Kettlebell training is a unique form of fitness training that involves using kettlebells (spherical, cast iron or steel weights that resemble a cannonball with a handle). Unlike traditional weight training with barbells and dumbbells which involves slow, controlled lifts, kettlebell training is faster and more fluid and involves explosive, dynamic movements. This post will provide you with a detailed overview of kettlebell training along with the pros and cons of this form of exercise.
The History Of Kettlebell Training
Kettlebells were invented in Russia during the 1700s and were initially used by Russian farmers to weigh their crops. These Russian farmers noticed that their overall strength also improved as a result of using kettlebells and started to use kettlebells to showcase their strength during festivals.
In the 1900s, the Russian army started to use kettlebells as part of their physical conditioning programs. From the 1940s, kettlebells became a mainstream fitness tool in Russia and Europe and started to be used in fitness competitions and sport.
Kettlebells were first used in the United States in the 1960s. However, they didn’t become popular until 2001 when Dragon Door Publications and Pavel Tsatsouline developed and released the first kettlebell instructor certification program.
Kettlebell Training Basics
Kettlebells are traditionally measured by pood although many US manufacturers do produce kettlebells that are measured in pounds an kilograms. A pood is the equivalent of 16kg or 35lbs.
There are four basic styles of kettlebell training which are outlined below:
1. Hardstyle: Hardstyle kettlebell training is based around powerlifting and Gōjū-ryū karate training. In particular it focuses on the ‘kime’ technique which involves high acceleration and high tension at the correct moments during the kettlebell exercises followed by relaxation. The principle behind hardstyle kettlebell training is that most sports and life situations demand rapid switches between relaxation and tension and this style of training maximizes both.
2. Girevoy: Girevoy (also known as fluid style or sport style) is the style used in competitive kettlebell lifting. It involves completing as many kettlebell repetitions as possible within a 10 minute timeframe. Since the kettlebell cannot be placed on the ground during the 10 minute period, Girevoy movements are smoother than hardstyle movements and more emphasis is placed on endurance.
3. CrossFit: The CrossFit style of kettlebell training is based around hardstyle but does make some major modifications to certain lifts. Many of these modifications have proved controversial and are believed to be dangerous and place unnecessary strain on the body.
4. Juggling: Juggling is the least popular style of kettlebell training and involves releasing and catching the kettlebell while spinning and flipping it around the body.
The Benefits Of Kettlebell Training
Kettlebell training is very unique and because of this it has a huge range of exclusive benefits which are highlighted in the list below:
1.Balance: Performing kettlebell movements tests your center of gravity to the max and helps to develop a strong sense of balance.
2.Cardiovascular Fitness: Kettlebell training is very fast paced, blasts through a substantial 1,200 calories per hour and is a great tool for improving your cardiovascular fitness.
3.Coordination: Lifting and swinging kettlebells requires you to utilize multiple areas of your body at the same time and gives your coordination a huge boost.
4. Core Stability: All kettlebell moves strengthen the core muscles in the center of your body which has a positive impact on your posture, reduces chronic pain and much more.
5. Efficiency: Kettlebell workouts are intense and target multiple areas of your fitness at the same time. This makes them one of the most efficient fitness tools for boosting your fitness in the shortest amount of time possible.
6. Fat Loss: As mentioned above, kettlebell training burns off 1,200 calories per hour which equates to losing an impressive 0.3lbs of body fat an hour.
7. Full Body Conditioning: Unlike traditional weightlifting exercises which target specific muscle groups, kettlebell exercises work all the muscles in your body and allow you to fully condition every single one.
8. Fun: Due to its challenging, dynamic and versatile nature, kettlebell training is never boring and you’ll find that every single workout is fun and enjoyable.
9. Functional Strength: Kettlebell exercises are very practical and replicate day to day activities. As a result, they help to develop a functional type of strength that can boost your performance in everyday life.
10. Grip: Kettlebell exercises constantly work the muscles in your wrists and are one of the best tools out there for developing a solid grip.
11. Versatility: Kettlebells are very versatile and can be used to improve sports performance, enhance your balance, boost your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your muscles, tone your body, lose weight and much more.
The Disadvantages Of Kettlebell Training
Despite its long list of benefits, there are some drawbacks to kettlebell training which are discussed in the section below:
1. Injury Risk: Although kettlebells are generally safe when the proper form is applied, performing kettlebell exercises incorrectly puts you at a very high risk for lower back, shoulder, hip and knee injuries.
2. Learning Curve: Kettlebell training has a steeper learning curve than most other forms of exercise, so you do need to get a qualified professional to train you how to use them properly and take the necessary time to master the proper form.
3. Expense: If you’re planning to do kettlebell training at home, it can be expensive. Kettlebells are non-adjustable, so you need to buy new ones as your strength improves. Some of the heavier kettlebells cost $100+, so acquiring a full set can be very pricey.
4. Not Suitable For Beginners: If you’re looking for a type of exercise to begin your fitness journey, kettlebell training is not it. It requires a certain level of fitness experience and has a steep learning curve.
I hope this article has helped you learn more about kettlebell training and how it can benefit you. While it does have its drawbacks, if you have some fitness experience, kettlebell training is definitely worth a try. It can be used to achieve a wide range of fitness goals and the unique nature of kettlebell training makes it much more enjoyable than many of the alternative fitness options out there.