Kettle bell exercises is a way to exercise that has been practiced for more than 100 years in Russia. Traditionally done by Russian farmers and military men, the kettle bells were used in Russian celebrations and gatherings to show off the might, flexibility, and endurance of Russian men. Kettlebells were widely regarded as one of the best ways to tone up, grow muscle, and improve strength. It has only recently gained a rise in popularity due to the introduction of the exercise to the West and the improvements in technology that has been adapted into this fitness workout.
After WWII, kettlebells were increasingly treated as a sport since it resembled weight lifting, which was already a popular sport around the world. However, it was only in the 1980s when the first official kettlebell games were held in Russia. The game was later introduced to the US in 2000. Today, kettlebells can be used by anyone, from buff athletes who want to stay in peak physical shape to 70-year old grandmothers who want to maintain their muscle mass, endurance and strength even as they grow older.
What is a Kettlebell?
A kettlebell is a cast-iron weight with a metal handle. It resembles a canon ball except for the handle, which allows you to grip the bell tightly for lifting or swinging. The kettlebell varies in weight and cost. Entry-level kettle bells cost around $20-$25 dollars, with heavier weights costing more. Entry-level kettle bells weigh anywhere from 5 to 35 lbs.
Benefits of Kettle Bell Workouts
Having exercised for years, I thought there was no result that kettlebells can give for me that I have not seen before. Boy was I wrong! One of the best things I noticed once I started doing kettlebell workouts was how it engages the various muscle groups in my body that I had not used before. The way that I had to hold the bell also required me to strengthen my wrist and my forearms. The weight of the kettlebell caused immediate calorie burning that resulted to fat loss in a matter of days!
Kettlebell training helped decrease the amount of excess fat in my body by creating more muscle and removing fat through aerobic caloric burning. The dense muscle mass created also improves the body’s metabolism so I am able to burn calories faster than before. The kettlebell exercises also help correct the misalignments I may have had in my body with the highly functional movements that I had to do. These movements engage the entire body, which means that you tone and strengthen the entire body, not just portions of it. The exercises also helped me in my balance, since you often have to do balancing exercises while holding the weight of the kettlebell in your hands.
Advantages of Kettlebell Workouts over Gym Workouts
Kettlebell workouts are preferable over the traditional gym workout for a number of reasons. Aside from the fast and visible results I got with my kettlebells, I also appreciated the convenience of kettlebell workouts. When I was going to the gym, it took half an hour to prepare for the gym, and another half hour to drive and park my car. With kettlebell workouts, I get to exercise in the comfort of my home. There was no need to sign up for an expensive gym membership, no need to prepare my gym outfit, no need to make the trip from home or work to the gym just to get my workout. I also was able to save lots of money for gas and parking. Kettlebells are also portable, so I can take them even on vacation! Kettlebells give me a wide array of options of places where I can work out, from the office to the park outside my house.
Two Sample Kettlebell Exercises
The Clean and Press
The Clean and Press is done by starting with a low, squatting position and bringing the kettlebell into a racked position. You can do this by doing a one-arm kettlebell swing.
Once the bell is in the racked position on the outside of your arm, press the kettlebell overhead, lock before going back to the racked position, and back down into the squat position with the bell on the floor. When the bell is over your head, keep your shoulders at equal height – don’t lift the shoulder to reach higher. This exercise works out the entire body especially the legs, the core, the shoulders, and the back. It also improves your core stability and balance. If you have shoulder problems, this may not be a good exercise to start with. Make sure to keep your arm close to your body before you do the upward press.
The Turkish Get Up
Bend one leg, move forward and up with your torso. Bring the leg on the opposite side of the kettlebell underneath yourself and push up on that leg, and then move into a standing position. Bring bell back to racked position.
These are just two of the many workouts you can do with kettlebells. I personally like to vary my workouts from day to day to avoid a rut. Other popular exercises which are fairly easy to do include the lunge and reach, the Russian ketttlebell twists, and beyond the range pushups.
Strategies of Effective Kettlebell Workouts
There are effective ways to get the best results with kettlebells. Trainers like to remind people about the basic principles that govern the workouts. When working out with kettlebells, it is important to lift heavy, to lift explosively, and to eliminate weak links. Lifting heavier weights will cause the body to build more muscle fibers, especially type 2b muscle fibers that are the strongest muscle fibers n the body. It is equally important to manage fatigue immediately and elevate metabolism through regular workouts. Eliminating weak links involves doing corrective exercises, which can help heal a bum shoulder or heal a sore back. When body parts are working correctly, you can easily perform the kettlebell exercises with ease with less risk for added injury.
Kettle bell exercises are a great alternative to the usual exercise that you can do in the gym. These exercises are not only designed to help eliminate fat, they add strength, stability as well. These exercises are also great for realigning the center of the body so that you are in better shape to perform other kinds of exercises.
As always, check with your doctor before you begin doing any new workout or type of exercising. Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor, begin slowly with one or two exercises, adding repetitions and types of exercises as you progress and become stronger.