A Kettlebell is weight training equipment that was invented in Russia a few centuries ago. Initially it was used as an object for weighing things. Over a period of time, the Russians found that using it as a training tool had many health benefits to offer too. Thus it went from being a weighing scale of sorts to becoming a very popular training tool, first in Russia, and now all over the world. Unlike regular barbells and dumbbells, Kettlebells look like a canon ball with a handle. It generally starts from 4 kgs and goes up in increments of 4 kgs.
The popularity of Kettlebell training: It offers fast and measurable results while requiring much lesser time when compared to many other methods of training. It has proven its effectiveness in helping many world class athletes, housewives, businessmen, etc who want the best results in little time. Of course training with kettlebells does not mean that one can ignore their diet or recovery, you still need to be disciplined in that respect.
What does a typical Kettlebell training class look like? Kettlebell classes are very popular in the west, and often these classes are so packed that they have a big waiting lists too. In India kettlebell classes are still not conducted in most places. You will find kettlebells in a few gyms across the country as of now, but those who try them, often tend to love them. A typical kettlebell class would involve a group of participants, each having a kettlebell to themselves, training with it under a qualified instructor. Most of these classes are aimed at fat loss and conditioning training. Thus the workouts are fast paced, intense, and most importantly effective.
Most of these classes focus on the basic moves of kettlebell training, which happen to be swings, clean and press/jerk, snatch, squats, Turkish get ups, windmill, rows, etc. Often these classes will also include some bodyweight training too, to make it more effective. The average class will begin with a 10-15 minute whole body warm up, and then move onto the main workout which would be anywhere between 30-60 minutes, followed by a cooldown.
What is the ideal weight of Kettlebell to begin with? For men, a 16 kg (35lbs) kettlebell would be good to start with, and for a woman 8 kgs (17lbs) would be good to begin with. Of course if they are strong, then they could begin heavier, but generally it is better to be a bit conservative when beginning rather than be too adventurous.
Advantages of Kettlebell training: The basic exercises that are done with a Kettlebell are whole body exercises. This means that they make your body work hard and burn a lot more calories than what the basic isolation exercises like crunches, curls, etc do. Also because these basic exercises burn a lot more calories with each rep, the workouts are rarely very long. For most a basic 30-45 minute workout will be enough to get the job done. And due to the off centre weight of the Kettlebell, the bell tends to float in the air, which means that your core and grip will have to work harder. And of course they can be easily stored in your home as they do not require a lot space like a large treadmill does. This means that you can use it in your own home even when there isn’t a lot of space.
Disadvantages of kettlebell training: Since kettlebells are still relatively new in the Indian fitness scene, it can be hard to find a good, qualified instructor. In this case an interested trainee may have to spend some money to buy a good quality instructional DVD. Having said that, last year the first IKFF workshop was held in India and in the future with more such courses being held, we should soon have a lot more qualified instructors around.
Considerations when performing Kettlebell training: Just like any other system of training, being careful when beginning is a must. A lot of the movements and the bell itself will feel a little different when one begins. It is important to be patient at this stage and take the time to learn the movements well before one tries to excel in them. Another common thing that beginners will notice is that when they begin doing cleans and snatches with a ketttlebell, they will tend to bang up their forearms a bit. If that be the case then there is nothing major to worry about. It is natural in the beginning, and thus it is essential not to rush too much initially. Take your time and avoid doing too many reps at first, and with time as your form improves, you will be able to do a lot more and will not hurt your forearms any longer.
Sample Kettlebell training routine: A sample fat loss Kettlebell circuit workout:
- 1 hand swing
- 1 hand cleans
- 1 hand jerks
- Hand to hand swings
- Front squats
Do each exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 1-2 minutes after completing one circuit round and repeat the whole circuit another 2-4 times. You could also use it as a replacement to your post weight training workout cardio. In that case do 10 minutes of 1 hand swings at the end of your workout, and change hands every 30-60 seconds.
Would you like to read more about Kettlebell training exercises? Click here.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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