Kettlebell training is a very effective and efficient exercise method with many benefits.
It improves your cardiovascular fitness while burning calories and provides a complete a full training session in a relatively short amount of time.
There are wide range of exercises that you can perform with kettlebells as well. The movements performed while kettlebell training tend to mimic real-life movements, making it a functional form of exercise. Utilizing kettlebells also helps generate a full-body workout, as you are using multiple muscle groups and joints that will benefit your overall strength and endurance.
Now let’s explore the basic anatomy of a kettlebell and ways kettlebell training to improve the overall fitness of individuals and help athletes in a variety of sports.
Kettlebells work the body in similar ways to barbells, sandbags, and other free weights. Many sports, athletic activities, and everyday activities such as housework or gardening benefit from a stronger body. It is difficult to select a specific sport or sports that benefit from certain kettlebell exercises, as athletes in all types of sports can benefit from the enhancement that kettlebell training provides.So let’s get into details of benefits of kettlebell training. Kettlebell is a training method that provides key advantages in the development of strength, endurance, mobility, and overall conditioning.
When using kettlebells in your training, it is difficult to isolate specific muscles, since training with kettlebells enhances your whole body. For example, when you perform a kettlebell press as in figure 1, every part from your rib cage down will be strongly activated in an isometric contraction to maintain your posture while you press the kettlebell overhead. Your pressing muscles, primarily your deltoid and triceps muscles, are working hard, and your abdominal and gluteal muscles are maintaining the isometric posture in a strong contraction.
Figure 1: Kettlebell Press
Another example is the renegade row, displayed in figure 2. In this exercise, while in the top of a push-up position, you row a weight with your right hand, then with your left hand, and repeat for the set. Your hips should not move, and neither do your legs during this move. Moving from four points of contact (both feet and both kettlebells are touching the ground) to three points of contact (both feet and only one kettlebell is touching the ground while lifting one kettlebell in the air) and back to four points of contact is what makes this exercise great. Maintaining this posture makes the exercise slightly harder, but more beneficial since it trains the appropriate muscles.
Figure 2: Renegade Row
A lot of people think of strength, when they think about kettlebells but forget mobility. However, kettlebells can be used to train both strength and mobility. From a strength perspective, most of the kettlebell exercises can make you stronger and healthier. But using kettlebells to enhance mobility will transform your training and benefit you a lot to be able to move better and decrease your injury potential at the same time. The kettlebell arm bar, in figure 3, is a great example of a mobility workout you can do with kettlebells. When performing this exercise, your thoracic spine and shoulder mobility will increase over time.
Figure 3: Kettlebell Arm Bar
Another very good kettlebell mobility movement is the prying goblet squat shown in figure 4. This particular mobility movement is paramount for anyone doing any type of squatting motion or single-leg movement exercise. Light weights works are recommended for this particular workout such as a 12 kg (26 lb) to a 20 kg (44 lb) kettlebell, as you are not trying to gain strength but instead enhance your hip and pelvic mobility prior to your training session. So you can include this exercise to your warm-up routine of a lower body workout.
Figure 4: Prying Goblet Squat
Performed on a regular basis, these mobility movements will decrease the negative physical stress that our bodies are under. Especially with the advent of electronic devices used nearly 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)
Excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) refers to the increase in metabolism (the rate at which calories are burned) after a training session. After a kettlebell snatch, for example, your metabolism will be increased partly due to the increased amount of oxygen that was consumed. EPOC is one of the positive side effects of high-intensity exercise. For those persons wanting to lose weight, EPOC can definitely help. Understanding EPOC is important especially when you are performing ballistic kettlebell exercises and a few grind exercises, too. Even when you are done exercising, you are still burning calories afterward, even while resting.
In conclusion, kettlebell exercises or adding kettlebell into your workout routine will not only increase your strength but will also lead to better health overall. There are many variations of the basic movements of kettlebell training. However, spending a good deal of time learning to do the basic movements first and then start incorporating variations, if needed will benefit you more if you’re a beginner or not familiar with kettlebell training.
Header photo by Ketut Subiyanto
Kettlebell Strength Training Anatomy