Dumbbells, barbells, and cable machines oh my! How many types of resistance equipment can you spot in your local fitness center? While it is no surprise that weight training can be carried out with various equipment how often do you change it up? In order to reach goals while keeping it fresh, venturing out and changing up your routine is vital. Are kettlebells a part of your workout routine? The recent hype surrounding kettlebells in the fitness world is clear but how much does the daily gym goer really know about this form of resistance training? Whether you have never touched a kettlebell in the gym, or you’re already a kettlebell enthusiast, this article will shed some light on the history of this equipment as well as how it relates to you!
What is it?
So what exactly is a kettlebell? The exact definition reads as follows, “a round weight with a flat bottom and thick handle on top that is used for exercise and weight training.” (1) Kettlebells are unique because they integrate full body, multi-joint movements. When training with this piece of equipment there is an integration of both cardiovascular and musculoskeletal training. (2) Another unique attribute of this resistance lies in how the weight is positioned. According to Kettlebell Science, “The shape of the kettlebell allows for unique positioning of the weight directly above your center of mass and allows you to keep you hand and wrists in neutral alignment, which enable for greater endurance and longevity in the core lifts (swings, clean and press, snatches), so that you can produce a much higher volume of exercise and thus greater conditioning and fitness.” (2) By using full body kettlebell movements, stabilizing muscles are also forced to worked. These full scale movements utilize multiple muscles groups, therefore making this form of resistance more effective than more traditional equipment such as dumbbells.
Where Did They Come From?
The history of kettlebells is broad. This resistance has existed for centuries, however exactly where they got their start is still under debate. Evidence of kettlebells has been traced back to Ancient Greece in archaeological records. (2) More famously is the kettlebell’s history in Russia. This country was the first place to recognize the word “kettlebell” in their dictionary and it was common practice for them to be swung and lifted at difference Russian celebrations as a feat of strength. (2) The benefit of kettlebells was quickly noted, and they began to be used for health benefits. The Russian military even incorporated kettlebell training into its conditioning for soldiers, showcasing Russian pride of this piece of equipment. Kettlebells were not brought to North America until the late twentieth century. In 2001 the RKC certification was created in order to train instructors on the art of kettlebell conditioning.(2)
Why Use Kettlebells?
The benefits of kettlebell training are clear from the first time you pick up this equipment. The most noticeable to those working out, whether athlete or gym newbie, is the cardiovascular effect kettlebells have when training. As earlier mentioned, the ballistic exercises done with kettlebells allow the body to work as a single unit. Exercises such as kettlebell swings recruit multiple muscle groups such as the low back, shoulders, and quadriceps. (3) This hard work done during kettlebell exercises also sets calorie burn on fire. The more muscle groups involved, the more calories to be burned. Apart from intense exercise kettlebells can also serve as tools for active recovery. Rest and recovery are important for all who engage in physical activity, using kettlebells for light workouts once or twice a week can actually improve recovery by pumping blood into recuperating muscles. (3) By using specific kettlebell drills during active recovery you can improve hand-eye coordination and grip strength, as well as mental focus. The physical benefits of kettlebells can improve your overall fitness, but don’t disregard the new energy it will bring to a stale workout plan. Kettlebells bring new and different exercises into your routine, adding some variety and excitement. What about your favorite dumbbell exercise? Try it out with a kettlebell! The positioning of this piece of resistance equipment will challenge you while incorporating the old favorites.
So what are you waiting for? Even if you have never touched a kettlebell while getting your sweat on at the gym, it’s never too late to try. There are many online references with large data bases of kettlebell exercises. Or even better, come join us for a kettlebell class workout this week! Incorporating this resistance into your workout can only make you more well rounded in your fitness journey. The proof lies within the years of research and success created surrounding kettlebells. Once you try it you will never go back!
1) Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. .
2) “Kettlebell History.” KETTLEBELL SCIENCE. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. .
3) “The Benefits of Kettlebell Training for Athletes!” Bodybuilding.com – Huge Online Supplement Store & Fitness Community! N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. .