In my 4 year training hiatus away from traditional gyms, I have learned a lot about strength and conditioning.
I’ve learned that fancy equipment is NOT a necessity, and that a small investment in large ROI (return on investment) tools like the kettlebell are well worth the money spent.
I was introduced to kettlebells through the internet. Honestly, the first time that I ever witnessed a person swinging a kettlebell was on YouTube while in Detroit, MI. I have to admit that I was stubborn in my training philosophy then, so I hated them.
“Another exercise fad! That’s insane and dangerous!”
I believe that to be my initial reaction that after watching the video clip.
Kettlebells weren’t a thought in my mind until a year after watching that clip. What a mistake.
Perform Better and Gray Cook…
While attending a Perform Better conference in Chicago, I decided to listen in on Gray Cook’s seminar as he raved about the kettlebell’s versatility when it came to rehab, strength and power development. Gray isn’t known for being a fat loss guru, but he made a point to touch on the effectiveness of kettlebell training for burning fat.
One point that Gray made was an experience that he had working with the Indianapolis Colts, having 260-320lb NFL athletes try and walk 50 yards with a 53lb (24kg) kettlebell held in full extension over their head.
Not one guy could do it.
Pound for pound, we are talking about some of the strongest athletes in the world. Many of these guys can probably press 100+ pounds vertically, yet not one could overhead carry load half of that (53lb) for 50 yards?!?!
No shoulder stability. Many of these guys were ticking time bombs for injury. Very interesting.
After Gray’s seminar, I ventured over to the product display table where they had a 20kg kettlebell out for trainers to play around with. As soon as I picked it up, I felt like I hadn’t trained in years. The feel of it was so unique.
One short, awkward, off-balance kettlebell workout later that night in the hotel room and I knew that there was something incredibly valuable about the kettlebell. The rest is history.
Here are some reasons to love KB’s…
The weight of a kettlebell is off-center that of the handle, unlike a dumbbell where the weight is evenly distributed on either side of your hand grip. First impressions after picking up the 20kg bell at the convention told me that I needed to give it a shot. I purchased a 20kg kettlebell and my introduction to alternative training methods began.
Most of the kettlebells that I recommend purchasing as made of a cast iron mold. Lifeline and Dragon Door are the two major players, with companies like Perform Better and Art of Strength having a market presence also.
You are going to find two different styles of kettlebell on the market today.
1) The first is the competition kettlebell and looks like this:
2) The second (and more common) kettlebell that you will often see is what is known as the “hardstyle” kettlebell. This kettlebell design was used by the Russian’s to condition their military for years. Pavel Psatsouline pioneered the kettlebell craze in the Western world in the early 2000’s, and his methods have since grown like wild-fire in popularity.
Here is what the “hardstyle” kettlebell looks like:
The flow of kettelbell training is what makes it so addicting. Virtually every movement in a kettlebell workout is completed in standing position, so transitioning from a 2-handed swing to a 1-handed swing to a 1-arm clean into a vertical press… is actually quite simple. It’s all about grace and flow while maintaining enough muscular tension to move the bell through space.
Ground based training with constant transitions from movement to movement is total body in nature, and extremely fatiguing. The indirect core training that occurs as a result of a vertically standing posture is one of the many perks of ground based training. Muscles are called upon to contribute as they would in a real world situation.
This is functional training. No gimmicks, just amazing real world carryover from the workout to life.
Kettlebell training is a skill and an art. Creating tension where it is needed yet remaining relaxed is something the is so non-traditional compared to traditional strength training methods. Sure, you can perform the grunt lifts, but the balance of “relaxed-tension” is something to be marveled at with a kettlebell workout. Martial artists have known the value of relaxed-tension for hundreds of years.
Relaxed-tension demonstrated in the Bottom’s Up Turkish Get Up
Basic movements, huge training effect…
Simplicity will trump everything with kettlebell training. A steady diet of kettlebell swings, cleans, snatches, vertical presses, bent rows, reverse lunges, turkish get ups and carrying variations will keep you progressing for months both aesthetically and athletically.
Forget about fancy moves from the get go. Train the foundational movement patterns listed above and you’ll develop strength while consistently decreasing your waist circumference.
A lot of people struggle with sticking to a training regimen because they get paralysis by analysis. Men’s Health and their trivial information sends people in 10 different directions, which often times causes the tiring spinning effect in a training
Stick to the basics.
Stay tuned as I load this blog up with more videos and demonstrations.
Time to move more and sit less people.
Here is a two movement basic kettlebell workout that I still use to this day…