A middle-aged woman using a kettlebell

Kettlebells have really become popular and now you can find them in any well-equipped gym or studio.

The reason for this is that they’re a great way to train, but they’re also tricky to do if you’ve never used them before. They originally became popular in Russia in the 1800s, although some rumour that they come from ancient Greece. Pavel Tsatsouline can be credited with popularising them as he swore by them for his training while working in Russian Special Forces. His point of view is that they’re like dumbbells but better and come with all the same benefits and more. The reason kettlebell training is unique is that the weight’s centre of mass is away from the hand, meaning that they’re unstable and less predictable, which makes them great for swinging exercises.

Swing when you’re winning

Almost every kettlebell exercise is based around the distinctive swing movement you see with kettlebells. One of the reasons it’s so effective is that it’s not a swing done with the arms, it gets momentum from the movement of the body. As the body moves from a hip hinge to standing up straight, using the back, hamstring and glutes explosively, the movement puts momentum into the kettlebell which swings outwards and then back again. This is a great exercise to practice but make sure your back is straight and not rounded because this is one of the most important aspects of kettlebell posture.

Is Kettlebell Training Effective?

Kettlebells are awesome at getting your blood flowing and you’ll quickly find your heart racing. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that you can burn over 270 calories in a 20 minute kettlebell workout, which matches what you could expect in a cardio class. Plus, you’re getting a strength workout at the same time.

Kettlebell Training is not High-Impact

The exercises involved tend to flow from one movement or position to another, much in the same way that you’d find in yoga. With practice, you can get smooth transitions that offer a solid workout for your muscles without jarring your joints. Not that we’d caution against something like plyometrics, but different exercises suit different people and getting a low-impact strength workout can be a real boost to your week.

It Offers Real-World Benefits

Any exercise that offers real-world benefits is often referred to as ‘functional training’, which means that it’s a good exercise for muscular endurance, the respiratory system and overall mobility. The advantage of this is that these are the types of fitness we rely on in everyday life. So, if you hit the gym and train that bicep at the expense of everything else, that’s not very functional, whereas with kettlebell training you’ll see the improvements during everyday life and across the other forms of training you do.

Can You Build Muscle with Kettlebells?

Yes, kettlebell training is a great exercise for building muscle!

Kettlebells are very versatile and a great tool for building muscle, but this will depend on overall training volume, alongisde load and intensity, recovery and rest periods.

Exercises that can help you to build muscle with kettlebells include kettlebell deadlifts, kettlebell push presses, kettlebell swings, kettlebell windmills, and kettlebell snatches.

You Can Easily Add Kettlebell Training to a Routine

Kettlebells are a popular part of many circuit training programmes, which means that you can easily add it to strength training, HIIT or cardio. It may be a little counter-productive to do a heavy bench-press after a run but it makes perfect sense to add in some kettlebell swings instead.

To discover how best to use a kettle bell and other equipment, join a Underground Gym near you and work with our personal training team.