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.
Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettlebell exercises often involve large numbers of repetitions. Kettlebell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks. This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to high-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting. In one study, kettlebell enthusiasts performing a 20-minute snatch workout were measured to burn, on average, 13.6 calories/minute aerobically and 6.6 calories/minute anaerobically during the entire workout - "equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace". Because of their high repetitions, kettlebell progression should start out slowly to build muscle endurance, support the joints and prevent injury.
The movements used in kettlebell exercise can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems, or a weak core. However, if done properly they can also be very beneficial to health. They offer improved mobility, range of motion and increased strength.
The foundation kettlebell exercise is the kettlebell swing. The swing can be done with 1 or 2 hands. It involves hiking the kettlebell between your legs before using your hips and posterior chain to propel the kettlebell forward and up in a circular swing movement before it drops under control back between your legs. The following great benefits can be gained by training with kettlebell swings.
1). Kettlebells are highly efficient and allow you to do fitness and weight training in one workout at the same time.
2). Swings develop the important posterior chain muscles of the body such as the hamstrings, glutes, core and back. These muscles are often overlooked with traditional weight training but they are crucial for a large number of sports as these muscles are heavily involved in sprinting, jumping and tackling movements.
3). A kettlebell swing is a perfect choice of exercise for tabata training. This very short but intense style of training is ideal for kettlebell swings as they hit a lot of muscle at one time and get the heart rate soaring. Although Tabata training only involves work periods of 20 seconds with 10 seconds of rest it is very brutal but very effective.
4). Swings work the abs and strengthen the core muscles as they provide a stable platform for other muscles to pull from. Traditional crunches are useless and do nothing for you, hit your abs with functional abdominal training that actually has benefit in the real world.
5). A key benefit of kettlebell swings is that they train all parts of the back from the lower back all the way to traps. They train all the muscles together giving you a great functional workout
6). High rep swings also develop back endurance which Professor Stuart McGill a leading spine/back expert considers has a very positive effect on the reduction of back injuries.
7). Swings are a fantastic conditioner and body fat burner. More and more studies are concluding that greater body fat burning occurs when training is performed at higher intensity levels rather than long slow endurance type training.
The above are only some of the benefits a program of kettlebell swings can provide. Although it sounds too good to be true there is a downside of kettlebell swings ... they are hard work. However, if you build into your program gradually, a program based around kettlebell swing movements will provide fantastic workouts to get you fit, lean and healthy in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Kettlebells were developed in Russia in the 1700s, primarily for weighing crops. It is said that these farmers became stronger and found them useful for showing off their strength during festivals. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century. They had been used for competition and sports throughout Russia and Europe since the 1940s.
The kettlebell was used not only to develop strength and ability. Circus strongmen appeared in the circus companies. They lifted enormous weights, juggled skillfully