A cannon ball with a handle. That’s essentially what it is. Yet this simple description does not do this amazing piece of equipment justice. The kettlebell dates back to the nineteenth century. Not till recently has it made it’s way to the main stream of fitness.
My kettlebell experience started while listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast. I continued to hear Joe mention over and over his love for the kettlebell. Intrigued and bored with my own lifting program, I decided to do some research. After suffering several over-use injuries from traditional western weight lifting equipment, I decided to buy two kettlebells and change up my routine.
Clearly, this was different than anything I had encountered in the gym before. I started with movements like swings, Turkish get ups, presses, and goblet squats. After my first workout, I immediately noticed how I achieved total body exhaustion without the wear and tear. It must be the equivalent to running on a zero gravity treadmill- all the miles and work without much of the soreness, I thought.
Because the kettlebell is so simple in it’s nature, it forces you to keep your routine simple- in a good way. Rather than focusing on weight and reps, you simply focus on the movement pattern with the bell. In a goblet squat you are holding the bell in front of you. As you lower into your squat, with keeping good posture in mind, your elbows slip between your legs and your chest stands tall- typically achieving a new found range of motion in the squat. The goblet squat reduces the stress placed on the spine compared to when it is loaded in a barbell front squat- all the gain without the pain.
In addition, a move like the Turkish Get-Up can be extremely engaging yet humbling. Required for a smooth get up is shoulder stability, core strength, and to have one’s upper body connected with the lower body through the trunk. This exercise improves motor skill development each time it is performed. You cannot be sloppy and unfocused while performing the get up.
If you are like me and bored with your typical gym equipment or looking for a simple, easy to store at-home workout application, check out the kettlebell. Here is the kettlebell I first purchased.
My recommendation would be to start with a 15-30 pound bell (based on current strength/experience levels) to begin your journey. Master the basic movements like swing, squat, press, and get up. As you progress, look to build a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit for a total body workout. You will fall in love with this tool and look to grow your collection with time. Other companies I would recommend are Onnit, Kettlebell Kings and Rogue Fitness.
If you first want to do your own research and read up on the kettlebell and it’s application check out these publications by Pavel Tsatsouline (credited with bringing the kettlebell to America). Pavel has trained everyone from professional athletes to special forces, he is a wealth of knowledge and experience to alternative training methods that get your stronger. His books, Kettlebell Simple & Sinister, Enter The Kettlebell, and Power To The People are great reads to learn about the history
Pavel recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience and recorded a podcast on Tim Ferriss’ show a few years ago. Two episodes you should give a listen.
Take advantage of visual sources such as YouTube and Instagram to see and learn the coaching points on each movement. Get creative in your practice and find what works for you. While the kettlebell is simple, it is not easy.