What are Kettlebells?
The “kettlebell” is a cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle attached. History places the origin of the kettlebell, or girya, to Eastern Europe, a very long time ago. They were thought to have been used as counterweights at Russian markets. At the end of the day, the workers would swing, toss and juggle these weights for fun and exercise. This was passed from generation to generation and became part of the culture. Eventually this evolved into sport. The first “official” Russian KB competition took place in 1948.
Kettlebells contributed to the success of the Soviet throwers in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. They literally swept gold in all of the throwing events and even set new Olympic as well as World records. Kettlebells are also the training tool of choice for the Soviet Special Operations (Spetznaz). In the United States the elite of the US military and law enforcement can also be found swinging a KB. As the word has spread Kettlebells have been utilized by martial artists, athletes, and have finally started creeping into the neighborhood health clubs.
Why Train with Them?
Kettlebells have a predominately Russian heritage dating back to the early twentieth century. Made traditionally from cast iron, they have a U-shaped handle and are available in a wide range of weights for both men and women.
When lifted and swung away from the body using momentum and inertia (thus putting movement back into the equation of daily life where it belongs) kettlebells provide a low impact, simultaneous cardiovascular and strength workout in less than an hour. More importantly, the skills acquired through kettlebell lifting not only have application for fitness and will significantly improve the users physique, but they will also make the user a much more efficient “mover” as they negotiate real life obstacles in (in its many forms) out of the gym as well—where it really matters.
The Kettlebell is a highly effective and efficient tool for rapid gains in functional strength, power, endurance, speed, coordinative timing, dynamic flexibility and mental focus. The key to its effectiveness is the “U” shaped handle - it creates additional momentum, an inherent characteristic in all human movement.
Unlike machines and traditional weight training, kettlebells teach you how to use momentum to your advantage. The better prepared you are to control and direct momentum, the less risk of injury and greater ease with which you execute any movement. Kettlebell training will maximize performance (and minimize injury) in all movement-oriented activities including running; golf; dance; baseball; cycling; tennis; ski/snowboarding; boxing; skating; yoga and martial arts.
Train with kettlebells and within weeks you’ll not only experience significant improvement in “real world” ability, you’ll have more strength and endurance too.