettle bells they will build some coordination, but it's only up to a minor level.
With the swing you are absorbing force at the bottom and then redirecting it, reapplying it as you do the next rep. Kettlebelljuggling takes us to a whole other level. There are few other things where you’ll find you want to continue your practice past the point of fatigue or even exhaustion, but it has been known to happen with kettlebelljuggling.
I frequently tell people that if I had to spend 45 minutes on a treadmill, I wouldn't want to exercise either. There's even more benefits than this, but this list gives you a fairly well-rounded picture of what you can gain from doing kettlebelljuggling.
Kettlebelljuggling is extremely hard to teach through the written word. Then you can progress to reverse flips, helicopters, the uppercut drill, and much more.
For those interested, I’ve created a whole progressive path of kettlebelljuggling mastery. Also, several years ago, I put up the following article covering the technique I started with in kettlebelljuggling, the Kettle bell forward flip and catch.
I’ve seen guys do it behind their back, going between their legs, and even juggling more than one bell at a time. While you may also have the goal of mastering the art of kettlebelljuggling, it’s important to start out on the right foot or else you could get very frustrated and maybe even injured by improper technique.
The way I started out was by performing what I call the Forward Flip and Catch. In order to get started with kettlebelljuggling, it’s important to understand a few simple points.
Once the kettle bell is in this position, you have a window of opportunity to impart other forces upon it to make the juggling possible. If you are no good at kettle bell swings, then you should master that movement before moving on to juggling.
The bell is projected to this height not just by lifting it with the shoulder and arm, but rather it is propelled to that position by the lower body, especially the power of the hips and glutes. After the kettle bell is pulled through the legs, the hips are snapped and the bell travels upward in its trajectory.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to express any power into the kettle bell if your arm is straight, so it is necessary to transition the swing into a high pull. It is this slight back pull that brings the bell closer to your body where you can then exert other forces into it and make it flip around so that you can juggle it.
With this in mind, you can also slightly shift your hand into radial deviation so that you can optimize the positioning of the thumb and propel the bell forward to initiate the flip. If your technique is dialed in you will catch the bell in almost the same exact spot you flipped it.
Once you get the feel you will be able to move your hand to find the kettle bell handle and secure it again in your grasp. However, just like any other kettle bell lift, efficiency is important in order to put together a string of Forward Flips.
If they try to catch the bell and drop it straight down, they will lose a lot of momentum. By maintaining this arc, you can more easily explode back into another swing, high pull, and flip.
A lot of people think it’s stupid or just to look cool, some are jealous, some don’t understand and therefore put it down. People that don’t these skills will not develop them and therefore run much more of risk dropping something on their feet, again, this inability transfers to events outside of training.
Agility or nimbleness is the ability to change the body’s position efficiently and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance. The processes that occur during this brief time enable the brain to perceive the surrounding environment, identify an object of interest, decide an action in response to the object, and issue a motor command to execute the movement.
Motor coordination is the combination of body movements created with the kinematic (such as spatial direction) and kinetic (force) parameters that result in intended actions. To take in energy through physical action, i.e. reducing the velocity of the kettle bell with the body.
Being able to move weight fast and getting the amount of power required just right. Saying that juggling is a waste of time or just to look cool is like saying no one needs the skills aforementioned.
Jeff is a well respected guy in the fitness community and both Pavel and Brett Jones endorse his work so that should tell you something. Also go to YouTube and do search for a video titled KettlebellJuggling, Jeff Mar tone”.
He puts on a great demonstration of the kind of juggling you can expect to learn. Gus was an instructor at my ROC cert and was doing all kinds of crazy KB juggling.
You simply can't juggle for long without a crisp, well-timed hip snap. There are a couple of videos on YouTube featuring Chinese, Russian or German senior Greeks juggling KB's.
I wonder whether KB juggling somehow keeps the CNS and body fresh in a way that grinds are not capable of. It is probably pretty self-limiting and flow-state promoting. Teaches rhythm, reflexive strength/stability and the art of alternating between tension and relaxation, which is critical for many sports.
Juggling is so much fun, but you will drop the bell if you do it long enough (so quick feet and a floor you don't care about are essential). I highly recommend Logan Christopher's KettlebellJuggling. Quality tutorials starting with the basics and going onto advanced moves like double KB's and partner work.