What Kettlebells Will Do for Your Workout

Kettlebells (also know as kettlebells) look like bowling balls with handles.  In 2009, the American Council on Exercise named them one of the top fitness trends. And many other fitness experts tout kettlebells as being the latest, greatest way to build muscle and core strength.

Kettlebells are made of cast iron and weigh between two and a hundred pounds. Like barbells or dumbbells, they're used for strength training.  Kettlebells are different though because while other weight systems focus on limited, specific muscles, kettlebells require lifters to engage many muscle groups at once to control and lift them.  Kettlebells work core muscles, legs, back, and arms-all at the same time.

Kettlebells originated in Russia in the 18th century and became popular among bodybuilders. They found their way into contemporary American gyms through exercise programs like Crossfit that emphasize total body workouts, basic training, and boot camp-style programs.  Kettlebell enthusiasts claim these balls provide a better, more real-life, training experience because you're forced to use your whole body to stabilize the weight.  Weight machines do the stabilizing for you.  Lifting a kettlebell is said to be similar to lifting a child, groceries or heavy box and therefore conditions you better for real-life experiences. 

Kettlebells are safe when the lifter is already well-conditioned and knows proper techniques to do specific exercises.  The trick is in the technique. Many kettlebell DVDs and classes teach the basics, but it's highly recommended that you get an experienced personal trainer to show you the ropes. For example,  Crossfit trainer, Jeff Martone demonstrates basic kettlebell exercises (like the Kettlebell swing, kettlebell snatch and the Turkish get up-sit up on video.

Kettlebell injuries are common.  According to the American Council on Exercise, inexperienced lifters may end up swinging them incorrectly, creating a ballistic movement that could injure joints, ligaments, or muscles. Start with light weight until you have a handle on technique, then work your way up to increasingly heavier Kettlebells. 

Kettlebell is more than just another way to get fit.  It's a competitive sport similar to bodybuilding with international competitions, associations, and federations.  Check out the American Kettlebell Club and the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation for more information.