What is a kettlebell?
The kettlebell or girya is a cast-iron weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. They are also the primary equipment used in the weight lifting sport of girevoy sport. Russian kettlebells are traditionally measured in weight by pood, which (rounded to metric units) is defined as 16 kilograms (35 lb).
Kettlebells were developed in Russia in the 1700s, primarily for weighing crops. It is said that these farmers became stronger and found them useful for showing off their strength during festivals. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century. They had been used for competition and sports throughout Russia and Europe since the 1940s.
Unlike traditional dumbbells, the kettlebell's center of mass is extended beyond the hand. This facilitates ballistic and swinging movements. The kettlebell allows for swing movements and release moves with added safety and added grip, wrist, arm and core strengthening. The unique shape of the kettlebell provides the "unstable force" for handling - key for the effectiveness of the kettlebell exercises.
Why It Works
The weight of a kettlebell hangs a few inches below its handle, which makes it more difficult to control. Everything from your grip to your core has to work harder than if you were using a dumbbell, so you get more out of even standard dumbbell moves. This extra muscle activity means your body burns more calories. Couple that with exercises that target the whole body and you have a formula for significant fat loss.
Women of all ages LOVE the kettlebell! Not only is it a great workout, but the methods used with it make women feel empowered! The most common feedback I get from women while using the kettlebell is that it is a great workout, that it's so much fun, and that they feel strong and empowered! I find that women can push, press and swing much more weight than they ever imagined. Therefore, some good slow presses create some fast, impressive gains in muscle tone while swings create endurance efficiency.
The kettlebell is an amazing tool for obtaining your ideal body composition no matter which way it needs to go. As a personal fitness trainer, I have yet to find any client who has not benefited from the kettlebell and seen rapid improvements.
The following movements can be done with one or two kettlebells:
- Swing: The kettlebell swing is a basic kettlebell exercise that is used in training programs and gyms for improving the posterior chain muscles. The key to a good kettlebell swing is effectively hinging at the hips, creating stability through the frontal plane.
- Turkish Get-up (single bell only): A kettlebell exercise that combines the lunge, bridge and side plank to build strength. With a vertically-extended arm, the athlete transitions from laying supine on the floor to standing.
- Goblet Squat
- Front-Side Squat
- Military Press
- Push Press
- Dead Lift: Suitcase, one-leg, double KB
- Carry: Suitcase, rack, overhead
So if you have been wanted to start an exercise program or are tired of spending so much of your precious time doing workouts, I challenge you to give kettlebells a try! Get in touch with a qualified instructor to teach you proper form and give expert guidance. I'm sure you will enjoy it!
István Pribék - SFG1 Kettlebell Instructor