Simple designs tend to be the best and the Kettlebell is a great example of that principle. The humble kettlebell is a cast iron ball with a large handle that is used in a variety of strength training and conditioning exercises.
Also known as a girya (the Russian name), the kettlebell has been used by Russian strongmen and athletes for well over a century. The bulk and weight of the kettle-bell is extended beyond the hand. This unique positioning of the weight makes it more difficult to control and necessitates ballistic and swinging movements. The formidable handle works the forearms and the swinging motions utilize multiple muscle groups – which users believe gives them benefits over other free-weights or dumbbells.
Benefits of Kettlebell Training
The kettlebell can provide a short, efficient workout that has the benefits of longer, traditional two-hour workouts. Studies have shown that the average participant burns roughly 20 calories per minute during a kettlebell workout. A 30 minute workout can burn up to 600 to 700 calories.
Kettlebells are commonly used in a form of strength training called Ballistic Training. These training sessions can consist of a series of exercises preformed in succession. The sessions are usually tailored to improve a particular set of muscle groups that may be important for a specific sport or activity. For example, a tennis player many want to develop his or her ability to produce “explosive” power quickly through the legs.
By focusing on core strength, the kettlebell provides a holistic fitness regimen. There are at least dozens of variations of kettlebell exercises. The exercises can include one-arm and two-arm variations of the same basic exercise. A detailed explanation of exercises is beyond the scope of this article, but there are many books and other resources available that delve into much greater detail on the various kettlebell exercises.
Common Kettlebell Exercises
- Squats – Back Squats
Front Squat with 2 Kettlebells
One Arm Split Jerk
Two Arm Kettlebell Jerk
One Arm Kettlebell Clean
Open Palm Clean
Two Arm Open Palm Clean
Straight arm trunk rotation with kettleball
Supine trunk twists with kettleball
Supine trunk rotation with partner
Supine Shoulder Shift
- One-Arm Kettlebell Row
One-Arm Split Snatch
- Turkish Get Up
- Single and Double Kettlebell Windmill
- Alternating Press on Balance Board
- Between the Legs Pass
- Kettlebell Swing
Golf Swing with kettleball
- Kettle bell jumps
- See Saw Press
Kettlebell Clean Instructional Video
The Kettlebell has been gaining popularity as a strength training technique outside the realm of professional athletes. Many practitioners are raving about the efficient, effective workouts that kettlebells provide. Gyms and fitness centers are also aware of this rising popularity and many are now offering training programs that focus on the kettlebell with some gyms even focusing solely on the kettlebell.
Kettlebells are available in many different weights. They are typically cast iron or concrete and may have a protective vinyl coating. Individual kettlebells typically cost between $20 and $60 depending the on weight and material used. Adjustable kettlebells can be purchased from $50 up to $200.
The era of the strongman may once again be upon us. If your exercise routine has become a bit stale and boring you may want to consider giving a kettlebell a swing.
- DUWE, GINA “Kettlebell gym provides results, members say”. Janesville Gazette, The.
- FLECK, S., AND K. KONTOR. Complex training. NSCA J. 8:66–68. 1986.
- Warner, Jennifer. “Kettlebell Workouts Burn Calories Fast.” WebMD Health News. 12 February 2010.