by Dan Cenidoza, CSCS, RKC, AKC
Kettlebell training is quickly becoming America's first choice for all around fitness. The results speak for themselves, but what's unique about kettlebells (besides resembling a cannonball with a handle) is that it bridges the gap between your cardiovascular training and your weight training. It's the best of both worlds, and a heck of a lot more fun than lifting weights or running on a treadmill ad infinitum.
Here are a few advantages kettlebells have over other exercise equipment:
- Freedom of movement - kettlebells can do everything dumbbells can do plus much more. Machines and their single plane of movement do not even compare! Taming a kettlebell is similar to wielding a medieval sword. By now you've heard of all the popular buzzwords like "core" "stabilizer muscles" and "explosive strength" well, with kettlebell training and the hundreds of exercises you can do with them, you can develop all that and then some!
- All-around fitness - the 5 components to physical fitness are: muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, cardio-respiratory efficiency and body composition. Kettlebell training will help you improve in all 5 of these areas. I'll save the specifics for another article and for now just tell you that it's something you'll have to experience to truly appreciate. A set of swings and a few overhead presses will get you thinking on the right track!
- The swing - the foundation of all kettlebell exercises. No other piece of equipment will allow you to do a swing like a kettlebell does, and no other exercise conditions your body like a swing does. As simple as it sounds, there is a lot to be said for swinging a weight in between your legs, slowing the momentum and redirecting that force in the face of gravity. Strong and flexible hamstrings, powerful hips and a resilient lower back is what you can expect from doing swings, not to mention a healthy heart with endurance that won't quit!
- Convenience - kettlebells are compact and easily transported. Train with them in your bedroom, in your backyard or take them with you on vacation. No more missed workouts or having to settle for the cheesy "health club" at the hotel. My kettlebells sit beside my television in the living room and it's not uncommon to find me doing swings during commercial breaks, or while soaking in some rays at the beach in Ocean City.
- Enjoyment factor - kettlebell training is fun! The freedom of movement you have, all the different exercises available, the rhythmic flowing nature of the training itself... it's enjoyable! And let's be honest, an exercise that you do not enjoy is an exercise that you will not do for long.
These are just a few advantages of kettlebell training. There are many other physiological, psychological and even social benefits that you'll find when you start training with kettlebells. I recommend that you:
- find a qualified trainer in your area to teach you the basics
- buy a few kettlebells
- get to swinging!
Stick with it and you'll have a lean muscular physique that has all the go as it does for show!