Okay, you maybe heard the term kettlebells bandied about the gym a few times, or perhaps saw or heard an interview where someone very fit blamed it all on kettlebells. So just what are kettlebells, and just how can they help you get in the kind of shape you always wanted?
These things go way back. First reference to them appears in a 1704 Russian dictionary. Known as "girya" in Russian, kettlebells are a cast-iron weight that resembles a cannon ball with an attached handle so it can be swung. Kettlebells were so revered in Tsarist Russia that any strongmen were referred to as ""gireviks". or literally, "a kettlebell man".
Kettlebells are lifted and swung in a variety of exercises designed to deliver an all-round workout like no other single piece of equipment can. You don't need all the home gyms, dumbbells, squat racks, and cardio equipment: kettlebells can give all of this and much more.
Used conspicuously by first the Russian military, and now found in the training regimens of not only serious body builders, martial artists and strongmen worldwide, but Force Recon Marines, the Nuclear Security teams, the FBI HRT team and some units of the Secret Service. These guys can use anything in the world, and they choose this type of strength-building conditioning.
Kettlebell training can be carried out by young and old alike. While there are competitions available, most people do this type of training for the incredible results it brings to them. Legion are the stories of athletes young and old, injured or burnt out on traditional training techniques that found new life and superior conditioning and strength through the use of kettlebell training. Many people train with kettlebells well into their sixties and beyond. In fact, Dr. Krayevskiy, the man who organized kettlebells into a competitive sport, didn't even begin training with them until he was in his forties, and now well over sixty he feels and looks younger than he did when he started! Kettlebells have the power to transform your life!
Kettlebells are also remarkably safe. The incidence of injury with kettlebells is much lower than with other types of exercise and conditioning equipment, probably due to their natural use of your body's movement. The closer we imitate our body's natural movements the less likely we are to subjecting ourselves to injury. The most common types of kettlebell related injuries seem to come from the area of overuse, and over-training, which can happen with any type of equipment or training regimen. Knowing when to quit and listening to your body's signals is key to avoiding hurting yourself.
Kettlebells are also useful as an a weight control tool. Whether your body needs to gain or lose, kettlebell training will deliver results for you. What I mean by this is that if you are overweight and need to lose some body fat, kettlebell training will definitely aid you in that regard. Conversely, if you are in the need to bulk up category, then you may just have hit the mother lode! Kettlebell training will add conspicuous muscle to your frame, sculpting it in a classic fashion. What this means is that kettlebell training tends to create bodies more along the lines of ancient statues, which of course if the way we were naturally made to be our strongest and most fit, with broad shoulders, strongly defined back muscles, wiry arms and rugged forearms, a natural six pack, and fit legs.
One of the most interesting testimonies to the effect that kettlebells have on overall fitness was conformed in tests by the Russian Voropayev in 1983, where he put two control groups through a test that included pull-ups, a standing long jump, a 100m dash and a 1k run. One group trained exclusively for those activities, while the other group trained solely with kettlebells. When tested in the events, the kettlebell group exceeded the other control group in every single test, despite not having trained for them! This and other tests like this one validate kettlebells as a great overall conditioning method, as well as marvelous strengthening tools.
So how do you get started with kettlebell training? There are books and videos available for the beginner and novice to help you get started training with kettlebells. Seeing the exercises performed can be a great aide in making sure you are using your body and the kettlebells themselves the way they should be used.
Kettlebells come in sizes, or "poods" which is an archaic Russian weight measure. Men's kettlebells come in weights of 26, 35, 44, 53, 62, 70, 88 and 106 pounds. Most men can start with a 35 pounder, and anything over 62 pounds is really for the hard core among us. Women's sizes run from 10, 13 18 , and 26 pounds, with most women starting with an 18 pounder.
There are packages available that will get you a selection of kettlebells to start with, as well as books and videos to help you get going. These packages can be a good idea. There are also certified kettlebell instructors all over the country. Find one in your area and get hooked up with not only them, but others who are training with kettlebells as well. This can be a great way to keep up your enthusiasm and learn at the same time! A quick search on the internet should yield someone local to your area.
Kettlebells are hardly new, but like many older things have proven themselves over time. The preponderance of evidence makes it very clear that kettlebell training that while extreme, produces results like no other method. If you're interested in building strength and the type of body we've been talking about here, then you owe it to yourself to look further into kettlebell training. Get some good instruction, a good set of kettlebells, and you'll soon see the type of results we've been touting here in your own training regimen!