Too heavy, and you won't be able to complete the exercises using proper form while also putting yourself at risk for serious injuries. We offer a broad range of weights, suitable for everyone from a beginner just starting out to an experienced veteran looking for an added challenge.
Kettle bells can also be made of a heavy material, such as cement, with an exterior covering. And while the cool factor is a good enough reason to start using one, there are many others that will inspire you to stick with kettle bell training long-term and make it a regular part of your workouts.
It wasn’t long before farmers started challenging each other to lift the heaviest ones, and kettle bells eventually found their way into the hands of circus strongmen. While kettle bells have been available in the United States since the 1940s, they’ve enjoyed a resurgence in popularity since the turn of the century and are now widely available in gyms and for sale online and in stores.
For a greater grip challenge on a move like rowing, you may choose to hold the kettle bell by the bell itself, which will force your hand to squeeze harder to prevent slipping. “It’s funny how, with barbells and dumbbells, so many people are happy to press to where their elbows are bent 90 degrees,” says Shane Hans, Director of FitnessEducation for the Innit Academy.
“But with the kettle bell, everybody instinctively wants to press up to lockout, because the off-set load acts as a counter-weight, pulling their shoulder back.” And if you can’t—say, you arch your back or twist to one side in an effort to complete the lift—you know immediately when your form has broken (or if you don’t, a skilled trainer or training partner who’s watching you will).
That paves the way for you to perform more advanced (and arguably more glamorous) exercises properly when you graduate to them—such as a heavy barbell back squat. As stated above, pressing a kettle bell overhead will create the tendency to flare your ribs or lean back, so you have to lock your core in that much more to prevent it.
In a swing, you have to brace your core to prevent your lower back from rounding dangerously at the bottom of the movement. On any exercise you do, you can count on your core having to fire harder to stabilize your body and ensure safety—it’s not optional as it can be with other free weights or machines.
The kettle bell handle, coupled with the displaced load, requires your fingers, hands, and forearms to work harder to control it than they would on a dumbbell. While some manufacturers promote a thick handle, a narrower one will make it easier to perform more complex movements, which increases your training options (more on this later under “How To Choose A Kettle bell ”).
Most kettle bell exercises integrate the entire body, and many, such as classics like the clean and press and snatch, involve lifting the weight from the floor to overhead. Working muscles across the body over such a wide range of motion creates tremendous demand on the heart.
Next to exercise bands and a suspension trainer, kettle bells are the easiest training tool to travel with. They won’t roll around in the back of your car like dumbbells might, and they wouldn’t look out of place on a beach or at the park.
“There’s a huge library of exercises that you can use with one weight,” says John Wolf, Innit’s Chief Fitness Officer. Others are designed specifically for kettle bell lifting competitions and have a straight handle and are uniform regardless of weight.
In an attempt to appeal to beginners, a few manufacturers make kettle bells with concave faces, which are intended to be more ergonomic. Some newfangled kettle bells work like dumbbells and can be loaded with plates, offering multiple weight changes with one implement.
Kettle bell Swings and setups burn fat and get your heart rate up as well as any cardio machine, but do more to re-enforce good mechanics. If you pick up a kettle bell that rubs against the bone that protrudes on the lateral side of your wrist, the weight displacement from the handle is not ideal, and you could end up getting injured.
“Innit’s handles are a little over an inch in diameter,” says Wolf, which is enough to work your grip but not so demanding to hold that it creates unnecessary fatigue. The same basic lifts that make barbell and dumbbell training so effective can be done with kettle bells for a unique twist.
In addition, there are some exercises that are unique to kettle bells alone and, while they may seem awkward at first, can pay quick dividends no matter what your training goals. Take a deep breath into your belly and twist your feet into the ground (imagine screwing them down without actually moving them) and squat, keeping your torso upright.
Pull your ribs down and think “proud chest” and “long spine” so your tailbone is tilted up slightly. As mentioned earlier, if you need to arch your back, causing your ribs to flare in order to lock out your arm overhead, you’re not training the shoulder effectively.
Bend your knees slightly and push your butt back, screwing your feet into the floor as you lower your torso until your arms can grasp the kettle bell handle. Brace your core and row the weight back to your hip, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
“But we feel like people jump into that pool way too fast.” Most swings you’ll see in the gym (or on YouTube) aren’t done safely—at the risk of serious lower-back injury. It’s important for people not familiar with it to learn to hinge with their hips, which lays the foundation for all dead lift variations and explosive exercises like snatches and cleans.
Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettle bell by its horns, pulling the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum Draw your shoulder blades together and down (“proud chest”) and cast your eyes on a spot on the floor approximately 15 feet in front of you. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, extend your hips and squeeze your glutes, tucking your tailbone under as you lock out.
Rather than jump in with a Turkish getup—an awesome but complex total-body movement— kettle bell newbies can start with the half getup, which still provides a tremendous core workout as well as flexibility training. Extend your hips as if coming up to stand tall and then bring your left foot in front of you again and plant it on the floor with the knee bent 90 degrees.
Turn your rear leg so the foot points straight behind you and you finish in a lunge position. “Getting comfortable and aware of how to brace your body correctly when the kettle bell changes position is one of the most valuable things you can do,” says Wolf.
Moving the kettle bell in a circular motion around the body—called a “halo”—strengthens your core and prepares you for explosive exercises down the line. To do the basic shoulder halo, stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettle bell by its horns upside down—the bell should face up.
Begin moving the kettle bell around your head, being careful to maintain your posture and not bend your torso in any direction. If you’re a longtime meathead who’s now finding that years of bodybuilding-style workouts have led to muscle imbalances and injury, kettle bells can play a key role in restoring healthy movement patterns.
All you need to do for a kick-ass workout that covers every major muscle group is “squat, hinge, push, and pull,” says Wolf. Pick from the exercises listed above for starters, or check out Wolf and Hans’ sample full-body beginner’s workout HERE.
We live in a world of infinite knowledge, yet we rarely stop to think about the dangers of such innovation. Well, maybe not that many, but in this day and age of strength and conditioning the kettle bell is turning into a standard training tool among coaches and trainees.
If you’re new to the kettle bell and want to jump in with both feet, three full body workouts hitting each movement pattern per week is plenty. The conventional gyms and department stores of the world would have you believe that a 10lb kettle bell is all a man needs and a 5lb is plenty for a woman.
Well, my friend, I hate to burst your kettle-bubble, but if you want to see any benefits from the bell you need to challenge yourself. 99% of the time (a statistic I just made up to prove a point but is still going to be high) trainees go too light.
There’s no set standard per se as each person is different, but here’s a good guide for non-injured, healthy men and women: Challenging yourself is important, but if you’re breaking form for the purposes of lifting a certain weight, then the potential harm outweighs any good could be doing.
If I had a nickel for each time I’ve seen someone attempting a technical move like the snatch at a conventional gym with zero knowledge of the movement outside of watching a video I’d be a rich man. Finding a reputable coach in your area or absorbing instructional videos will do your body good.
Juggling, intense movements, and programs with a ton of volume can look enticing, but if you’re not ready for it take a step back. Check out the Durability channel on Innit Academy On Demand to work through tight areas and open up new movements.
Double kettle bell work, heavy one arm swings, bent presses, goblet squats, and incredible flows will do far more than get your heart pumping. A powerful routine that will build incredible strength AND conditioning is utilizing the kettle bell (or a few) for a strength-geared circuit.
For example, you can perform a press, goblet squat, renegade row, and one arm swing. This gives you PLENTY of room for growth since you can’t change the weights easily.
The bell can help you get rid of quite a few of those stubborn, sticking points that are holding you back. Between get-ups, arm bars, windmills and sots presses kettle bell deliver amazing strength, but also incredible mobility from your hips to your shoulders and everything in between.
You can incorporate challenging movements as a warm up or what I do is pick the toughest ones based on my body’s abilities and spend a whole session playing with them. For example, I’ll incorporate a longer mobility warm up and then hit multiple sets (never to failure) of sots presses and deep goblet squats using lighter weights.
Because of the position of the kettle bell even simply pressing it will pull your arm back a bit further stretching your lats and opening up your shoulders a hair more. Your glutes and hamstrings are your power source for building hip speed and explosive strength.
Sets can be broken down and performed ladder-style, on the minute, or pair them with a calisthenics move like push ups for a more robust session. A strong grip is more useful than the mainstream fitness world gives it credit.
The off-center placement of the bell gives the kettle bell an advantage over other tools as it forces you to keep a flexed forearm while in the rack and overhead position. Combine that with kettle bell flows, juggling, and ballistic movements to strengthen your grip from every angle.
Eventually, you can try tougher routines and juggling complexes to unleash the power of the bell. Most strength training is done with trunk flexion and extension with the occasional rotational movement medicine ball throw.
Squats and dead lifts are awesome, but when you combine powerful movements with the likes of rotational swings, lateral punches, and 360 snatches you’ll build strength from a multitude of angles. Strength in motion (what we’ve dubbed the outside the box thinking and kettle bell flowing) is almost meditative.
There are no sets and reps. You just move, and this allows you to explore different ranges of motion, planes, and movement patterns. If you’re a coach or group class leader kettle bells are fantastic to lead clients through a plethora of movements that will deliver strength and conditioning in record time.
It’s easy to get caught up in the “more is better” mentality when it comes to gym equipment at conventional locations. Some simple complexes and movements can help you continue on your strength quest without skipping a beat and minus the tons of equipment and weight needed.
An easy way is to limit your tools to a kettle bell and club or mace, a suspension trainer and your body to build a high-functioning physique without all the fluff. This will help you take your kettle bell abilities to the next level and help you unlock your imagination for some fantastic, out of the box strength and conditioning sessions.