Do you want to know what KettleBell exercises are? Or what is a KettleBell?
If you’ve been frequenting a gym for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed those strange bowling ball shaped pieces of iron sitting alongside the dumbbell rack.
You may have even seen them being swung around. What you may not realise is that they are possibly the most versatile and productive piece of equipment in the entire gym.
If you’ve not using them yet, it’s about time you got schooled up on the Kettlebell exercise advantage.
Why Use Kettlebell Exercises?
The Kettlebell is an awkward piece of equipment to handle – and therein lies it’s value. It has a displaced centre of mass.
Unlike barbells and dumbbells, which have a central balance point around the handle, the Kettlebell has a centre of mass that is located away from the handle. This means that your body is constantly working to control the weight, recruiting a lot of stabiliser muscles that stay dormant when you’re lifting conventional free weights.
The thicker handle grip of the Kettlebell in comparison to a dumbbell will also allow the trainer to make improvement on their forearm and grip strength.
Kettlebell Exercise Benefits
- Improves explosive power and maximal strength
- Develops functional muscle mass
- Enhances muscular endurance
- Burns up to 20.2 calories per minute
- Promotes coordination among all the muscles of the body
- Blasts the often neglected but vital muscles of the posterior kinetic chain (the muscles you don’t see in the mirror)
Kettlebells or Dumbbells?
The Kettlebell is not designed as a substitute to the dumbbell.
While you can do a number of Dumbbell like exercises with Kettlebells (curls and presses come to mind), the real power of Kettlebells lies in their use of ballistic movements to improve explosive strength while shredding fat and enhancing functional fitness.
Kettlebell exercises are intended to be used with higher reps than most dumbbell movements. In fact, rather than counting reps, Kettlebell moves are usually done for a time period, such as one minute.
Are Kettlebells better than traditional free weights?
That depends on what your training goal is. If your main focus is on increasing the size of individual muscles, then free weights are the way to go.
The key to muscular size is progressive overload and free weights are the best way to achieve that end. This was shown in a recent study out of California State University, Fullerton.
Two groups of men were trained under supervised conditions for six weeks. One group used Kettlebells, the other conventional free weights. At the end of the six-week period, both groups were tested for upper and lower body strength improvement. The free weight group had made substantially more improvement in strength, as tested by such exercises as squats and bench presses.
What wasn’t tested, however, were the improvements in explosive strength and endurance along with fat loss and cardiovascular improvement. Other research, however, has quantified those training benefits.
The University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Department of Exercise and Sports Science conducted a study, which involved 30 healthy volunteers of both genders, all of whom were experienced strength trainers.
The experimental group were trained for 8 weeks on a Kettlebell program while the control group used traditional equipment. Notable results at the end of the study were that the Kettlebell group had a greater improvement in aerobic capacity, leg press, grip strength, dynamic balance and core strength (which improved by a whopping 70%). Explosive power on such moves as power cleans and snatches was also greater in the Kettlebell group.
For those who are more intent on stripping your body of fat while building an athletic physique that performs in real world situations than on developing a pure bodybuilder type physique, then, Kettlebells are the way to go.
Kettlebell training can become a part of your overall workout program. Rather than just grabbing a bell and going for it, we recommend joining a Kettlebell class or having a few of sessions with a Personal Trainer that is a qualified Kettlebell Instructor. Because the movements are dynamic, it’s important that you learn to do them correctly from the start.
J Strength Cond Res 26(5): 1199-1202, 2012: Effects of weightlifting vs. kettlebell training on vertical jump, strength, and body composition.
Clinical Exercise Physiology, December 2012: Beltz, N.M. Training benefits consequent to 8 weeks of kettlebell exercise.