Kettlebells

WHAT IS A KETTLEBELL?

The kettlebell is a traditional Russian strength training and conditioning device.  Its design, a cast iron sphere with a handle, predates virtually every other piece of fitness equipment that you can find.  Kettlebells are low-tech, high concept and can have a huge impact on your fitness level.  Appearing deceptively simple, the kettlebell challenges both the muscular and cardiovascular system with dynamic, total-body movements.

KETTLEBELL LIFTING:

In recent years, many fitness experts have wisely come to reject the “health club” and bodybuilder driven concept of working individual muscles in isolation, in favor of a more functional, whole-body approach.  Kettlebell lifters have embodied this knowledge for centuries.  Rather than isolating a muscle group, it makes far more sense to move a weight using your entire body – thereby training the muscles to work in concert and strengthening the full kinetic chain of movement.

Kettlebell training strengthens the tendons and ligaments, making the connective tissue resilient and the muscles strong. Simultaneously kettlebells challenge the cardiovascular system and strengthen the bones to a high degree.  This creates wiry strength, raw power, explosive agility and a more resilient body than can be attained with Yoga or body-weight exercises alone.  Among other things, training with kettlebells stabilizes the shoulder joints and strengthens the hips and back in uniquely powerful ways.

Proper kettlebell lifting requires you to move the hips through their full range of motion in a powerful and dynamic fashion.  Compare this with the health club style machine-based workouts where you are actually sitting down most of the time!  Natural athletes move from the hips. The majority of the body’s ability to generate power comes from the hips.  Everyone has heard about the importance of core strength – a major component of the core is your hips. The strength of the extremities pales in comparison to the strength of the body’s center, which is the hips.

As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.”  Moving from the hips is a fundamental body movement that is necessary for safe, effective  and efficient movement. Unfortunately, many people lose this ability.   If you do not actively train the large muscles of the hips – they become stiff and immobile. As a result, physical performance suffers greatly and the person becomes more apt to move from the limbs – this is when injuries occur.  Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to train powerful, dynamic hip movements.

In addition to being an effective training method, kettlebell lifting is a sport unto itself.  This means that a kettlebell lifter continually practices his or her lifts, not just performs them.  Many people have heard that kettlebells are the most effective and efficient strength training tool around.  However, it is important not overlook the awareness and application of correct technique.  Attaining a working knowledge of the kettlebell on your own can be hit or miss.  It takes a skilled coach to unleash the true potential within the simple kettlebell.

CONCLUSION:

Kettlebells are an extraordinary tool.  Use them correctly and consistently and you will notice a distinct improvement in your all-around fitness.  A favorite tool of the strongmen of old, the kettlebell has enjoyed a revival of late.  These days, military personnel, the Secret Service, professional athletes and Hollywood stars are training with kettlebells. A person could read about the benefits of kettlebells all day, but as a wise man once said, “who feels it, knows it.”  The power of kettlebells will remain hidden until you feel it for yourself.