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back to the bell.

June 29, 2011

The kettlebell. Ever heard of such a thing?

That is my own kettlebell, in its 15-pound glory. I can’t lift any more than that at this current moment. I first heard of the kettlebell several years ago, from friends who exercised with it religiously, but I didn’t ever try it until exactly a year ago (thanks for teaching me how to use it, Andi!). A kettlebell is, according to Wikipedia, “a cast iron weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.” Also, “unlike traditional dumbbells, the kettlebell’s center of mass is extended beyond the hand, similar to Indian clubs or ishi sashi. This necessitates ballistic and swinging movements.By their nature, typical kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once,and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.”

According to this website, Diets in Review, “kettlebells are a great total body workout that improve muscle tone and reduce body fat.” Benefits of kettlebells for women are:

  1. Reduce body fat
  2. Firm entire upper body
  3. Firm entire lower body
  4. Improve core stability
  5. Improve balance and coordination
  6. Increase energy levels
  7. Increase bone density
  8. Improve circulation
  9. Improve sleep
  10. Increase self-esteem

WebMD and Livestrong also have some good articles about the benefits of kettlebells. Apparently, one study claimed that doing a 20-minute kettlebell workout burned approx. 400 calories and is roughly equivalent to doing a 6-minute mile. Can you believe that?!

Anyway, I’ve known for a good long while now that strength-training is really good for you, but I just get intimidated going to the gym to lift weights. When I talked to my friend Andi about this, she suggested using kettlebells not only for strength-training but to improve my running. Within a year, my running has improved immensely – due to running consistently and safely, eating well and using kettlebells. However, I’ve gotten away from doing it these last 4-5 months. Today, after work, I started it up again. I hope to do my kettlebell workout at least 2x a week, when I am not running.

3 sets of 20 reps, 5 exercises. Four of them are here posted below. I couldn’t find the last exercise that I do, which is a one-handed swing thing of sorts. It’s a lot of squats at the same time, so if I calculate this correctly, I did 300 squats total. Yep. My thighs are feeling it right now.

deadlift

(image credit here)

snatch push & pull press

(image credit here)

swing

 (image credit here)

lateral swing

(image credit here)

Like I said above, I use a 15 pound kettlebell. I remember buying a 7 pound one a year and a half ago, and it came with a DVD. I tried the DVD but I was really nervous that I wasn’t doing it properly so I stopped using it. I didn’t want to injure myself. Then Andi showed me how to use a 15-lb weight. I was glad for this because Andi is so knowledgeable about the kettlebell (and she’s also an AMAZING runner, like blazing fast) so I knew I was doing the exercises properly. Oddly enough, the heavier weight I used, my form improved as opposed to when I used the rinky-dink 7-lb weight. I think this is because I couldn’t just sling the kettlebell around. It’s pretty heavy for me, but doable. In fact, I think I might be ready to move up to the next weight level (20 lbs) for a new challenge to my muscles, or I may just add a couple of new exercises. I might do that instead, after a few months – more budget friendly (a kettlebell can be pretty pricey).

Friends, I highly recommend giving kettlebells a try. Check with your doctor to make sure that this is an okay workout for you to attempt and have someone show you how to do the movements properly or even attend a kettlebells class at your local gym, to prevent injuries. You won’t regret it. It’s an amazing workout, you don’t need to leave your house or apartment to do it, and you will see results in about a month or so (at least, I have, with my legs and arms). This isn’t a light workout, though it is pretty low-impact compared to running, because you will sweat buckets. Like me.

(this picture doesn’t do justice. I was sweating a TON.)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2011 1:13 pm

    I have a 15lb kettlebell that just sits in my closet. I need to get it out and try it again. A friend gave it to me with a video. I watched the video and tried the warm up moves, but have not touched it since. Thanks for your input, maybe I can drag the bell out soon.

    • July 5, 2011 1:51 pm

      You’re welcome! Let me know if you want me to show you how to do some of the kbell moves.

  2. Lisa @ Eat.Pray.Run. permalink
    June 30, 2011 2:10 pm

    LOVE this post–thank you! i’ve never used a kettlebell, but have wondered about them. i love the pictures you included–i’m a visual learner! i’m always looking for things i can do at home. i hate doing weights at the gym, but i know that i need to keep building my strength (and flexibility) to be able to keep running without injury. way to get your sweat on!!

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