10 Reasons Why I Love Kettlebells
As a FitTag Ambassador, in honor of the #FitTag hashtag for the week of September 22, 2014 #Kettlebells, I put together this post. You can follow FitTag on twitter @FitTag, on Instagram @FitTag and on Facebook .
In no particular order, here are 10 reasons why I love kettlebells:
Kettlebells promote symmetry. Since you have to train each side of your body separately when training with kettlebells, each side must build up its own strength and skill to work with a particular kettlebell weight.
For example, I am right side dominant and when I was training for my kung fu black belt, I would do all of my weapons forms with my right side. As a result, I was extremely asymmetrical as my right side was much stronger than my left side.
Now, we will never be perfectly symmetrical, but after working with kettlebells very regularly since receiving my kung fu black belt 5 years ago, my left side is just as strong as my right side.
I can press and get-up the same weights on both sides for the same number of repetitions.
One of the additions to my weekly exercise program that I found helped to build the most symmetry was training get-ups every time I train AND programming in one day that I train 3 sets of 3 repetitions of get-ups one time per week.
Lowest System Load
Kettlebells allow you to train with the lowest system load for maximal results.
Let’s take the kettlebell swing for example, the purpose of the kettlebell swing is maximal force production. Therefore, if the correct force is applied to an 8kg (~18lbs) kettlebell, that 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs. If an 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs with the correct force applied, imagine how much a 24kg (~53lbs) kettlebell can weigh if the correct force is applied?? Subsequently, the kettlebell swing can help to improve dead-lift strength because it allows you to use the lowest system load for maximal results. You are getting the most bang for your buck, by using less weight. As such, if you do not have a heavy weight available to you for dead-lifts, then just do a few sets of perfect kettlebell swings and apply maximal force, and you just worked towards a stronger dead-lift.
Compact and Portable
Kettlebells are compact and portable and make a great home gym. They don’t take up a lot of space and they are easy to travel with on road trip vacations. I even have clients who pack one in their suitcase when they travel on planes for vacations and business trips!
The asymmetrical shape of the kettlebell translates to the asymmetrical shape of loads and packages that we lift in real life. Therefore, whatever you do in the weight room with a kettlebell translates to activities in real life. Many times I’ve had clients comment that they caught themselves doing a get-up to get up and down from the ground, or when they went to lift their groceries or suitcase they immediately are reminded of the farmers carries they do in their training with kettlebells. For me, lifting kettlebells helps me to lift and carry 44lb Poland Spring water bottles from the front porch to store on our back stairs!
Efficiency with Inefficiency
The kettlebell swing is an inefficient exercise in that it’s not something that you can do for a long period of time versus riding a bike, which is a very efficient exercise as you can ride a bike all day long. By being inefficient, you maximize your training time by burning the most calories in a short period of time simply by training 10 to 15 minutes of kettlebell swings or a kettlebell complex.
Combines Strength and Cardio Training Into One Compact Package
Kettlebell training involves both grinds (strength movements) and ballistics (cardiovascular training). With one single kettlebell, and one simple 30-minute workout, you can train both strength and cardio together.
(See swings for cardio above and front squats for strength below!)
Many kettlebell movements, like the kettlebell swing, are compound movements. Compound movements are total body movements therefore you have to recruit more muscles in order to complete the movement, versus an isolated exercise like the shoulder press alone. Since you recruit more muscles when training a compound movement, you burn more calories in a shorter period of time. The more muscles you recruit to perform a movement, the more calories burned, the more bang for your buck and the more you maximize your time training especially if you only have a short time allotted to train.
For example, the kettlebell front squat is a compound movement as multiple joints must work together to complete the movement. Not only are you using your legs to lower your body into the descent and press into the ascent of the squat, but you are also engaging your abdominals and your lats along with all of the muscles of your upper body to support the weight in front of you and to maintain an upright posture.
Builds Strong Glutes and Are Good For Your Back
All kettlebell ballistic movements, like the kettlebell swing, are based upon the hip hinge and loading the glutes properly. By training the hip hinge and loading the glutes properly on a regular basis you will strengthen your glutes, build a stronger and shapelier booty, and take the stress of load away from your back and transfer it to your hips and glutes which are equipped to handle load.
In addition, kettlebell training teaches bracing and maintaining a stiff stable spine while managing an unstable load. Per Dr. Stuart McGill, symmetric stiffening of all the muscles surrounding the spine without hollowing or pushing out the abdominal wall is a superior technique. Kettlebell training helps to improve the spine bracing skill.
Double 48kg (212lbs) Kettlebell Dead-Lift
Always Challenging, Never Boring
I have been training with kettlebells for over 6 years now. It is the primary tool that I use to train, and it never gets boring. To me it’s like a martial art, there is always something more to work on, something more to improve, something more to learn. There are endless combinations of movements from swing intervals, to complexes and chains, and working with both single and double kettlebells.
Supports Skill and Coordination
Kettlebell training helps to support skill and coordination. The more you improve the skill, the more muscles you recruit correctly, the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, and the more you benefit from kettlebell training.