black kettle bell on floor

Kettlebell Training, a Total Body Workout

Kettlebell workouts are designed to engage all the muscles in the body, building strength and endurance. Originating in Russia and known there as the girya, it is gaining popularity all over the world. Workouts are intense but short and can produce dramatic physical results in a short amount of time.

What is a kettlebell?

A kettlebell is a simple piece of exercise equipment consisting of a cast iron ball with a handle attached to the top. They come in ranges of 5 pounds to 105 pounds. The three things to consider when purchasing a kettlebell are; handle, finish and base. The handle should be cast with the bell, not welded. A wide handle will allow for two handed drills and a thicker handle is desired for floor exercises such as pushups. Likewise a wide base is also preferred for floor exercises. The finish should be smooth with no rough edges.

The Difference Between Kettlebell Workouts and Traditional Weight Training

The biggest difference between kettlebells and traditional dumbells is in the design. The weight is not distributed evenly and any kettlebell workout will require your body to compensate by engaging your core muscles for stability, improving balance and posture. The free flowing swinging movements used in these exercises increase range of motion and flexibility. These exercises involve several muscles at once providing a cardiovascular workout that produces a well-balanced body without bulk. In contrast, resistance training with dumbbells will isolate muscle groups to bulk up the body and do not provide the same cardiovascular benefits or core training.

Cardiovascular and Core Training

Cardiovascular exercise raises the heart rate. Since a kettlebell exercise employs nearly all of the muscles in the body, it provides an excellent cardio workout. The basis of a kettlebell exercise is to generate momentum and then redirect or reduce the movement. This works similar and opposing muscle groups together increasing the heart rate and burning calories.

The core muscles include the abdominals, obliques, lower back and glutes. These muscle groups are responsible for maintaining the body’s balance and posture. Having strong core muscles is important as it helps to reduce injury as well as makes everyday tasks easier. Working with the instability of a kettlebell engages and works all of the muscles in the body’s core.

Starting a Kettlebell Exercise Routine

As with any new exercise routine it is advised to start slowly with smaller weights and learn the proper techniques before moving on to heavier kettlebells or doing more advanced exercises. And while kettlebells aren’t inherently dangerous, there is a degree of hazard when swinging a large weight around. It is wise to learn the basics with a personal trainer or someone experienced with kettlebell workouts.