Kettle bells offer a different kind of training using dynamic moves targeting almost every aspect of fitness—endurance, strength, balance, agility and cardio endurance. The idea is to hold the kettle bell in one or both hands and go through a variety of exercises like the two arm swing, the snatch, the loaded carry, and the high pull.
The momentum of many kettle bell movements (a big no-no in traditional strength training), creates centrifugal force, focusing more attention on the muscles used for deceleration and stabilization. Dumbbells are great for building muscle and strength with slow, controlled movements while kettle bell training involves the entire body and focuses on endurance, power and dynamic movements.
The American Council on Exercise commissioned a study to find out just how effective kettle bell training is. After eight weeks of kettle bell exercises, researchers saw significant improvement in endurance, balance, and core strength.
The greatest improvement was in the core where strength increased a whopping 70 percent. It's time efficient — You train multiple fitness components in the same session including cardio, strength, balance, stability, power, and endurance The exercises are functional and weight-bearing which helps increase bone density and keep the body strong for daily tasks.
Improved back pain — One interesting study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that kettle bell training offered some unique loading patterns we don't see with traditional strength training. Simplicity — the exercises are simple, the workouts are straightforward and you only need one piece of equipment, although you may need a variety of weights.
You need to have a very strong foundation before testing your balance and core strength with a heavy weight. However, you can use a kettle bell like a dumbbell for static exercises like dead lifts, rows or squats.
It's very easy to hurt your back if you don't use good technique, so get some guidance from an expert and start with a lighter weight, Risk of injury — The real injury risk often comes from doing the moves wrong rather than the exercises themselves. If you're interested in getting started with kettle bell training, it's best to take a class or get some guidance from an experienced instructor to get detailed breakdowns of the exercises.
Many of the swinging movements may be unfamiliar and a professional can help with your form and in choosing your weights. Very well Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.
Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Additional Reading Kettle bell Swing, Snatch, and Bottoms-Up Carry: Back and... : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.
Jay K, Frisco D, Hansen K, et al. Kettle bell training for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health: a randomized controlled trial. When I decided to explore an intense-style class like kettle bells, I wondered if I would be able to hold my own with people used to lifting and swinging large balls of iron with relative ease.
With Russian roots dating back to the early 1700s, kettle bells are cast iron weights that resemble a cannonball with a handle. I really enjoyed her teaching style, as she kept the class challenging, yet also focused heavily on technique, safety and quality of movement, all of which are imperative when training with kettle bells.
After spending time performing a dynamic warm-up, we learned the proper mechanics of four key moves that were later combined to form a fun yet challenging sequence. The exercises, which included alternating one-arm swings, clean, squats and shoulder presses, challenged just about every major muscle and worked up one serious sweat.
This class got my heart rate up and challenged my entire body in a way that was much different from my normal resistance training routine. From strengthening the key muscles of the lower body (glutes, hamstrings and quads) to challenging the muscles of the core and upper body (back, shoulders, forearms, triceps and biceps), kettle bells truly are a highly effective training tool for improving total-body strength.
Also, because of the high-intensity nature of this style of training, it serves as a great option for boosting your cardiorespiratory fitness as well, which means you get quite a good bang for your buck. The studio also offers semi-private and private training sessions, other great options for honing in on form and proper execution of each exercise.
Technique is key when it comes to kettle bell training, and mastering proper form takes both practice and quality instruction. In fact, I've even starting integrating kettle bells into my regular strength workouts using some exercises we practiced in class.
As with any fitness class, you’re going to find instructors who suit your needs, those that are too advanced, and some who fall behind what your body is capable of handling. This type of class will show you the proper form in handling kettle bells and the right way to pick up the equipment and maneuver it to prevent injury and maximize your workout.
There’s usually not a lot of talking in these types of fitness classes because the repetition and speed of the training means everyone is concentrating on his or her own workout and paying attention to their form. This will prevent you from getting drenched, but it can also help you maintain control over the kettle bell, since sweaty hands could send the equipment flying through the air if you lose your grip.
Other classes will provide a set of kettle bells for each person in attendance, so that you can choose the weight that’s right for you. Many local classes keep their groups small in nature so that more personal attention is given to every participant.
There are also specific kettle bell classes for rehabilitation, if you’ve been injured and need to use this form of exercise to help rebuild your strength and fitness stamina. There are even classes created for tactical career individuals, such as police, military and firefighters.
The number one why kettle bell fitness is hot is because weight loss continues to be an issue many people around the globe are striving for. Many kettle bell classes will have a primary focus of fat loss and conditioning, so the training is fast-paced and geared toward those who want to sweat a lot and see results faster.
Because the training is so intense, and usually includes a total body workout, you get more results with a shorter period of time. This allows busy parents to work in their routine during the day in short bursts, rather than having to carve out a full hour to get the fitness benefits they desire.
Kettle bell training helps them strengthen their abdominal muscles, legs, arms, back and core. The Ultimate Kettle bells Workbook: The Revolutionary Program to Tone, Sculpt and Strengthen Your Whole Body
The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile. Buy a DVD or sign up for a kettlebellclass at the gym to learn how to do the moves safely.
It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Hall are huge fans of kettle bell workouts. You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast-paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettle bell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.
Most kettle bell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles. The kettle bell is used as a weight for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses.
Lunges and squats are among the most popular moves in a kettle bell workout. Your tush will be toned by using the kettle bell for added weight during lunges and squats.
Using a kettle bell for a dead lift helps tone your back muscles. The kettle bell is an effective weight that will build muscle strength.
You may want to buy DVDs or sign up for classes to learn the basics of a kettle bell workout. Yes, if you take a class or pick a DVD that's for beginners and use a lighter kettle bell.
Depending on the program, you may be getting both your strength training and your aerobic workout at the same time. If you choose a kettle bell that is too heavy or if you have poor form, you are likely to lose control of it.
This can lead to a serious injury to your back, shoulders, or neck. Start out with an experienced trainer who can correct your technique before you hurt something.
Adding a kettle bell to your existing workout is great if you want to burn more calories in less time. This type of high-intensity workout is not for you if you would rather do a more meditative approach to body sculpting, or if sweating isn’t your thing.
With your doctor’s OK, you can include kettle bells in your fitness routine if you have diabetes. Muscle burns energy more efficiently, so your blood sugar levels will go down.
Depending on the workout, you may also get some cardio to help prevent heart disease. Using kettle bells in your workout puts some serious demands on your hips and back, as well as your knees, neck, and shoulders.
If you have arthritis or pain in your knees or back, then look for a less risky strength-training program. If you have other physical limitations, ask an experienced instructor for advice on how to modify your workout.
If you worked out with kettle bells before becoming pregnant and are not having any problems with your pregnancy, then you will likely be able to continue using them -- at least for a while. Talk to your instructor and your doctor; they might suggest switching out your kettle bells during your last trimester.
Sources American Council on Exercise: “Exclusive ACE research examines the benefits of kettle bells.” Build a Better Butt: Workouts for Slim and Shapely Glutes
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