They target stuff that I am notoriously bad at: grip strength and cardio. It is not easy to do one-handed ballistics with a heavy kettle bell if you can't close your hand around the handle!
Swings were not really fun to me, but they did wonders to my posterior chain and posture. Use a competition bell with 35 mm handle diameter (so that I can barely close my hand around it)
Switch between normal and thumbless grip to manage fatigue and callus pain I am happy that I've managed to follow a training program for so long.
My glutes are more defined, my waist is thinner and my anterior pelvic tilt appears to be gone. I've also forgotten when was the last time I had back pained while sitting in the office.
BTW thanks r/ kettle bell community for posting and discussing form checks. A: There's even more to say on this subject, but the most frequent answer in this sub is the “Simple and Sinister” program designed by popular kettle bell instructor Pavel Tsatsouline.
It is described in his book Simple and Sinister (which you should buy if you intend to follow the program), but the basics -- enough to get started -- are detailed below. But I think there are several reasons why good quality kettle bells are worth springing for.
Good quality kettle bells have smooth handles of uniform thickness and comfortable texture. And, they won't have molding seams making them wobbly or hard to hold.
With that in mind, here are a bunch of brands of kettle bell you won't regret buying. Kettle bell Kings offers 'free shipping' in the US; in other words, the cost of shipping is flat regardless of how far you live from their Austin, TX headquarters, and added into the price of the bell.
2021 Update: in the last few years (at least since COVID-19) KB Kings prices have gone up dramatically. A 35 lb powder coat kettle bell is currently $165 (perpetually 'marked down' from $195) with free shipping.
CFF offers 'free shipping' in the US; in other words, the cost of shipping is flat regardless of how far you live from their warehouses (in Lancaster, PA and Phoenix, AZ); and added into the price of the bell. A 35 lb Powder Coat kettle bell from CFF is $78 shipped as of this writing.
Rogue is the brand of choice for many high-end CrossFit gyms/boxes, and their bells are built to take daily abuse. Anecdotally, Rogue's bells have a slightly 'rougher' finish than CFF or KB Kings -- a little easier to grip when sweaty, good with chalk, but a little more 'coarse' on your hands.
First Place offers free shipping on orders over $45, but charges a surcharge ($10-$30) on heavier bells Frustratingly, VF currently only offers FedEx Ground for kettle bells, making their shipping costs significantly higher than other brands, particularly if you live farther away.
Again Faster is a company I don't see mentioned much around this Subreddit; but I personally own several kettle bells of theirs that I really like, so I'm putting them on the list. The finish in their kettle bells is smoother than Rogues, but still drippy; and have a very high-quality feel.
Here is a recent video comparing Kettle bell Kings to Rogue and CAP. (Summary: he thinks Kettle bell Kings are the best, but recommends Rogue as good at their price point.)
If you think you might be on the outer edges of the bell curve, either because you're an experienced weightlifter or because you've been sedentary for a while and are maybe of below-average strength, you've got a few options. Strong people will still find 20 or 35 lbs useful for learning form and aerobic work; and people who aren't so strong will get stronger quickly while learning the techniques.
If you're still unsure, you can head to a gym or store stocked with kettle bells, or even dumbbells. One metric is to choose the heaviest kettle bell (or comparable weight dumbbell) you can comfortably overhead press for reps.
But if it is frequently recommended for beginners (and experienced athletes new to kettle bell training as well). It's built around only two exercises, so there is a lower skill barrier to getting started than programs with more movements to learn.
If it's between spending half an hour doing your first SAS workout, or half an hour reviewing different programs trying to decide, my recommendation is to start with Simple and Sinister today, and shop around for your ideal beginner program tomorrow. Gradually reduce rest until you can complete 100 reps of 1-handed swings with perfect form in 5 minutes.
Eventually, you'll become strong enough to take 10 minutes to do your 10 reps (5 per side), maintaining a roughly 1:1 work:rest ratio (alternating 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for 10 minutes). The book is absolutely worth buying, because it goes into incredible detail about how to perform the movements safely, and how to be smart about progressing up through the program.
(2020 note: The Revised Edition of Simple & Sinister presents a routine that is very similar to the above, but incorporating a progression that is even more effective than what I've described. Rather than update my post to share the revised ed, which feels like plagiarism, my suggestion for a beginner is: feel free to use the above as a starting point, but buy the book as soon as possible to get the most up-to-date version of the program.)
In the simplest terms, Hard style focuses a little more on explosive power, and shorter sets with heavier weights. Competition kettle bells typically use a uniform color scheme to distinguish different weights.
Hard style kettle bells are often black, sometimes with weight -distinguishing colored stripes where the handle meets the bell. What kind of kettle bell you buy depends on what program you decide to follow.
I wrote a post a few years ago meant to answer the most frequently asked questions in this Subreddit at that time. The FAQ is a great list of resources, but it is maybe a bit overwhelming for someone coming in for some super-basic advice.
(If you find this post helpful, I'd selfishly love it if you shot me a one-sentence message to let me know. If you have thoughts, suggestions, or find broken links, feel free to reach out as well.)
I live in South Korea and kettle bells are a real chunk of change here... Is it safe/possible to attach barbell weights to a kettle bell to make progress more wallet friendly? Thought I'd share my experience with the 10,000 KBS challenge.
My glutes and forearms felt way stronger by the end and my times were way better (see chart). I was pretty worried about getting blisters since I couldn't take a day off, so I used gymnastics grips from the beginning.
Have been doing kettle bell and ring workouts for 9 months or so 5 × a week (pandemic left me with only a 28 kg KB and a set of rings). I decided to do the challenge 19 days before leaving for vacation.
Started with the usual 10-15-25-50 x5 scheme with 1-2-3 reps of the supplemental movement. I preferred that rep scheme, so I mostly stuck with that the rest of the challenge.
Those last 5 days were awesome because I was beating some of my earlier times while doing an extra 100 swings. The Longest time: 29:56 — 25-25-50 x5 swings, 3×3 pull ups in between the sets
That being said, the number of people fit and skilled enough to perform 25+ high-quality swings in a set without losing technique is very small relative to the number of people swinging kettle bells, so this question is really only valid in the context of a skilled kettlebeller. Once a person learns proper technique around the mechanics and properly swinging a bell, ideally by taking an HK course or working with an ROC trained professional, they should use the following program to help determine their next workout’s acute variables:
Strength Endurance B: Breathing Ladders at standard weight (Rest period is measured in inhalations equal to half the number of reps performed in the Swing, often starting with 20 swings and dropped by two each round) Naturally, once a person has 10,000 or so swings under their belt, they are going to become significantly stronger and much more efficient than they are today.
Dedicated kettlebellers will need to raise their “standard weight to 24-32 kg or more with time, although the same reps and math will apply. You’ve breached the barbells and dominated dumbbells, but if you’re still steering clear of kettle bells you’re missing out on arguably the best burn at the gym.
“When performed correctly, all kettle bell exercises are full-body moves, so you’re using more muscles and burning more calories,” says Toronto-based strength coach Chris Lopez, Strongest Level II kettle bell instructor and owner of KettlebellWorkouts.com. Think about a baseball bat, says trainer Jason C. Brown, creator and owner of certification program Kettle bell Athletics.
“Kettle bells create a longer lever arm, which requires you to use more force to move an equal weight the same distance,” Brown says. This recruits more muscles, challenges inter- and intramuscular coordination, and generally delivers one hell of a burn.
But resistance is assistance, so going too light or too heavy can compromise technique — not to mention increase your risk of injury with the added momentum of most moves, Brown adds. The dead lift is a multi joint move, so the average guy can probably handle 32 kg/70 lbs here to start, Brown says.
Not only are your shoulders and abs working hard to keep you stable, but there’s more challenge to your grip since all the weight is in one hand. “Most use a goblet squat solely as a mobility exercise — they get low and do a hip pry.
“It teaches a powerful hip snap and can be a great bicep and PEC builder — but it’s difficult to master the clean unless you really have your swing dialed-in,” Lopez says. Turkish Get-Up This move involves a lot more than just lying down and standing up with a weight overhead.
“The get-up is known in most training circles as the perfect exercise because the whole move — all 14 steps — includes every possible human movement pattern,” Lopez explains. Lopez actually makes clients ace all 14 steps while balancing their shoe on their fist before they’re allowed to try it with a kettle bell (you can opt for a two-pound dumbbell to save face at the gym).
When you feel confident that you have the form down sans resistance, reach for a 12 kg/26 lb kettle bell. Since form is so imperative here, Lopez says you shouldn’t move up a weight until you’re able to maintain perfect vertically with your arm, keep the elbow fully locked throughout all 14 steps, and feel comfortable going slow (most people rush due to discomfort).
But because it doesn’t require swinging momentum or extension, a carry has a lower risk of injury than other kettle bell moves, which means you can go a bit heavier. Grab a kettle bell that’s the equivalent of half your body weight to carry in each hand, Brown recommends.