Kettlebell training is accessible and practical for all. From the elite athlete looking for an edge, to the sedentary person looking to discover fitness for the first time. All can benefit. Read on for the top 10 benefits of Kettlebell training.
The reason for the surge in kettlebell training is that it gets back to basic training that requires functional, whole body fitness… a great way to get a whole body workout in a relatively short period of time.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE)
1. Serious cardio without the boredom of the hamster wheel (treadmill)
2. Functional strength without the monotony of isolated reps
3. Flexibility without long poses
4. Fun and varied, never boring
5. One compact, portable device
6. It’s safe — for any age, shape or size
7. Combines “cardio” and “strength” training
As one of the best kettlebell coaches once said, “life doesn’t respect the difference.” Try sprinting to catch a train while carrying a heavy package or pushing a stroller, did all that “cardio” training you did in “step class” or on the recumbent bike really help that much?
8. The solution for busy people
Busy people want the biggest bang for the buck. Kettlebells can be the solution to trying to squeeze cardio, strength AND flexibility training in an already overbooked schedule. Because of the intensive nature, the workout duration must be kept short. Best of all, they are so small and portable, training can take place in your bedroom.
9. Greater fat loss
Fat gets the ol’ one-two-three punch. First, there is the extremely high metabolic cost of throwing the weight around. Second, it’s a strength training workout creating dense muscle mass, which burns calories from fat stores all day long while increasing your resting metabolism. Finally, combine that with the fat burning effects of human growth hormone that is stimulated by these kinds of whole-body, complex movements. There is no better way to burn fat. This is why sprinters have ripped muscles and marathon runners have a skinny look.
10. Very different from dumbbells and barbells
Anyone who has picked up a kettlebell has felt the difference. The off centered weight of a KB recruits more stabilizer muscles and works the targeted muscles through a wider range of motion. It’s because of the off-center design of the KB. Isolation exercises such as those done with dumbbells and barbells do not hit those stabilizing muscles to the same degree.
It’s challenging,” said Pavel Tsatsouline, a kettlebell trainer and former instructor for the Russian special forces who helped introduce kettlebells to the United States. “It challenges the heart, the muscles, everything. You get a workout quickly. But you have to work. You can’t sit and watch CNN and do kettlebells. It feels very liberating. I think people are tired of sitting around like gerbils on machines.
11. Strengthens every muscle from head-to-toe
Kettlebell training consists of whole-body movement exercises. It’s well-known that compound, whole body movements typical of kettlebell exercises are superior to machines that isolate muscles for improving muscle tone, body composition, and strength. Further, kettlebells strengthen the tendons and ligaments, making the joints tougher and less-susceptible to injury.
12. It’s not bodybuilding
Don’t confuse kettlebells with conventional weight training or bodybuilding. Kettlebell training focuses on (a) movements, not muscles, (b) whole-body, functional training, (c) strength as a function of mobility, and (d) cardio and strength combined.
13. It’s enjoyable
Let’s face it, most exercise is boring. Kettlebell training is quick and enjoyable, which is one of the reasons you’ll stick with it. And, you’re only doing it twice a week—so you don’t have a chance to get bored.
14. Saves money
Gym memberships and personal trainers or quality in-home equipment are usually very expensive. But with a single kettlebell, you can have everything you need to create a healthy, fit and toned body for the rest of your life. They are nearly indestructible and relatively inexpensive.
15. It’s fun!
KB exercises and movements are simple, fun, unique and you can combine it with other exercise modalities. You can make it as fun as you want it to be. No more reason to be in a sweaty gym. Bring your kettlebell to a park and have the workout of your life. Save on gym membership fees and do your training where you love it the most.
16. Build a lean, muscular physique
Men see that coveted wedge shape emerge as the training creates broad shoulders, defines abdominals, builds up their arms and pares down their waists. It’s a lean look, more like Bruce Lee than Arnold.
17. Women won’t bulk up!
Women get the svelte, lean, firm shape that enhances the best of the female body. Think Sarah Connor in The Terminator, or Madonna — but in a fraction of the time those women spent chiseling out their bodies!
18. Easy to learn
Movements are simple and you can start using them right away. No matter how old or out-of-shape you are, everyone can do it and should be doing it.
19. Extremely versatile
KB’s can help you lose weight, build muscle, enhance sport performance or maintain fitness level, as well as improve quality of life as you age. All with one simple tool.
20. Serious cardio
KB training will make you re-think what your max heart rate is! KBl training is perfect for the advantages popular with HIIT (high intensity interval training) as opposed to long-slow cardio. It is the most effective overall fitness regimen available.
There’s a competitive reason behind the appearance of kettlebells at the back doors and tent flaps of military personnel. When Russian and US special Forces started competing against each other after the Soviet Union broke up, the Americans made a disturbing discovery.
Today, half the Secret Service is snatching kettelbells and a set sometimes travels with the president’s detail on Air Force One.
21. Greater cardio benefits
Repetitive KB ballistic drills challenge more muscles — practically the entire body — for a total-body cardiovascular adaptation.
22. Cardio without killing your joints
The ballistic, but non impact nature of KB work is the key. Instead, KB exercises actually strengthen your joints.
23. Simplify your life
You don’t have to think about which exercise requires what size weight. You don’t have to figure out which days you do cardio and which days you do strength training because KBs combine cardio and strength training. You don’t need to worry about upper body and then lower body exercises. It’s all in one. What could be easier? One kettlebell, two times a week, several drills. You have enough to think about with work, children and running a household; let your workout be uncomplicated.
24. In the privacy of your home
You exercise when you want, when you have time. You workout, shower and change in the privacy of your own home. Plus, your entire home gym can be put away in a closet
25. Develop functional strength
Even if you are not an athlete, KB training uses fundamental movement patterns making everyday activities easier and injury less likely. You will stand taller, carry packages easier, climb stairs with less effort and have more energy. Kettlebell training offers the most functional training possible, because the parts of the body must work as a unit.
26. Builds mobility
Stretching practitioners often develop high levels of muscular flexibility, but without developing joint stability or muscular strength. That is a prescription for injury! KB training provides all three: mobility, stability, and strength. A big part of this is the design of a KB with it’s off-centered weight.
27. Never boring
They say if you get bored with KBs, you have no imagination. You can endlessly combine the basic drills to have a different workout each time. It’s amazing how many exercises you can come up with from a simple piece of iron just by changing your grip.
28. Develop core strength
Kettlebells require you to engage the core in almost every lift. KB’s have a reputation for strengthening backs and abs like nothing else before.
29. More cost effective than machines
Don’t worry, guys. You wont’ outgrow them. All you need is one kettlebell. As the weight gets too light you could get a heavier bell, but even better, you can change the way you work with the one you have. Just holding the KB differently makes it harder! You’ll learn to continually increase the challenge to your muscles by manipulating the leverage, weight distribution, timing, etc.
30. Unify your body
The solution to thinking of your body as a collection of “muscle groups” to be “isolated”. Every lift with the kettlebell engages the entire body. The kettlebell movement is never a single joint movement. Every swing, lift, or press engages many joints and muscle groups forcing the body to always work as a unified whole.
31. More coordination
Since the brain knows movements and not “muscles” you become more coordinated with KB use. KB exercises train your body to work as a unit. This is also why athletes look different than bodybuilders.
32. Increase mental focus
You can’t just pick it up and mindlessly muscle it up and throw it around. It’s the thinking persons workout. At each moment the lifter must be focused on the movement. The result is improved coordination and mental focus.
33. Train anywhere
You can train in your bedroom. Or take it to the park. In your backyard or while traveling. You don’t need a lot of space. When you are done stick the kettlebell under your bed or in your closet.
34. It really works!
Everyone from top athletes to soccer moms is joining the kettlebell revolution for one reason: KB training works. If you’re like many others, you have a basement full of machines, equipment and DVDs collecting dust. All things you tried and that didn’t get results, either because they didn’t work or because they didn’t work fast enough to keep you interested. KBs are different. The results keep you going.
35. Simplify your exercise
Just four basic exercises (the swing, clean, press and snatch and their variations in endless combinations) can be used two or three times per week to keep you lean, strong and functional for the rest of your life.
36. Gentle rehabilitation
Those who are older and wiser benefit by healing their pain, gaining strength and energy and functionality of their body that they once lost. Exceptional core strengthening effects and easily modified drills tone and strengthen as mobility is restored. KB training is so simple and flexible that it merges well with physical therapy routines.
37. Cures low back pain
I cured my low back pain with KB’s. Many others have too. The glutes and all the hip muscles are strongly emphasized my KB training. Not only do they get much stronger, they wake up and start participating in your movement. Mechanically, if you’re not firing your glutes when you lift or extend your hip, you are compensating by overusing your lower back muscles. The low back muscles were NOT intended to do the job of your glutes, one of the largest muscles in your body. In other words, your body learns a more correct, much more powerful movement pattern that helps everything you do — and your low back stops complaining (pain).
38. Fix up ‘trashed’ shoulders
Kettlebells are famous for curing bad shoulders, rehabilitating the three things a shoulder needs: mobility, stability, and strength. Just like they cured my bad back, athletes and martial artists with years of punishment to their shoulders are finding a renewed life with KB training. Their shoulders come back better than new.
39. Better posture— the real thing
KB’s strengthen the entire posterior chain that is key not only to athletic performance, but for simply standing up straight and effortlessly.
40. Heal aches and pains
Talk to kettlebellers and you’ll hear stories of shoulder and knee joints getting better, chronic lower back pain disappearing, stiffness relieved, and mobility increased. KB exercises reveal misalignments, compensations and weaknesses in the body and proceed to fix them. As the body returns to the aligned state, musculoskeletal pain is relieved.
41. Strengthens joints
Repetitive ballistic loading of the KB swing and other quick lifts appears to be highly beneficial to your joints. In Supertraining, Dr. Mel Siff states, “Joints subjected to heavy impact are relatively free of osteoarthritis in old age and those subjected to much lower loading experience a greater incidence of osteoarthritis . . .” Strong muscles with weak joints is like having a Ferrari engine in a Volkswagen – it’s just no good!
Stuck in a rut?
“Bust out of it in a big way with a kettlebell workout. This old-school piece of equipment is a throwback to the dawn of strength training; many of you may not be familiar with it. After a brief introduction to its physique -building values, we feel confident you’ll soon give kettlebell-style training a try.”
- Joe Weider, Editor of Muscle & Fitness Magazine
42. Develop dynamic resilience
The acceleration/deceleration of moving the KB strengthens the connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, cartilage) and increases mobility, strength and flexibility reducing the possibility of injury. You want tendon and ligament strength along with your muscular strength. The dynamic movements of KB training build more resiliency with less impact than even less dynamic activities like jogging.
43. Better bracing for spinal stability
The RKC system teaches proper bracing of the abdominal cavity. Instead of sucking in your stomach, like some tell you to do to protect your back, you will learn to ‘brace’ your mid-section as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach. This internal pressure created by your breath and abdominal wall supports your back, makes you stronger. Again, your body learns a better movement pattern. In other words, you will naturally move and do things around the house in a way that protects your back and mid-section. This bracing is also why the KB swing is also a good ab or ‘core’ workout.
44. Low tech, back-to-basics
When we went into space, the astronauts realized that they couldn’t write with a pen in no-gravity outer space. NASA spent a million dollars to develop a pen that would write upside down, without gravity. What did the Russians do? They used a pencil.
Likewise, the Russians noticed that those farmers who frequently handled those old agriculture weights were tough as nails. Those kettlebells sure weren’t fancy or high-tech — they just worked. That’s why the old Soviet military and athletics emphasized kettlebells. Scientists didn’t develop them, rather, they are still trying to figure out WHY they work so well.
45. Learn to absorb force more efficiently
For combat athletes and anyone else that likes it tough, the ballistic shock of KBs teaches you how to absorb shock efficiently which is critical for sports such as: wrestling, MMA, football, and Hockey. It is equally important for all of us. Impact happens when we least expect it. Be prepared for life’s little surprises.
46. Develop incredible power
Perform the Olympic explosive lifts like the clean, jerk or snatch if you know how. But you can get almost the same benefits using KBs — with greater safety and simplicity.
47. Builds strength/endurance
Often times it is not how strong you are when you are fresh but how strong you remain once you become winded and have expended a lot of energy that determines the outcome. In a martial arts or fighting context, “enduring strength” is a very important skill. Maximal strength is very important as well, but the well rounded fighter must be prepared to deliver multiple strikes in combinations. This requires tremendous strength/endurance. Kettlebell high repetition snatches, for example, develops a strong work capacity and anaerobic threshold.
48. Develops strength at the extremes of your range of motion
Exercising this way creates the ability to better stabilize your joints, improves flexibility and enhances mobility. Because KB lifts require full-body integration, it is a much better tool for the martial artist than doing high repetition isolation movements with a barbell or dumbbell.
49. Correct imbalances
Kettlebell training will quickly reveal the weaknesses and weak spots of your body. There is no escape! Since most kettlebell exercises are performed with a single limb, you cannot help but get both sides of your body equally functional. This is especially true because of the structure of the kettlebell, an off-center weight.
50. Improve your recovery
Recovery is a critical facet of athletic training, but training to failure once a week is inefficient and results in debilitating soreness. KB drills facilitate active recovery and provide exceptional conditioning.
51. No more cardio
Remember, you will NEVER have to do another day of CARDIO in your life!
Training with dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls (and anything else you can come up with) offer great benefits as well. However, kettlebells are different. They look different. They feel different. The benefits of kettlebell training are a bit different as well.
The many benefits of kettlebell training waiting for anyone ready to use them. For anyone willing to try something different (not new, just different) the implications for developing phenomenal fitness are undeniable. The old-time strongmen knew this. The Soviets swore by them. Their benefits have been proven in research and experience of elite athletes.
Just get started. Results will soon follow and then there will be no turning back. You will be hooked.