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One of the latest additions to the gyms and athletic training centers is Kettlebells.
A Kettlebell, unlike many other fancy & latest gym equipments is a no non-sense and nearly complete tool. Using a kettlebell (or a pair) a person can benefit in all areas of fitness like cardio-vascular endurance, strength, flexibility, fat loss, power, speed, anaerobic capacity & conditioning (strength-endurance). It should be noted that a kettlebell alone is not the best choice for specific goals like maximal strength or size. A barbell or a dumbbell can be better tools for that purpose. However, if used in the combination with barbells & dumbbells, kettlebells can really boost your results and improve your other attributes of general fitness as well.
What is a kettlebell?
A kettlebell is a Russian strength & conditioning tool which looks like a cannon ball with a handle. The unique design of the kettlebell allows to insert the hand in the handle and keep the wrist in the neutral position which delays forearm fatigue in the core lifts thereby enabling us to generate more volume. Greater volume ensures greater conditioning and more work done.
What are the exercises that are done using kettlebells?
Exercises that can done using kettlebells are :
a) Ballistic lifts : which involve a high degree of movement, inertia & fluid explosiveness. Eg: swings, cleans, jerks & snatches. These are the power movements involving nearly all the joints of the body hence recruiting more muscles than any other exercise and strengthen the kinetic chain of the body.
b) High tension lifts : which involves constant tension like the regular strength training exercises Eg: squats, deadlifts, rows, presses & core exercises. In this way, a kettlebell can mimic the function of the regular dumbbells too. However certain exercises can be done better with the help of kettlebells in a way that they challenge more of the core due to increased stabilization demands. For example : Inverted presses, Turkish get ups, Windmill, Renegade rows etc.
The tension can also be regulated in a single rep by the trainee depending on his goal & the weight of the kettlebell used.
What are the benefits of Kettlebell training to different categories of people ?
For a person looking for general fitness, a kettlebell alone can give an overall improvement in all attributes of fitness like endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility & improvement in body composition in the least amount of time. Just 3-4 sessions in a week of 40-45 minutes can significantly boost his results.
For a heavy strength trainee or a bodybuilder, one or two added sessions in a week of 10-15 mins with kettlebells can significantly boost his cardio-vascular endurance, conditioning, force generation capacity and also will keep the body fat levels to the minimum.
For athletes, the addition of kettlebells in their training can really boost their conditioning, explosiveness, speed, agility, coordination and balance required for their sport resulting in better performance.
For regular gym goers, kettlebells add variety and fun element in their workouts hence avoids monotony and boredom.
Kettlebells sessions are also a great success in group activity classes and also for children’s fitness programs.
How much space is needed for kettlebell training?
Training with kettlebells does not require much space. A mere 3ft x 3ft space is enough to train with the kettlebells.
What is Kettlebell sport ?
Kettlebell sport (also called Girevoy sport) is becoming very popular around the world. It is one of the toughest sports in the world which involves the elements of strength-power-endurance and requires tremendous anaerobic threshold and mental toughness. Efforts are being made to bring this sport to Olympics.
There are 2 main events – Biathlon (Jerk first and then Snatch later) & Long cycle (Clean and Jerk in every rep). Men use 2 kettlebells in Jerk & Long Cycle and 1 kettlebell in Snatch. Women use 1 kettlebell for all the events. The person who does maximum reps in the allotted 10 mins without keeping the kettlebell down is the winner.
-Abhinav Malhotra (IKSFA kettlebell sport coach & IKFF certified in kettlebell training ; International Kettlebell Sport athlete)