Kettlebells aren’t just a fitness fad

kettlebell crouch position

You can do your kettlebell routine anywhere

Kettlebells became very popular about three or four years ago. It seemed you could buy them anywhere, even at Canadian Tire or the Superstore. I started training with them then, and now they’re one of the most essential and fun parts of my strength-training program.

When you see them it’s obvious where their name comes from. They are available in a huge range of sizes. They can be used as a weight training alternative to dumbbells. Like dumbbells, they are small and portable, so they’re great to have at home so you can always do a quick workout. They’re also easy to pop in the car if you’re going away for a vacation and want to take your favourite workout with you. (If you’re flying, and using 20kg kettlebells, you might want to reconsider.)

But why are kettlebells better than dumbbells? What are some of the advantages of training with them?

1. Their handles make kettlebells easy to swing, and easy to pass from one hand to the other. You can do a greater variety of exercises with kettlebells than with dumbbells.

2. The handles are perfect for the most basic and essential kettlebell exercises: the double-arm swing and the single-arm swing. These exercises are fantastic for strengthening and toning your butt, hamstrings, quads and lower back.

kettlebells at Birkenhead
The double-arm swing

3. Kettlebells increase your core strength. Many of the exercises require you to stabilize your body using many core muscles as you swing a kettlebell around your body or pass it between your legs from one hand to the other.

kettlebell exercises at Birkenhead
Targeting bicep, shoulder and core (to stabilize)

4. You can even get a cardio workout with kettlebells! The smooth swinging movements of the exercises allow you to be in constant motion. If you want to do a cardio workout for three minutes, ten minutes or longer, just choose a kettlebell weight that you can handle for that length of time.

I usually incorporate three or four sets of my favourite kettlebell exercises into my weight training sessions at the gym. However, there are enough different exercises that you could do a full workout using kettlebells alone.

Starting to work out with kettlebells

There are thousands of kettlebell videos available online. Click here to see a short video demonstrating ten of the best exercises.

Always keep these points in mind:

  • Don’t use kettlebells that are too heavy. Your movements should always be smooth and controlled.
  • You will likely use at kettlebells of at least two or three different weights, depending on the exercise. When you’re learning a new exercise, start with a weight that feels easy.
  • Correct form is critical; you don’t want to injure your lower back. Watch videos and other athletes; work with a trainer, and ask trainers and other athletes to give you feedback about your form. You will soon get into the “swing” of things. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

* Update!

For an enthusiastic endorsement of kettlebell training, please read long-time runner and fitness instructor Caroline Crabtree’s comment below!

About nancytinarirunswrites

I used to be known as a competitive runner, but now I have a new life as a professional writer and editor. I'm even more obsessive about reading, writing, and editing than I was about running. Running has had a huge influence on my life, though, and runner's high does fuel creativity. Maybe that's why this blog evolved into being 95% about running, but through blogging I'm also learning about writing and online communication. I'm fascinated by how the Internet has changed work, learning, and relationships. I love to connect in new and random ways!
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1 Response to Kettlebells aren’t just a fitness fad

  1. Caroline Crabtree says:

    Nancy, Kettlebells are my favorite workout other than running and spinning! I started teaching kettlebell classes twice a week three years ago and I’m still teaching! I spend the summers up at our family cottage with my two sons; I found I could keep up my cardio by running and water-running but loss my body strength. Since kettlebells are so portable, I now can do my strength workouts anywhere; facing the lake is my favorite spot! Kettlebells changed my physical shape and I have never been stronger, my running improved immensely! I raced a 10 miler a month and a half ago and ran the fastest time for me as a master runner! Believe it is due to the kettlebells; I love the them and enjoy teaching my classes! I have numerous fitness members, especially women over 40, who have trained with me for over the last 3 years; it is so satisfying to watch them get stronger and stay motivated with their fitness routines.

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