3 of The Many Benefits of Kettlebell Training
Kettlebell training has had a steep rise in popularity over the last twenty to thirty years. Like most things good about strength and conditioning, kettlebells originated in Russia. Exactly when they originated is somewhat unclear, but it is thought they started appearing around 350 years ago as a weighted counterweight for weighing food. Naturally, over the years, people started throwing them around and using them for strength training. Over time kettlebell training progressed to the point to where in 1948, it became the national sport of the Soviet Union.
From there, kettlebell training has exploded, and you can find them in strength and conditioning gyms, CrossFit gyms and peoples homes across the globe. Kettlebells are great for athletes, conditioning, explosive training and make a handy tool for training at home due to the versatility and taking up minimal space.
Let's take a look at some benefits of training with kettlebells.
Kettlebells Swings for Strength and Power
For many, the first exercise performed with a kettlebell is usually the kettlebell swing and for a good reason. A great lower body exercise that works the glutes and hamstrings swings also improve your hip hinge - a movement that can be transferrable to many other exercises.
If your goal is increasing strength and power, supplementing in kettlebell swings can be an effective way to improve these while adding some variety to your training. For example, one study showed that both explosive deadlifts and kettlebell swings were effective at increasing vertical jump height. Another 2012 study showed that kettlebell swings performed over 6 weeks increased both maximal and explosive strength.
A kettlebell swing is a great exercise that can be added to many programs. Whether the goal is strength, power or both, adding in the kettlebell swing is a great way to mix things up from the barbell or dumbbell and still make progress. Even if strength and power aren't your goals, the swing is a fantastic exercise for lower body days.
Kettlebells for Conditioning and Burning Calories
When people think of cardio and conditioning, the atypical things that come to mind are treadmills, rowers, bikes and maybe some sprints. Rarely do people go to a kettlebell as a piece of conditioning equipment.
Whether it be working on your aerobic endurance or some interval training to work on your metabolic conditioning, kettlebell training can be effective fo improving your conditioning in a number of areas. A testament to kettlebells efficacy on improving conditioning, one study that compared high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with sprint interval cycling (SIC). The researchers concluded that kettlebell HIIT, quote: ''may be more attractive and sustainable than SIC and can be effective in stimulating cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses that could improve health and aerobic performance''. Furthermore, the study also found that kettlebell training burned more calories.
So next time you want to burn some calories and improve your conditioning, consider a kettlebell. They are great for at home too and guaranteed to take up less space than a treadmill, bike or rower.
Kettlebells For When You Cant Get to the Gym
As I mentioned above, a benefit to training with kettlebells is that they take up minimal space, while still being an effective piece of training equipment. This point is particularly relevant in the post-pandemic world, where lockdowns can shut gyms. Or it could just be that you want the option to work out from home from time-to-time without an elaborate home gym setup. In either of these scenarios, kettlebell training is a fantastic option.
To give an example of how effective and transferrable kettlebell training might be. One study looked at the transfer of strength and power of 10 weeks of kettlebell training to powerlifting and weightlifting. The researchers concluded that:
''The results demonstrate a transfer of power and strength in response to 10 weeks of training with kettlebells. Traditional training methods may not be convenient or accessible for strength and conditioning specialists, athletes, coaches, and recreational exercisers. The current data suggest that kettlebells may be an effective alternative tool to improve performance in weightlifting and powerlifting''.
The results of this study show that if for whatever reason - whether a pandemic shuts the gym, or something else - you cannot get to a gym for a while, kettlebell training is an effective alternative. At least until you can get back to the gym. It may even help you improve your, or at the very least maintain.
There are many, many more benefits to training with kettlebells other than the one the ones above. The purpose of this article was to highlight some of the main benefits. And to show what an effective piece of minimalist equipment kettlebells can be, should you not have access to a gym for any reason.