Fitness Articles

The Iron Truth about Kettlebell Training

Find Out If This Fitness Trend Is Right for You

1.7KSHARES
Kettlebells were practically unheard of in North America until recently, but now exercising with a bowling-ball-shaped weight with a handle is the newest fitness trend. Used by fitness enthusiasts, collegiate athletes, and pro sports teams alike, more and more people are becoming curious about kettlebells. Here’s what you need to know.

What are kettlebells?
Kettlebells have been around for ages. Made out of cast iron, they’re cannonball-shaped weights with a single handle on top. Although they look really different from the free weights and machines that occupy most gyms, they are “one of the best and most efficient fitness tools you can use,” according to Henry Marshall, a NSCA-certified personal trainer and IKFF- and AOS-certified kettlebell trainer. Marshall explains that although kettlebells originated in Russia and continue to be popular in Eastern Europe, “American strongmen like Eugene Sandow and the Saxton Brothers trained with them in the early 1900s, too.”

What are the benefits of kettlebells?
The purported benefits of kettlebells appeal to people of all fitness levels, ages and genders. Somewhere along the way, says Marshall, “the fitness industry lost the real definition of ‘fit’ and replaced traditional full-body exercises with isolation exercises. Lately though, this cosmetic type of training is being replaced with movement-based training, which some call functional fitness training.” That’s what kettlebells provide, and individuals who want a more practical and traditional style of training are turning to kettlebells. Proponents of kettlebells, including Marshall, say that the benefits of kettlebell training are many. Kettlebells offer:
  • Full-body conditioning. “The body learns to work as one synergistic unit linked strongly together,” he says.
  • Big results by spending less time in the gym. “Because kettlebell training involves multiple muscle groups and energy systems at once.”
  • Increased resistance to injury
  • The ability to work aerobically and anaerobically simultaneously.
  • Improved mobility and range of motion
  • Increased strength without increase of mass. Kettlebell exercisers are lean and toned, not bulky—a benefit that appeals to women and men alike.
  • Enhanced performance in athletics and everyday functioning
  • Major calorie burning (In a recent study conducted by the highly respected American Council on Exercise, participants burned approximately 20 calories per minute--that's 1,200 calories per hour.)
How do you start using kettlebells?
Most commercial gyms do not have kettlebells, but small boutique gyms and independent trainers offer group classes and individual instruction. The best way start using kettlebells is to find a trainer or instructor with a kettlebell teaching certification. The most common and reputable certifying bodies, which train kettlebell experts around the world, are: Patty Scott, a SparkPeople member (ZORBS13) and Agatsu-certified kettlebell instructor, stresses the importance of getting personal instruction when it comes to using kettlebells. "With the popularity of kettlebells, a lot of people are learning the basics from DVDs and YouTube. I cringe at some of the instruction given on websites, even though the instructions come from extremely well-respected and certified kettlebell trainers," she warns. Scott, who was an experienced fitness professional and trainer long before she tried kettlebells, uses herself as an example. "When I first started using kettlebells, I sustained some nasty bumps and bruises. I cannot imagine what would happen to a person with less experience!"
Continued ›
Page 1 of 3   Next Page ›
1.7KSHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

Connect With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

Follow Coach Nicole Online:
Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram

Member Comments

  • This site is the only place that I've encountered kettlebells. - 8/8/2014 6:50:53 AM
  • I didn't think I'd really be able to do kettlebells, but I had a kind, patient instructor that really worked with me. He didn't make me feel wimpy for starting out with tiny, lightweight kettlebells. Shop for your instructor and don't be afraid to tell them if you need clarification. - 8/7/2014 3:17:42 PM
  • I've been doing kettlebells for a short time now and love it. It is a great workout and can be as challenging as you need. Currently I have two 16 kg, a 24 kg, and a 32 kg. I got into them through a friend who is associated with StrongFirst. www.strongfirst.c
    om I didn't see it listed in the article and thought I'd post it in case anyone is looking for an instructor, they are all over the country. - 7/12/2014 1:59:45 PM
  • I'm not coordinated enough to use a kettleball. I'd probably injure myself. - 6/30/2014 10:25:19 AM
  • I would love to take a class, but I have knee issues and am concerned that I will hurt more than when I do squats. - 6/23/2014 8:44:09 PM
  • For those complaining about cost, try these kettle bells available through Amazon (free shipping for prime members). GoFit Contoured Single Vinyl Coated Kettlebell are easier on the arm and cost less that the recommended sites. The vinyl coating saves your floors. 35 lb bell is around 65 dollars and the 25 lb bell is around 56 dollars. Works like a regular kettle bell, but the concave surface rests better against the foreare. - 6/19/2014 4:16:15 PM
  • I had a personal trainer who loved them, but I kept getting nasty bruises from where they hit my arms. After reading this, maybe he wasn't a good trainer for kettleballs. - 6/3/2014 3:30:56 PM
  • I started using one a couple years ago. I bought it at wal mart, It came with a dvd. it was around 12-20. so it does not have to be expensive. I totally love it. I feel like I am getting a good quick workout. - 5/28/2014 3:48:59 AM
  • JSWAMBACH
    I love Kettle Bell training, I train at MMAXOUT Fitness and its an amazing workout. Try to find a place that teaching the Russian Style of Kettlebell. Im in the best shape of my life. Great Article

    Jen - 10/23/2013 5:32:34 AM
  • PEACENCARROTS
    I tried a kettlebell workout once and it wasn't my favorite. Maybe I will try it again. - 9/19/2013 11:00:02 AM
  • HOLY CRAP - the brands of "recommended kettlebells" are frickin' EXPENSIVE! I would love recommendations on some for a REALISTIC budget! - 6/11/2013 8:39:54 PM
  • I just got into this workout! I have been wanting to buy for some time now,I just got a 3 piece set at Aldi!!! for only $12!! I started that day, it is a super workout. I was sore at first, now I wake up at 5am and do a 1/2 hour. The set I am doing has a 5, 10 and 15lb. And watching tons of videos that are really easy and helpful. Good Luck all, this is a strength workout you can't pass up:] - 5/28/2013 10:44:24 AM
  • I started using kettlebells two or three years ago and I love the workout, but it is definitely for intermediate to advanced fitness levels...I haven't done it in a while because I am out of shape but I really enjoy it and hope to be able start up again soon. The DVD that I have is called "The Kettlebell Way." - 4/2/2013 8:51:41 PM
  • I just purchased the Skogg system DVD from Amazon. I did the introductory lesson on Monday. The instructor seems to be very thorough about showing you the proper technique and the 5 DVD set takes you from beginner workouts to advanced/Warrior level workouts. - 4/2/2013 6:08:45 PM
  • My husband bought me a 10 lb. kettle ball and I need a beginning video for it. Any suggestions? - 4/2/2013 2:51:07 PM
Popular Calories Burned Searches: Running or jogging: 7.5 mph (8 minutes per mile)  |  Running or jogging: 8.6 mph (7 minutes per mile)  |  Skateboarding

x Lose 10 Pounds by October 28! Get a FREE Personalized Plan