As a Personal Trainer I have found kettlebells to be a wonderful exercise resource for both my own workouts and the workouts of clients I train. Kettlebells have been around for a while and surprisingly, their use dates as far back as the 6th century in Ancient Greece. In 1704, the Russian kettlebell, the form we know today, made its first appearance.
Kettlebells are basically a cast iron ball with horns on top that join to form a handle. They may or may not also be covered in vinyl. The main difference between kettlebells and traditional barbells or dumbbells is that kettlebells have an off-set center of mass due to the position of the handle. This requires an exerciser to work harder and engage more muscles in order to control the weight.
Kettlebells come in various sizes and are very versatile. Multiple body parts can be targeted by a variety of kettlebell exercises. Kettlebell users can experience improvements not only in strength, but also cardiovascular endurance and power.
When beginning with kettlebells, choosing the appropriate weight is important. Also, proper motion and form is extremely important while doing kettlebell exercises. If you are new to using kettlebells it is best to get some guidance from an experienced fitness professional.
The following list was reworked to share brief highlights from one of my favorite articles I have found on kettlebells. This article is: Hughes, L. (n.d.). Kettlebells: Benefits & Uses Guide. Origym. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk/blog/kettlebells.
Kettlebell workout benefits include:
- Increased Core Strength - Some specific exercises that help increase core strength are the renegade row, kettlebell swing, and Turkish get ups.
- Improved Balance and Coordination - With kettlebells the weight is unevenly distributed. This uneven distribution is advantageous as more muscles are needed to control the weight and remain in a stable position.
- Boosted Mobility - Kettlebell exercises are often functional exercises and incorporate multi-planar movement. Movements used include forward and back, side-to-side, twisting movements, stretching left to right, and moving from one movement to the next.
- Burned Calories (which contributes to weight loss) - “In a prominent study of 2010, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found the average calorie burn per minute during a kettlebell workout is 20 calories, which equates to as much as 400 calories per 20 minute workout. This is equivalent of running a 6 minute mile; the high-bar threshold of fast endurance running” (Hughes).
- Enhanced Cardio and Power Endurance - Kettlebell movements involve high speeds which help develop power endurance. Specific exercises include the clean and jerk or the snatch.
- Building Lean Muscle - The use of “kettlebells build gradual, lean muscle with much more natural toned results” (Hughes).
- Enhanced Flexibility - A common exercise that helps promotes flexibility is the goblet squat. This exercise helps strengthen the lower body and enable more effective movement.
- Developed Hip Strength and Speed - Hip strength is important as the body ages. Stronger hips help with everyday movement. By using a hip hinge motion or the hip swings with kettlebells, power and strength is developed.
- Improved Joint Health - “Kettlebell exercises are compound, whole-body movements that are ideal if you want to improve or maintain joint health” (Hughes).
- Identifying Muscle Weaknesses - “Kettlebells get you comfortable in uncomfortable positions” (Hughes).
- Building Grip Strength - Grip strength is important to everyday tasks. By using kettlebells and having to control the uneven weight, grip strength can be improved.
- Improved Posture and Stronger Posterior Chain - “The most important muscle group for athletes is without a doubt the posterior chain. All of these muscles contribute to functional movements and explosive power needed in sports” (Hughes).
- A Full Body Workout - A unique advantage of kettlebell use is the full body workout provided. “The majority of kettlebell exercises are compound and functional exercises. This means that these exercises will work multiple muscle groups and multiple joints simultaneously.” (Hughes).
RAC Personal Trainer Lakin Koski is from Byron, MN and has lived there her whole life. She has played college basketball for three years at three different schools: Southwest Minnesota State University, RCTC, and Metropolitan State University of Denver. When she is away from work, she really enjoys running long distances, hiking on trails at Oxbow Park, spending time with her dog Kobe, watching scary movies, and trying out every new coffee shop in town.
Contact Lakin Koski