Kettlebells: from Russia with love

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You've seen them on TV and at your gym. And you're likely thinking "another fitness fad" —  but this one piece of exercise equipment has been around for hundreds of years and is still a great fitness tool for anyone looking to add variety to their workout.  Say hello to the kettlebell. Its functionality offers a perfect combination of cardio and strength training.

You may know the kettlebell as that strange squatty-shaped weight that you've been too unsure about to try, but don't be intimidated. Learn more about this fundamental piece of fitness equipment. You'll see it's remarkably easy to use but will quickly earn your respect as your fitness friend.

A bit of kettlebell background

Kettlebell lifting comes from Russian culture, where the original purpose had nothing to do with  strength training. They were used as counterweights for grains and produce for weight measurement. Over time, it became obvious that kettlebell handlers made noticeable gains in strength and body conditioning. By the mid-1900s, the tool became a piece of gym equipment. 

Working the kettlebells

The kettlebell's popularity continues to grow because it's fun to work with and provides a total body workout. When used correctly, the kettlebell stimulates nearly every muscle and provides the two-in-one combination of pure strength and cardio training. Additionally, its shape and functionality create total body movements, unlike standard dumbbells and free weights.  

Kettlebell exercises offer a range of motion that follows the pattern of the pick-up, deadlift, snatch and swing, working your core and legs as well as arms, back and shoulders. This creates a total body movement from the calf muscles through the core and up the back. Such efficiency and flexibility works for both men and women. It can be used to tone and build every muscle.

For beginners, take caution ...

Kettlebells make an intense, total body workout with a lot of force and can be substituted for almost any exercise. It's easy to abuse the kettlebell because it moves smoothly with the body — but it adds instability, so keeping good form is critical to prevent injury.

Kettlebells are great for targeting the muscles along the posterior chain, the muscles in the upper back and down to the hamstrings. When standing with the knees slightly bent in a half-squat, kettlebell exercises create a push in energy through the legs and up through the back producing a total body movement that lifts every muscle away from the ground.

As you tap into the fitness potential kettlebell workouts offer, you won't be intimidated at all and will learn how to successfully use them.

Posted on August 26, 2014 and filed under fitness.