“When we say ‘kettlebell’ we mean strength; when we say ‘strength’ we mean kettlebell.” – (in an awesome, thick Russian accent) Pavel Tsatsouline, the popularizer of and foremost authority on the kettlebell in the US (go ahead and read it again with a Russian accent.)
If you’ve spent anytime around me, you know that I love the kettlebell. I think the kettlebell is the most versatile and the most effective piece of exercise equipment on the planet. I want to share a few reasons why I love it.
The kettlebell is simple. From the way is looks to the movements you can do with it, its simple. The most basic and most famous movement with the kettlebell is the swing, and because the swing is a ballistic movement, you get a combination of cardio and strength, in one movement. One of the programs I follow is called ‘Simple and Sinister’. You can check out the workout here, but the jist is you can do a simple, yet great work out in about 15-20 minutes. Anyone can find and extra 15-20 minutes in their day to devote to this program.
Not only are the movements and exercises simple, the kettlebell itself is too. It takes up virtually no space in my living room, I don’t have to walk from station to station like I did in the gym, and I can bring it with me where ever I go. I brought one on our family’s recent cross country vacation. I frequently bring my kettlebell to my office and use it throughout the day to practice a movement or get me up on my feet and moving after sitting awhile. Can’t do that with a machine or barbell.
As an added bonus, there is definitely a ‘cool’ factor to the kettlebell given its simple, yet effective movements, and its simple, yet iconic design. It looks cool when people swing them and you feel cool when you swing them…kettlebells are cool.
I love the kettlebell because it lends itself well to the kind of ‘generalist’ strength I’m pursuing. I want to have a general and balanced strength that allows me to do what I want to do. If you want to pursue a particular goal in your fitness, like deadlift 500lbs or you want become a marathon runner, the kettlebell probably isn’t for you, or at least shouldn’t be your main training tool. But if you, like me, want to pursue a general strength, then the kettlebell is for you.
I’m a father of one boy, and our daughter is to be born in the next few weeks. Right now I’m working two part time jobs devoting about 28 hours/week at one and 20 hours/week at the other and next year I’ll be working a seasonal job consisting of 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week. I write occasionally, record a podcast, do fun things with the family, am involved in various groups and community endeavors, etc…all that to say, I’m busy. And you are busy too, I’m sure. I don’t have time to devote hours, even an hour daily, leaving my house to go to the gym to become stronger. I need something that does the most work for me, in the smallest amount of time, that I can do from home. The kettlebell does that for me.
The kettlebell is so versatile and effective there is a phenomena known as the ‘What the Hell Effect’ that people have experienced. The idea is that if you devote yourself to the basic movements of the kettlebell (swing, clean, press, snatch, squat, get up) you will find that some muscles get stronger, even though you have not intentionally trained them, and you get better at other movements that you have not done for a while. Your abs get tighter, your dibs and pull ups get better, your deadlift increases.
If you want to see the effectiveness of the kettlebell and experience the ‘What the Hell Effect’ just do 100-200 total swings in sets of 10, resting for 30-40 seconds between sets, for four days/week for a month. It will only take you about 15 minutes of work time, but by the end of that month, you’ll feel like you can run through a wall and you will (probably) be able to.
Want to work out, but you are on a budget? Invest in a kettlebell and you will get a high return on your investment.
I admit it, I’m cheap. I hate spending money. If I decide to become a member at a gym, I’ll pay $500-700/year. If my wife also wants to join, its double the money spent at the end of the year. With that money, I might as well buy all of my own equipment and start a home gym. With the kettlebell, its buy once, cry once.
Now a hunk metal isn’t cheap. A higher end 24kg kettlebell, like one from Rouge fitness, will run you about $90. But the beauty of kettlebell is that you don’t need a bell in each weight; you really only need a few in different weights; heck you can get strong with just one weight. I have two kettlebells a 45lb (20.4kgs) and 55lb (24.9kgs) and I do most of my training with the 55lb and could easily continue to just use that weight and still get strong. For me, it works.
To the day I die, I will be an advocate for the kettlebell. Among the kettlebell movements, the Turkish Get Up and the Snatch are my all time favorite. Look them up on YouTube for a good time. The kettlebell may work for you and it may not. For the reasons listed above, it works for my stage of life and what I’m trying to pursue. About the only other tool that I don’t have accessible to me right now is the barbell for deadlifts, but at least with the kettlebell I can still practice the hip hinge movement and develop hard driving hip power for when I can do deadlifts.
Want to change your life? Start swinging bells!…(and pressing, snatching, cleaning, squatting, and getting up with them, of course).