Certainly, most fitness instructors and personal trainers I have spoken to are in favour of the kettlebell as an effective training tool, but so many gym goers seem unsure of how to use them. A few swing throughs and that is the extent of their usefulness. So how can we get more from our kettlebell workout?
Firstly, for those people who have never seen or heard of a kettlebell, here is a brief introduction.
At its most basic level, a kettlebell is a lump of iron that comes in several sizes. It can come with a plastic coat, but essentially it is like a bowling ball with a thick handle at the top. Like dumbbells, kettlebells come in all different weights, but the difference between kettlebells and weights is the shape. This irregularity means you work harder to hold, control and lift kettlebells than you do regular weights.
I have to confess I have become a convert and as a result I am going to share my enthusiasm for these unwieldy lumps of metal that seem like a throwback to gyms of the 1970s
Using kettlebellsKettle bells can be used for standard weight training exercises – bench presses, curls, rows – much as you would a dumbbell. But one of the exciting things about working out with kettle bells is the range of ballistic movements you can do, which means that you can work your muscles faster and develop fantastic muscular endurance. You will soon feel the benefit from using kettle bells and doing sets of fast reps of snatches, swings, cleans and jerks.
Strengthening the core: the Windmill and Turkish Get UpKettlebells can be used to great effect in core work. The windmill is a move that involves lifting the kettlebell over your head, keeping the lifting arm as straight as possible, then sliding your free hand down towards the floor. This is an off-balance movement that will help develop rock-hard abdominals.
Likewise, the Turkish Get-up is a move that develops balance and core strength. Lie on the floor with the kettle bell held over your head with a straight arm. Keeping the arm straight and over your head, move to a standing position. Don’t rush the move but feel it working your hamstrings, flutes and abdominals.
You can do all of these exercises with dumbbells, but the beauty of the kettlebell is that it’s odd shape means you work harder to keep your balance while performing the repetitions, in particular you will be working those stabiliser muscles which often get neglected when you are doing isolated muscle work. According to research, a 20-minute kettle bell session can burn up to 300 calories and is effective as both an aerobic exercise workout or a strength and conditioning session.