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Kettlebell Training for Strength, Endurance and General Fitness

Posted Nov 30 2008 12:15pm

I lifted free weights regularly for about 14 years.  The past two years I have focused primarily on running and biking, rarely touching weights.  I’ve felt like something has been missing from my training but didn’t want to go back to the gym because weight lifting is more about building mass and the extra weight would only slow me down while riding or running.  Then I discovered kettlebell training.

What is a kettlebell kettlebells

In simplest terms, it is an iron ball with an iron handle attached.  They range from less than 10 lbs to over 100 lbs.  They have been used by the Russian military for centuries.  Kettlebells have not been used in the US until recently but have gained popularity in past few years.

Kettlebell training

Kettlebell training is oftentimes combined with other exercises that incorporate bags, bricks, crawls, runs, ropes, bungees, and body weight resistance but the bell is the core of the workout.  Exercises like bear crawls or lunges can even be done with kettlebells in each hand to really make them challenging.  Building functional strength is the key difference between kettlebell training and free weights.  In very few sports or activities would it be useful for you to bench press 300 lbs.

Advantages over free weights

One of the biggest advantages of kettlebells is in the time it takes to do your three sets of a particular lift, you could have done three different kettlebell exercises that blasted your entire body and kept your heart rate elevated the entire time.  Free weight workouts are more resting than activity whereas kettlebell training is all about nonstop resistance and activity.  Kettlebell training can be done without a spotter as well (although I recommend a personal trainer when first starting out).  Kettlebells can also be great during the off-season when an athlete may want to focus less on power weight training and more on general fitness and functional strength.  


It is highly recommended to get a personal trainer or take a kettlebell class before ever starting on your own, especially if you have limited experience working out with weights.  You will probably want to stay with the class or trainer anyway.  They will show you the safest way to use kettlebells and how to maximize your workout.  They will also put you through the most grueling but rewarding workouts of your life.  

After your first kettlebell workout you’ll feel like you’ve been smacked around with kettlebells.  But, after a couple kettlebell workouts you’ll feel like you are carved from stone.

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