Take a sensible approach to Kettlebells
Kettlebell workouts are an excellent addition to any exercise routine. They offer variety, are challenging, adaptable and offer whole-of-body benefits.
It is important to understand how to use Kettlebells correctly. With a focus on technique and form, you can establish a skill set that you can utilise for the rest of your life.
Whether it is to maintain your posture and keep your back healthy, keep the weight off or boost your athletic performance through the roof, Kettlebells can play an important part in your fitness regime and are adaptable enough to accompany any training methodology.
So let us take you through kettlebells for beginners.
What is a Kettlebell?
‘A Kettlebell is an ancient tool, that is going to transform your everyday flabbiness into graceful strength’Pavel Tsatsouline, 2001
A Kettlebell is basically a cannonball with a handle. Simple but very effective.
Kettlebells: How your body wants to work
Kettlebells have been steadily growing in popularity. From the Tim Ferriss ‘4 Hour Body’ to the Biggest Loser, there has been an explosion of interest in this amazing training method. And why not?
Kettlebell exercises are fun, dynamic and most of all challenging. Whether you want to rehab your back or lose 10 kilos you know that you have to work for it; it will not happen without effort and focus.
The most convincing reason to adopt kettlebell training is efficiency; it is one of the faster way to burn calories, build muscle and address muscular imbalances and weaknesses. If you want to learn how kettlebell training can be used to help fix your body, help you lose weight and boost your athletic performance, keep reading.
If you want to counteract the effects of sitting at a desk 38 hours a week, kettlebells offer serious bang for buck. They combine resistance, core and cardio training in a way that is remarkably efficient.
Functional exercise: strengthening your body according to nature
Kettlebell exercises force you to use your body correctly. Even the shape of the bell helps in this.
Your lifestyle makes you asymmetrical. It makes you stronger on one side, weak on the other, tight here, loose there. Kettlebells don’t let you get away with this.
If your technique is no good, it basically doesn’t work. Try to kettle with slumped shoulders and you’ll realise immediately, you can’t keep your bad posture and kettle at the same time.
In the simplest sense, kettlebell training forces you to address weakness and asymmetries, building you a stronger, injury-proof body.
What makes Kettlebells effective?
What makes a Kettlebell so different to a dumbbell is its shape and handle.
Because the handle sits on top of the weight, the center of gravity of the Kettlebell is always shifting. This seems complicated but it’s actually simple; when you do a dumbbell curl you feel the weight get easier past a certain point. This is because your arm can easily find the dumbbells center of gravity.
This is not the case with a Kettlebell; it’s much harder to find its ‘balance point’. Because the Kettlebell is always ‘off balance’, you have to constantly work hard, engaging important core and stabilizing joint muscles to counter balance the weight.
Kettlebells are one of the most effective rehab tools available for two simple reasons: they are functional and challenging.
And see here if you’d like to know a little about the history of kettlebells.
Functional training with Kettlebells
When you have a problem with your body, you can’t just remove and replace the part that’s broken.
It is regularly spoken that the majority of injuries develop from compensation; you are weak in one area of your body causing you to overload other joints to pick up the slack.
This could be a weak core causing lower back pain, or weak arches causing shin splints – the body is compensating for structural weakness and the force of movement is causing pain.
What many people fail to understand is that injuries are rarely just a case of one bad egg spoiling the bunch. The whole body learns to compensate around weakness and pain. You might strengthen your core, but your tight hip flexors and groin means your lower back pain never goes away.
You can strengthen your rotator cuff, but a weak serratus anterior, tight chest and slumped posture will continue to put strain on your shoulder joint.
If you want to fix your pain you need to address your whole body, not just one area. Kettlebell exercises demand that you engage in whole body, functional movement patterns.
From the ‘swing’, to the ‘turkish get up’ and the ‘windmill’, Kettlebell workouts require that you use every inch of your body correctly.
Importantly when you cannot keep correct form, the asymmetries and inequalities of your body come out. You can no longer cheat by slouching, or leaning to the right to help out your left shoulder.
As you correct your form you correct your body, teaching it to move properly, strengthen weaknesses and develop functional movement patterns that prevent injury and reduce pain.
If your workout is not challenging you, it’s not changing you
You know you’ve worked your body after a Kettlebell session. You feel yourself getting stronger and straighter. You can actually feel your body on the way to making these changes for life.
With rehab exercises some people get frustrated because the benefits seem short-lived. Kettlebell sessions are intense enough to challenge your cardio, strength and balance all at the same time. Consequently, your body learns to work as a whole and the results tend to stick for longer.
Are Kettlebells dangerous?
The short answer: yes. Kettlebells are a heavy piece of metal often swung around the air.
Without education, supervision and common-sense there is a good chance something will go wrong. Like the car you drive around in; with great power comes great responsibility.
Kettlebells are no different: if they are used without patience and respect, injuries will occur.
That’s not to say Kettlebells are difficult to learn and use. They mimic the innate movement patterns of the body. Once you get the hang of them nothing could come more naturally. Just take the time to learn the basics before you can excel.
This is where Kettlebell training can have a bad reputation. Indviduals have been utilising Kettlebells for their excellent athletic, functional and structural benefits, but sometimes have have not paid enough time, respect and attention to form and technique.
Kettlebells (like deadlifts and squats before them) should not be demonised because of injuries caused through ignorance and inexperience. They are an exceptionally beneficial training method when used properly.
Introduce Kettlebells into your training regime, take the time to learn proper form and technique and then reap the benefits. Good luck.