Up until today, what I did know about kettlebells would have barely filled this sentence. I have never used them nor have I coached clients on using them. Still, I get asked about them quite a bit so I felt it was time to educate myself. Now I’m sharing that information with you.
When I looked up the “history of kettlebells” on Google a whole bunch of information came up. To my surprise they have been in use for the purpose of exercise for hundreds of years. There is debate as to how long they’ve been around, but we’ll go with the story that starts with how they were used by Russian farmers as a counter weight for measuring grain. Apparently, the bored farmers discovered the kettlebells could be heaved and thrown to demonstrate feats of strength. To think, long before social media the word spread and a sport was born. I had no idea.
It is the Russian doctor, Vladislaw Krayevsky, who is credited with popularizing kettlebell training with the Russian army in the early 19th century. There is other information saying that kettlebells were used in other parts of the world before this time in history. Regardless, I thought they were a somewhat recent fad that the fitness industry created to get us all to spend more money on equipment. I stand corrected.
Today, kettlebells are in many gyms, and many folks have them at home. They are easy to recognize. They look like a flat-bottomed ball with a handle attached to the top. Some are now coated in plastic (look for the pretty colours) and some are strictly metal. They are available in all kind of sizes.
The kettlebell workout is different than a regular dumbbell workout in that there is swinging motion of the kettlebell. That swinging motion is combined with explosive movements of other parts of the body depending on the specific exercise. Of course, there are huge benefits to this type of workout. It builds strength, stamina and stability. The other side of the coin is the controversy around the risk of injury that comes when attempting these movements before the body is ready.
The swinging of a weighted object requires the strength to be able to safely stop the movement of that object. This is where problems can arise. My recommendation with any form of exercise is to start slowly to determine limitations. Improving fitness is about pushing those limits in a controlled manner. In the fitness industry that is known as Progressive Overload.
If trying out a kettlebell workout is on your wish list be sure to start with a weight that is way too light for you. Work on the movements. Get those down, and then slowly increase the weight. Always, always, always focus on having good form. That is the best place to start to avoid injury.
There you have it. Now we both know a bunch more about kettlebells.
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