What could be more awesome than throwing around a canon ball with a handle? We assume this was a question asked by the Russians who first added the word kettlebell into the dictionary. These interesting tools were used in ancient Greece as a feat of strength, then made their way to Russia where they were used by farmers to measure their stock. Over time they became a staple in every gym on earth.
How should you use kettlebells? Why are they so incredible? Let’s discuss.
Apart from the obvious above stated reason of handling a canon ball, kettlebells are an amazing test of your bodily strength. Why? Let’s look at some reasons.
Versatility. The simple things in training are usually the things that take you the furthest. They are the things you can keep coming back to, making progress and they will always be testing. The movements that you can manage with a kettlebell are very varied. Pretty much anything you can do with a dumbbell can be done with a kettlebell, however the design of them make them superior in many ways.
For instance, a kettlebell clean if far less risky on the shoulders, the kettlebell swing is a unique movement that carries over into the big compound lifts. Although it is generally frowned upon in a hardcore strength gym, you can do isolation work with a kettlebell too. Hammer curls are more difficult that with dumbbells due to the shape and balance.
Rear delts can be hit in a new way with reverse flyes. The positioning of the weight on a kettlebell will give you a varied stimulation on isolation movements. More stimulation, more muscle. In short, you can do almost anything with a kettlebell, a lot of the time, even better than with a dumbbell.
Hip strength. The kettlebell swing is the big daddy movement of all kettlebell training. If you ever attend a kettlebell class, it will be the main basis of the whole class. This is for good reason. The hips are the most important part of the body for strength. They join the upper and lower body, and are the main movers in squats, deadlifts, carries etc.
In more politically correct circles, this area is known as your “core”, and kettlebell swings will build it up better than a century in “core blast” class. Also, the kettlebell swing will give you an impressive rear. The glutes are firing throughout the movement, which will create that sculpted ass you’ve always dreamed of.
Conditioning and Strength. As mentioned, the kettlebell swing has a massive crossover into the big power movements. Deadlifts, cleans, snatches, sqauts, these are all directly affected by a powerful kettlebell swing. Overhead pressing, rowing and other movements can be supplemented and strengthened by adding the kettlebell equivalent to your training. With regards to conditioning, kettlebells get you seriously out of breath. A good routine of kettlebell movements will bring your conditioning levels sky high.
Kettlebell Uses & Goals
Depending on what you goals are, your use of the mighty kettlebell will be different. So let’s look at three common aims that trainees have, and see how you can implement this impressive training protocol into your existing program.
Ah yes, good old brute strength. This is where the kettlebell was designed. The ancients who put their bodies through living hell were motivated by the desire to become monstrously strong. As mentioned, to become strong, a steady diet of Squats, Deadlifts, overhead presses, Benching, Rowing is needed. So we know you are already doing this, so how can you program kettlebells into your routine to make you even stronger.
Strength tip 1 – Focus on HEAVY swings. This will help you improve your deadlift. Whilst they can be used as an activation an exercise at the beginning of your training, throwing them in once or twice a week can have a huge carryover to your lockout strength on the deadlift and your hip drive on the squat.
Strength tip 2 – Overhead presses. The overhead press is one of the ultimate tests of upper body strength, to increase your ability on the barbell overhead press, add kettlebell overhead presses into your routine. This will get your shoulder at a few new angles, and will offer a big crossover.
Strength tip 3 – Cleans and Snatches. The barbell equivalents of these movements are far more technically demanding than the kettlebell versions of them. They can add alot of strength to your frame, and help you increase numbers of your Olympic lifts.
Strength tip 4 – Try this
Physique, Aesthetics, & General Sexiness
If your main goal is to get a beautiful bodily form, then kettlebells can help you out too. If you are looking to perk up your behind, then a good routine of heavy kettlebell swings for many reps is what you are going to look for. As mentioned above, all the basic bodybuilding moves can be replicated with a kettlebell. Use this to your advantage by throwing them in and tricking your body with the slight variation that it affords you.
A few great exercises that are generally done with the kettlebell are Turkish Getups and the windmill. These can really hit your abs in a unique way, and are fantastic to use as main exercise for an ab routine. Alternatively, to use them as a finisher at the end of a session will yield some good results too.
One of the huge benefits of kettlebell training is the fact that you are essentially hitting weights and cardio in one fell swoop. If you are interested in aesthetics, this should be good news. Doing a kettlebell circuit is a great way to melt the unwanted fat off your body, and get your beach muscles involved. An example of a circuit could be:
1. Kettlebell swing Swing x 15
2. KettleBell Snatch x 10
3. KettleBell Front Squat x 15
4. KettleBell Clean and Press x 10
One minute rest. For 6 rounds.
There are endless variations of kettlebell circuits you can add to torch off your fat and make yourself look better. The trick is always to stick with the large movements to create the biggest metabolic response. Now. Go to the gym, pick up a canon ball, and throw is around like the brutish Russian farmer you know you are.