It is unclear as to when kettle bells officially became a recognized tool for strength and conditioning, however it's estimated their history dates back over 300 years. Known as a “girl” in Russia, kettle bells were originally used to help balance scales while weighing crops.
Russians soon figured out that a heavy thing with a handle was pretty good for exercise, too. The man most notable for Westernizing the kettle bell is Pavel Tsatsouline, chairman of Strongest Inc. and former PT drill instructor for Smetana.
Entire workouts can be executed with nothing more than a single kettle bell, whether the aim is strength, hypertrophy, power or endurance. A kettle bell is relatively small (though I dare not say it's “light,” as that all depends on the weight you select) and relatively affordable in comparison to most other gym equipment.
Compared to training with machines or even dumbbells, the kettle bell provides variability and offsets the load so that no one rep is ever truly the same. Kettle bell exercises can at times be the biggest bang for your fitness buck, targeting numerous muscle groups and moving you through multiple planes of motion.
As Tsatouline writes in his book Simple & Sinister, “the kettle bell is an ancient Russian weapon against weakness.” Every piece of equipment brings something unique to the table, and every person is different, so it's foolish to speak in definitive.
Barbells make it easy for a newbie to load a movement heavier than they can handle in a fixed position. A perfect example is that of a Barbell Bench Press, where the hands are pronated and the shoulders are inherently placed in an internally rotated position.
Kettle bells are a great option to keep an individual's load lower while growing their movement competency. It targets the posterior chain and teaches individuals how to hip hinge properly with some force.
This exercise involves holding the kettle bell with both hands (although single-arm and double-bell variations do exist) and using the hip hinge to forcefully drive it out in front of yourself. Your gripping muscles may eventually burn if the set is long or enough or the weight's heavy enough, but your arms and shoulders should essentially contribute no power to the movement.
Once the Kettle bell Swing is mastered, it is an excellent addition to any program or a convenient stand-alone option for a conditioning day. However, that simple act requires a lot of technique, shoulder stability, core strength, hip mobility and focus to execute effectively.
There are also many scenarios where replacing a classic barbell or dumbbell exercise with a kettle bell version can make sense. It might seem like an insignificant swap, but kettle bells naturally lead to better scapular position, making the move more effective and reducing wear and tear on your body.
Undoubtedly the kettle bell is an extraordinary tool with a long history of producing excellent results. Most of the workouts progress from one exercise to the next in circuit format without the need to put the kettle bell down or even change the weight.
Good joint stability will prevent injury occurring from unexpected movements during sports and from daily life. The Kettle bell Turkish Get Up, shown below, is the perfect exercise to improve joint stability as well as condition the full body.
Most of the dynamic kettle bell exercises are based around the hips and the buttocks where the majority of power is generated for most sports. There are also explosive upper body based movements to that will assist any throwers or martial artists.
Watch a video of the kettle bell snatch below to see both explosive hips and upper body movement in action: As the kettle bell is swung down and in between the legs the body has to decelerate the weight in order to reverse its momentum and send it back up to the top of the swing again.
Eccentric exercises develop large amounts of strength in the body because the muscles are always stronger lengthening than they are shortening (concentrically). One of the great benefits of kettlebelltraining over other types of resistance based training is that many of the movements force large amounts of eccentric loading as the weight needs to be controlled dynamically.
You also get a double conditioning effect as the body is required to work twice as hard both concentrically and eccentrically during movements. Once you have mastered the basic movements you can flow from one exercise to the next keeping your heart rate elevated and using 100’s of muscles at a time.
Our patented Dark Iron Fitness lifting straps are made of durable cowhide suede and are the perfect accompaniment to kettle bells. Their numerous benefits include strength gain, endurance, flexibility and weight loss.
Many of the movements and skills required in CrossFit focus on learning to have fast and effective hips. Dumbbells have a tight center of gravity and mainly utilize the major muscle groups.
A kettle bell ’s odd shape and off-center mass forces you to use muscles that mimic real-life activities. Its odd center of gravity forces you to do more work involving your stabilizing muscles to create explosive movements with the bell.
Enjoy the ease of use and appreciate that such a unique weight can help streamline other exercises you already do. Always practice correct form and safety in all exercises, but be content in the fact the kettle bell is one of the safer weights to work with.
If you have previously been avoiding barbell exercises due to safety concerns, look into the kettle bell alternatives. The kettle bell alternates periods of intense contraction and controlled relaxation, to give you a superior workout that combines strength, as well as endurance.
Other exercises such as the windmill, and single leg dead lift, also build flexible strength. The kettle bell stimulates tremendous abdominal contraction because of the explosive conditioning movements.
The fact you can work your core indirectly, just through the dynamic aspect of kettle bells, is truly amazing. Kettle bells are so effective because they stimulate the muscles and surpass standard cardio exercises.
This gives you a great strength and endurance workout in a shorter amount of time. So rather than moving on to a heavier kettle bell you simply complete more reps or change the exercise to a more difficult option.
If you find yourself becoming bored with traditional exercises or having to be in the gym, consider using kettle bells. This is especially valued by physical therapists because kettle bells actually teach you to move in a way that is better, stronger, and safer.
Unfortunately, many of us today lose some of our basic movements as a result of sedentary occupations and lifestyles. That’s what happens when we don’t move our bodies with the full range of motion or become used to certain unhealthy postures (like sitting in front of a computer all day).
They are terrific for overall fat loss, improving lean body mass, and helping teach proper use of the hips (important for speed and power sports). They are so effective that serious lifters should definitely consider them as a way to enhance and supplement their barbell or dumbbell workouts.
While dumbbells and barbells are popular and effective weight training options, they’re definitely not the only method of building muscle. A kettle bell swing, for instance, uses your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats and all you're stabilizing muscles as well, such as your core.
If your core is not activated, you can’t get a weight into the air during a clean and press without putting untold pressure on your back. You need balance and pelvic floor strength to complete a set of kettle bell swings, while coordination is crucial for getting through any heavy weights' session safely.
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