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Kettlebells Provide a Great Weight Lifting Workout

Kettlebell workouts are a great way to build strength


Updated June 10, 2014

Kettlebell Workouts Build Strength

Kettlebell Workouts Build Strength

Photo: FPG / Getty Images

What are Kettlebells?

If you've never heard of kettlebells, you aren't alone. Although this piece of strength training equipment has been around for decades, only recently has it caught the attention of mainstream athletes.

Kettlebells are bowling ball-sized cast iron weights with a single looped handle on top. Kettlebells range in weight from two pounds to over 100 pounds. Common strength training aids in Eastern Europe, kettlebells are taking off in the West thanks to fitness programs like CrossFit. Kettlebells are a favorite item in most CrossFit gyms, along with some other basic training items like weighted medicine balls, pull up bars, jump ropes and lots of free weights.

What's So Great About Kettlebells?

The reason for the boost in kettlebell training it that it gets back to basic training that requires functional, whole body fitness. Kettlebells require an athlete to focus on whole-body conditioning because lifting and controlling a kettlebell forces the entire body, and specifically the core, to contract as a group, building both strength and stability at the same time. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups at once. In this way, they are a great option for getting a whole body workout in a short time.

Kettlebell Training Tips

If you want to maximize a kettlebell workout, get personal instruction for a personal trainer or coach who has experience teaching kettlebell exercises. To find a certified kettlebell trainer near you, check out these websites:

Kettlebell Safety

It's important to start slow and get some training when using kettlebells. When used incorrectly, kettlebells can cause some nasty injuries. Proper use of this cast iron weight requires strength, coordination and lots of practice with a light weight before increasing weight. Each kettlebell exercise involves multiple joints and many muscle groups working together. It takes most athletes time to adjust to these new movement patterns that are often different than traditional weight-lifting moves. To master these movement patterns requires guidance, instruction and patience. After the basics are mastered, increasing the weight provides a strength workout unmatched by machines or even dumbbells.

The biggest mistake beginners make is lifting too heavy a kettlebell before they can control it. This can result in serious injuries to the joints, and especially the neck, back and spine.

Kettlebells Exercises

The first kettlebell exercise most athletes learn is the kettlebell basic swing (pdf). To do this, women will need a kettlebell that weighs around 12 to 25 pounds and men will need a 25- to 35-pound kettlebell. For this exercise, the weight needs to be heavy enough to fully engage the hamstrings (back of the thigh) and gluteus muscles.

Buying a Kettlebell

Look for a kettlebell with a smooth, comfortable handle made of cast iron.

Compare Prices of Cast Iron Kettlebells


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