Although kettlebells have been around for centuries, they have only recently become a workout sensation with bells of all sizes, shapes, colors, and weights found in gyms and fitness centers around the world. Their unique history, simple exercises, and incredible benefits make kettlebells a marvel to health and fitness; however, we can only begin to tell all there is to tell about kettlebell training here.
It is thought that kettlebells originated in Russia, probably around the 18th century; they were used as counterweights in the measuring of dry goods such as grain. And like all men from the beginning of time, the weights became an object for challenging strength. They eventually found their way into the hands of the circus strong man. In the 1940s, the Soviet Union used them to train their soldiers in both strength and agility. By the 1970s, kettle bells became an official sport for the Soviets. Today, these weights, with their simple ball and handle, are standard equipment in the exercise industry.
The range of exercises and movements you can do with a kettle bell are almost limitless; the key is to use proper technique. The world wide web is full of workout videos for all levels of training and ability, but there are some basics that every kettlebell user should know about.
- The Swing—The most basic but the most effective, the swing represents a total body workout. Starting in a squat position, the kettlebell is swung from between the legs and up to shoulder height, finishing in a standing position.
- The Squat—There are many variations on this basic move, but the idea is to use the quads in conjunction with the upper body to move the weight to various positions.
- The Press—Similar to a dumbbell press, the kettlebell press uses the upper body to push the weight up. Unlike typical press-up exercises, however, the kettlebell press uses the shoulder’s natural plane of motion to complete the exercise, thus improving the strength training and reducing the risk of injury
As you learn all about kettlebell training, one thing you will discover is the overwhelming potential this form of exercise has for improving overall strength, stability, and balance. The core is more involved, grip strength is increased, and cardiovascular conditioning is escalated. Another great benefit of these special weights is their portability; some are even collapsible, so you can stick them in your suitcase and fill them with water or sand when you arrive at your destination.
As with any new workout routine, you should consult a physician before beginning, especially given the intensity of many of the kettlebell routines. You should also seriously consider consulting a professional, certified kettlebell instructor to learn proper form and technique.