Swing Your Way to Strength and Power with Kettlebell Training Exercises!
What is Kettlebell Training?
Perhaps you noticed mysterious objects looking like cannonballs with handles cropping up all around your gym and wondered what was up. No, they’re not super-heavy spoutless tea kettles: they are kettlebells, and when you know how to handle them, they lead to fast gains in strength, endurance, and flexibility while obliterating your body fat.
Kettlebell training exercises go by intriguing names such as the Turkish Get-Up, the Iron Cross, the Renegade Row, and the Bear Crawl just to name a few. Basic moves include swings, jerks, and snatches. These engaging exercises can provide a welcome change of pace from a workout routine that has gotten stale.
Kettlebells, also known as giyra, have their origins in Russia. Originally used as a unit of measurement on farming and market scales, they were eventually adopted by the Russian military and then Russian Olympic athletes for use in strength training and conditioning programs. Today, kettlebells are used in gyms and by personal trainers due to their ability to deliver an amazing workout in a relatively short time. You can even become a competitive kettlebell lifter, jerking and snatching with the best of them!
Read on to learn about the unique benefits of kettlebell training exercises, how to execute a basic kettlebell swing, where to find kettlebell training videos and kettlebell DVDs, how to find kettlebell instruction near you, and finally how fitness professionals can earn a kettlebell certification.
Benefits of Kettlebell Training Exercises
Consider the following benefits of kettlebell training over traditional strength training modalities, as identified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine:
- Kettlebell training exercises combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise, leading to total body conditioning.
- Kettlebell workouts cause increased oxygen uptake, leading to beneficial cardiorespiratory adaptations.
- Kettlebell exercises involve multiple joints and muscle groups, leading to greater synching of prime mover, synergist, and stabilizer muscles.
- Functional strength is better built through kettlebell training when compared to traditional strength training muscle isolation exercises.
- Increased involvement of the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, glutes, and deep spine muscles) leads to higher functional strength and power.
- Kettlebell training exercises also recruit core muscles to build core stability, core strength and power.
- Kettlebell training increases metabolic demand, leading to greater caloric expenditure for your time investment, meaning faster weight loss.
And if all that wasn’t enough, kettlebell training also offers improvements to the following aspects of fitness:
- Grip strength
- Mental focus
- Overall athleticism
That being said, it must be acknowledged that kettlebells are not as effective as traditional strength training for building maximum strength. You still need traditional isolation exercises such as the bench press, etc. to build maximum strength in specific muscles. So if maximal strength is part of your goals, you’ll want to use a combination of kettlebell training and traditional strength training to get you there instead of choosing one or the other.
How to Do Kettlebell Swings
First, please understand that safety needs to come first when starting a new form of exercise. A lot can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing with kettlebells. There is a specific way in which kettlebells must be handled, and these basic instructions are not meant to substitute for in-person instruction!
In the sample video you can see what a basic Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing looks like.
Listen to the instructions carefully to make sure you understand proper form so you don’t hurt your back. Keep the lower back neutral and look straight ahead or slightly up, never down. Crunch your abs and glutes to stabilize, and drive through all four corners of the foot, especially the heel. Never use gloves with kettlebells, as the handle needs to be able to rotate in your hand.
How to Find Kettlebell Instruction
There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to handle a Kettlebell. When used correctly, Kettlebells are extremely effective for gaining strength, endurance, and range of motion while burning body fat, but when used incorrectly, they are the fast track to injury. Perfect form throughout the entire set of repetitions of each and every exercise is essential. Thus, it’s highly recommended that you learn how to use Kettlebells from a trained professional.
There is currently no central hub for finding Kettlebell instruction by location. I recommend doing a web search for “Kettlebell instruction (your location)” to find classes near you. Many personal trainers hold additional Kettlebell certifications and you can learn from them one-on-one. Also, many gyms offer group instruction in Kettlebell training exercises for a lower price tag.
If there are no local Kettlebell trainers near you, another option is to learn Kettlebell training through video instruction via DVD or YouTube. Remember though, Kettlebell training is fairly specialized so proper form and technique is crucial to avoid injury and to get the most out this unique form of exercise. For this reason, I highly recommend that you only go this route if you are currently physically fit and well versed in other forms of exercise. Now even if you meet this criteria, you will still want to pay close attention to each and every instructional cue given and watch each demonstration multiple times before trying an exercise yourself. Following these basic guidelines will help you get the most out of Kettlebell training videos.
Popular Kettlebell Training DVDs
- Steve Cotter is a veteran Kettlebell expert. Check out one of his many DVDs and books if you’re looking to get serious with Kettlebell training.
- If you want to learn how to do Kettlebell training exercises at home, check out Lauren Brooks’ great instructional DVDs.
- Personal trainer Bob Harper also has some cool Kettlebell training DVDs especially emphasizing the cardio aspects.
- Or check out one of the many other great kettlebell DVDs on the market here.
Kettlebell Training Videos on YouTube
There are tons of kettlebell instructional videos on Youtube.com. If you choose to use Youtube as a resource when learning exercises, bear in mind that not everyone posting videos knows what they are doing. Read bios to make sure the instructor is accredited.
Here are a couple legit sources of YouTube kettlebell videos:
- Mahler25: Mike Mahler is a certified kettlebell instructor and strength coach with many videos demonstrating and discussing kettlebell training technique. Here’s Mike Mahler demonstrating the Turkish Get-Up.
- KBAdvantage: Founded by certified kettlebell instructor Mike Erickson. Lots of videos demonstrating form and technique, as well as full workouts using kettlebells. Here’s Mike Erickson demonstrating a Kneeling Military Press.
How to Get a Kettlebell Certification
Perhaps you’re a fitness professional looking to get in on the kettlebell craze to be able to offer your clients an interesting and effective way to work out.
A professional kettlebell certification will ensure that you are training your clients correctly, allowing them to maximize the benefits of kettlebell training while avoiding injury.
Kettlebell certification courses are offered throughout the world. Many are approved as continuing education credits to maintain your personal trainer certification. The workshops are generally conducted in person so your skills can be tested before they hand out the certification.
Some of the most highly respected organizations offering kettlebell certifications include Kettlebell Concepts, Dragon Door, and the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation. Be sure to double-check that the program you attend is approved for continuing education credits by your certification program. As you probably already know, NASM, ACSM, ACE and the others may approve different courses for continuing education.