What is a Kettlebell?

Posted on 14. Jan, 2009 by in Exercise, Exercise Equipments

If you don’t have a clue what a Kettlebell is, here is a picture of the ones that I own (right).

8 kg and 16 kg Kettlebells

8 kg and 16 kg Kettlebells

Kettlebells (KB) can come in different colors but it is basically a round ball made of metal, usually cast iron, with a thick handle on it. Their weight can either be measured in kilograms or pounds and can go from 8 lbs and up. KBs originally came from Russia which they have been using to train their military branches way before KBs were introduced in the United States by the Russian strength coach, Pavel Tsatsouline. I can talk about the history of KBs in more detail but I think that the benefits of using it will benefit you more.

The Kettlebell is fast becoming one of the most popular training equipment in the fitness and entertainment industry because of its versatility. Ironically, I first heard about them while I was reading Reader’s Digest (yes, I read them…haha) in an article interviewing Katherine Hiegl (who is hot by the way). Hiegl was asked what she does to stay in shape and she mentioned that she works out with kettlebells twice a week for 20 minutes. I remember going, “are you serious?”

So, the curious creature that I am, I Googled the word “Kettlebell” and I landed on the
Dragon Door Publications web site. Back then, there were only a handful of retailers selling kettlebells and sometimes their sales people (try the kitchen section?) did not even know what the heck I was talking about. To make the long story short, I bought two Kettlebells one is 8 kg. and the other one is 16 kg. I also bought an instructional DVD entitled, From Russia with Tough Love, by Tsatsouline. I know, it sounds corny but it really is tough love. I highly recommeng this DVD too because Tsatsouline goes over all the basics in every excruciating detail to make sure that you train safe.

Beginners usually start with 8 kg (~ 18 lbs) for women and 16 kg (~ 36 lbs) for men. This is a good guideline to follow because even if you’ve been lifting for awhile, Kettlebell workouts can be tough. Unlike traditional strength training or weight lifting, KBs can give you a full body workout because you are incorporating several muscle groups in one exercise. Some examples of these exercises are the KB swings and the Overhead Presses. Side note: If you look at my video from the third Turbulence Training challenge, I was doing both exercises somewhere in the middle of the video. Some other excercises that are reserved for more advanced KB users are jerks, snatches and the Turkish get up which I haven’t even done yet.

Here are some great benefits of KBs and KB workouts:

  • Builds strength and endurance which can be great for sports training or just doing everyday activities like lifting heavy objects, etc.
  • Builds core strength due to the use of your stabilizer muscles
  • The KBs compact size makes it easy to travel with. It’s like a mini-gym in a ball.
  • They can be a fun, cheaper, and more effective alternative to boring cardio
  • You can look cool (or weird) doing some exercises because no knows what the heck you’re doing (that is, if you work out in a public place)
  • KBs can double as a lethal weapon…j/k but be careful with them if you have pets or kids…haha

So, now that you’ve had your introduction to the kettlebell, I’d like to leave you with my “light” day workout. It’s not necessarily light because I sweat profusely after this workout but it is a quicker workout than my regular ones. Here it is:

Warm-up: 50 repetitions (reps) with 8 kg KB swings

Workout circuit:

30 reps with 8 kg KB swings
20 reps with 16 kg KB swing
10 Burpees
3 Eccentric Chin-ups (lowering part only for 7 seconds each time)
I took a 1 minute rest and repeated the circuit 3 more times.

This workout usually lasts for about 20 minutes but boy those are 20 minutes of hard work! The good thing about this workout is I always have fun doing them. It never gets old because there are many other KB exercises to choose from which are just as tough, if not tougher. I can almost feel the fat melt off of me when I do these!

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