I think it’s safe to say that words like trendy or trendsetter have never and will never be used to describe me. Usually if I’ve started wearing something trendy or using a certain buzz word, chances are it’s on its way out. Kinda like Joey here…
The kettlebells might be my one chance at the title.
When I first found kettlebells…that’s right, kettlebells, not kettleballs, not cowbells, kettlebells…nobody knew what they were. And on the off-chance that they did, they had no idea what one might do with them. Kettlebells have actually been around for a very long time, but as most of you have probably seen they just recently started making their way into the American fitness spotlight. (Now if only spell check would get with the times…you should see all the red squiggly lines!)
8 years ago, I was just getting out of college and really feeling bored with my workout routine. So my boss at the time gave me the number of a guy and suggested I go try out these kettlebell thingys. Long story short, I fell in love and we’ve been going strong (excuse the pun 😉 ) ever since.
Now I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not a big fan of the fitness cultures that surround certain exercise programs or equipment. Ya know, the ones that think they are the best and only way. In fact, I’ll go ahead and tell you right now, you can get strong and have an awesome body without kettlebells! So this is more about why I use and love kettlebells. But just to play fair, I’ll also give you a couple things they are not so good for.
What they are good for…
First let me clarify that I’m going to be referring to the exercises that are kettlebell specific. There are lots of regular exercises that you can do with them as well, but for the purpose of this post I’m talking specifically about kettlebell exercises.
- First and foremost, they’re FUN! (Especially if you find tradition strength training boring.) It’s not often you get to swing heavy things around and look super cool at the same time AND actually have it be really good for your body.
- Powerlifting is awesome for working your entire body and cardiovascular system, however, it is very technical. The kettlebell allows for an easier, more natural feeling, way to learn the powerlifts. Plus if you’re like me and have any issues with your wrists, kb’s are easier on them than the bar.
- The way they are made, with most of the weight in one spot instead of evened out on both sides like a dumbbell, works more stabilization (especially of the shoulders) and balance. Two things most people struggle with.
- They will strengthen your posterior chain. Wha?? The posterior chain is your low back, butt, and hamstrings. Who doesn’t want to strengthen those?! Plus if you have a desk job or just tend to sit a lot, chances are your posterior chain is pretty weak. While it might not feel like it, sitting is really hard on your body. Swings help undo some of that damage caused by too much sitting. This is also why most people say that swings just feel good.
- They provide an awesome low-impact cardiovascular workout. Had to stop running because your knees couldn’t take it anymore? The kettlebell is your answer!!
- So not only will they lift your booty, but working the posterior chain and cardiovascular system will help improve the basic athletic movements like walking, running, and jumping.
- Kettlebells are great for strength training, fat loss, conditioning, and endurance.
For me, they are my favorite way to train because they hit all of my top priorities. I can use them for cardio and/or strength training. They give me an awesome full body workout in a short amount of time. With them, I enjoy my workouts more because to me they are fun and make my body feel really good.
What they aren’t good for….
All that being said, kettlebells are not the best for muscle hypertrophy. They tend to increase strength without size, so if you’re looking to bulk up you’ll probably want to add some more tradition weight lifting to your routine.
While they make learning the power lifts easier, they still come with a bit of a learning curve. In fact, it’s pretty awkward at first. It’s not something you can just watch someone do, then go pick up one and do it yourself (usually). This also means you can’t just go jump into a class on the first day. This is the reason so many people end up hurt.* They take a little more attention to detail and time to learn.
*Trainers are often the worst offenders when it comes to this!! So please make sure your trainer knows what they are doing if they are teaching or correcting you on kettlebell exercises.
One thing you should at least try….
If you were to ask me for my top 3 favorite exercises, the kettlebell swing would definitely be in there. Because of the multiple benefits, I do think everybody should at least learn the swing at some point (especially if you have a job where you have to sit a lot!). Then if you still don’t like it, you don’t have to do it. But from my experience, when you finally get it down and understand where you are and aren’t supposed to feel it, you’ll fall in love too. 😉
*Stay tuned for more on the correct way to do the kettlebell swing!!!
**Interested in kettlebell classes and live in the Colorado Springs area? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*