If you’ve been thinking about starting or upgrading your home gym (whether that’s a corner of your bedroom, or a full two-car garage), this article will tell you exactly what you need to know about kettle bells, how many to get, where to buy them, and how to put them to good use. The design of the kettle offers three distinct advantages over it’s “bell” brothers, the dumbbell and barbell:
They sit flat on the floor (no rolling around) and the compact design means no wasted space. Likewise, dumbbells are a great training tool, but you’ll need a lot of them to get a decent full-body workout.
Armed with some savvy training knowledge (you will be by the end of this article), you’ll be able to get a great total-body workout with only 1-3 kettle bells, no matter your strength level. As a fitness coach, my goal is to get new clients feeling comfortable and confident while lifting weights and learning basic movement patterns.
Because the bell’s center of mass is directly under your grip, dead lifts fly up naturally without much cueing. But no matter your goal, or where you’re starting from, kettle bell training can transform your body and performance in ways you never thought possible.
Losing body fat and maintaining a lean physique comes down to controlling calories through nutrition and training. Kettle bell training offers many powerful ways to rev your metabolism and burn a mountain of calories in very little time.
The kettle bell swing is a hip hinge dominant movement, like a dead lift or box jump. This means each and every rep engages the posterior chain muscles of the hamstrings, glutes, back, and lats (plus lots of cores if you do them right).
When working all these large muscle groups dynamically at the same time, your heart rate jumps and you enjoy a calorie burn akin to a sprint (without the impact on the joints). Of course, any exercise can help you lose weight, but the kettle bell swing (and its big brother — the snatch) is a one-stop-shop for anyone looking for a simple and proven approach to cut body fat while building functional strength.
As mentioned above, kettle bells are a great way for beginners to learn the fine art of strength training. The foundational kettle bell lifts cover all the major movement patterns while developing athleticism and a strong mind-muscle connection.
Squats and swings build powerful and mobile hips — the keystone for every truly strong athlete. Row and press variations (especially bottoms-up) build resilient shoulders and a guaranteed ticket to the gun show.
This “what the hell” effect takes place when, after using kettle bells for a while, new reserves of strength and skill suddenly appear to demolish stubborn old personal records. For example, a long-distance trail runner might flounder after a couple laps in the pool… and a swimmer might find cycling tortuous.
Kettle bell training is optimal for a type of endurance called general physical preparedness (GPP). You won’t be the absolute best in any one field, but you’ll be in great shape and ready to handle a broad range of activities — from pickup basketball to packing a U-Haul.
Over the years, I’ve invested in nearly 30 kettle bells (a hodgepodge of different sizes, styles, and brands). Plus, a medium weight is ideal for kettle bell complexes — the stringing together of multiple lifts into a larger continuous set.
Kettles come much heavier than these (the 48 kg “Beast” is the cherry on top most collections), but we’re focusing on the sizes with the most value for beginners. Without the option of increasing weight in small steps, you are forced to make progress in various other ways with the same bell — volume (more reps), density (less rest), and variations (there are dozens of ways to perform a lift) are the big ones.
No matter your sex or fitness level, nearly every bell size has great value and there’s plenty of overlap in the recommendations anyway. These are your “bread ‘n butter” weights that will serve you well in both lower and upper body training for life.
Finally, the extra 12 kg will give you a great pair for double kettle bell workouts. We follow the same line of reasoning for the fellas, with an assumption of more general upper body strength.
We start with 12 kg as even the brawniest of dudes will get good use from one for mobility-oriented lifts like arm bars and windmills as well as advanced get-up and bottoms-up press work. From here, I like to recommend a pair of 20 kg (44 lb) kettle bells as this seems to be a sweet spot for double bell complexes.
The good news is there are plenty of trusted online sellers that offer quality kettle bells. Here’s my top-5 list of recommended kettle bell brands and merchants based on my own personal use (all links are affiliate):
These kettle bells come in different weights and you can make use of these equipments as you do lunges, shoulder presses, and lifts. The kettle bell workouts get your heart pumping and are quite beneficial in burning calories, offering body flexibility and many other things.
Kettle bell exercises mostly targets areas like the core, arms, glutes, legs, and back. These kettle bells come in weights that range from 5-100 pounds and you can purchase them from sporting goods stores or from online retailers.
There is a short review of research on kettle bell exercises that teaches about some workouts and its benefits. Kettle bell exercises stimulate an incredible amount of abdominal contraction because of their explosive conditioning movements.
The abdominal contraction along with coordinated breathing offers quite a high level of conditioning that actually has made kettle bells popular among athletes and fighters. In one study there was absolutely clear evidence of some effective positive changes in cardiovascular health from kettle bell exercises.
Since there are several kettle bell exercises which we do with our arms in an overhead position, the muscles that are responsible for assisting our breathing process are pretty engaged in the muscular activity; thus not allowing them to assist in the process of respiratory. This in turn forces the muscles that are most responsible for the breathing process to play an even higher role in the cardiovascular health.
They also enable you for increasing your strength and building up speed and also your endurance levels simultaneously. The first thing that must be kept in mind is that your entire back and abs remain absolutely straight.
Most physical therapists value these exercises because they teach us to move in a better, stronger, and a safer way. Kettle bell exercises help you build powerful forearms and also improves your grip.
Moreover, such exercises also allow you to devote your attention towards your skill, strategy, rest and recovery. The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile.
Kettle bell workouts offer a lot of flexibility. Sign up for a kettle bell class at the gym or online 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 sign up for classes in person or online 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.
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 through 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.
Continued 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.
You can adjust by using lighter kettle bells and avoiding certain moves. Sources American Council on Exercise: “Exclusive ACE research examines the benefits of kettle bells.”
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