Why Kettlebell Workouts?cmhehre
Wondering what the benefits kettlebell workouts have over traditional free-weight workouts?
Andrea Du Cane, Master RKC, Director of Certifications, Dragon Door Publications and owner of Kettlebell Fitness, shares her insight on kettlebell workouts.
What do you like about kettlebell workouts?
Kettlebell workouts are functional and full-body, making them a very efficient tool for all your workout goals. You can spend as little as 10-15 minutes and get a full-body workout. The variety of sizes allows all populations to use them safely and effectively. And because they are relatively small, they don’t take up much space so you can use them in your home or office. All you need is a couple of different sizes, and you have the equivalent of a fully outfitted gym.
How do kettlebells improve strength? Are they better than conventional free weights?
Kettlebells have the same function as dumbbells, but better. You can use them for swings, presses, squats, deadlifts, bent presses, windmills, kettlebell carries, single-leg deadlifts, rows etc. A unique benefit over conventional weights is the design. The handle and “off-set” load makes the stabilizers work much harder since the load is not over the bone structure. This improves mobility as well as strength of the shoulder complex. And holding heavy double kettlebells in the rack position, activates the core and requires the body to work harder during front squats.
How do kettlebells improve endurance and how is it a cardio workout?
Because of the unique design kettlebells can be used for cardio conditioning as well as strength exercises. Kettlebells are unique because of the handle. The handle allows the kettlebell to be swung back between the legs and up again – for reps or time. The cardio demand on the body is remarkable because it’s your bodyweight PLUS the load of the kettlebell AND gravity on each rep. This is an advantage over running or cycling where you are only moving your body. It is truly the most effective HIIT type of endurance training.
Swinging or snatching for time with minimal rest creates a kind of muscular and cardio endurance hard to achieve with other exercises. Another unique advantage of kettlebells over other types of strength and conditioning training is the posterior chain loading during all the ballistic exercises (swing, clean and snatch). This ability to get the kettlebell back behind the hips optimizes glute, hip and lower body explosive power development. This is unique to the kettlebell and makes it a must for all types of athletes.
What are the benefits to grip strength?
Because of the handle, kettlebell training lends itself to farmer carries and bottom’s-up kettlebell holds and presses. Grip strength is not only necessary in active daily living, but weak grip strength has been shown to have a correlation for early death. And a weak grip is also known to be associated with shoulder problems.
Do kettlebells help with balance?
Kettlebell exercises are intrinsically functional because of the “off-set” load to the handle. Many kettlebell exercises require the need for extra stability and balance. The placement of the handle and the relation of the kettlebell to the body demands more core and balance of the body.
What advice would you have for people who’ve never tried kettlebells?
I recommend finding an HKC/RKC certified trainer or HardstyleFit trained instructor to establish good movement and an understanding of the principles of kettlebell training. Because of the unusual demand on the body, proper technique is very important to prevent injury and produce maximal results. Once you have the basics down you will be able to use them on your own. With the many different fitness apps available, you will be able to get the most effective workouts with one simple tool.