"What is a kettlebell?Kettlebells (often abbreviated to KBs) are cast iron or rubber weights with handles for holding and swinging them, or "a cannonball with a handle". It is believed that the kettlebell derives from Russia, where it is known as a girya, with evidence that it was used up to 200 years ago. Kettlebells are visible in the court gym of the Russian Tsars in the late 1800's and these ancient weights have became collectors items. Kettlebells are cast in multiplies of 16kg, the traditional Russian "pood" and generally range in weight from 4kg to 32kg, increasing in 4kg increments but lighter and heavier weights can also be found as well as adjustable kettlebells. Many pictures are extent from the early 1900s of famous strongmen such as Eugene Sandow using kettlebells as part of their training. As the strongman circuit moved more towards heavy lifts in established exercises such as bench press, deadlift and squat, and away from general feats of strength, the kettlebell faded away.
The West rediscovered the kettlebell with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Valery Fedorenko is accredited with introducing kettlebell lifting to the American public when he immigrated there in 1992 and as chief advisor of the World Kettlebell Club has seen the practise of kettlebell lifting grow internationally. Kettlebell lifting was further popularised by Pavel "the evil Russian" Tsatsouline. Responsible for preparing Soviet troops for the invasion of Afghanistan, Tsatsouline now shares his massive physical training knowledge with the US Marines and other branches of the US Army. As one of the worlds most respected and well known fitness coaches he has been in a unique position to promote kettlebell lifting both as a sport and exercise tool.
"Lifting? So it's only good for building strength?"Wrong! Not alone can kettlebell lifting be used to increase strength, it can also be used for endurance, agility and balance. Kettlebell lifting provides a full body workout and while heavy kettlebells can be used over short lengths of time to train for strength gain, lighter kettlebells can be used over longer sessions to train your cardiovascular system. Celebrities such as Claire Danes and Penelope Cruz use kettlebells to tone their bodies and stay in shape while 25+ stone Olympic Weightlifting Champion Vasiliy Alekseyev, one of the strongest men of all time, incorporated kettlebell training into his regime on route to a 256kg Clean and Jerk. One of the most famous kettlebell pictures was taken of Lance Armstrong when he used them preparation for his return to competitive cycling in 2009 and coaches at both Liverpool and Chelsea Football Clubs have being using kettlebells with their players. With training tool this versatile, no matter what your exercise aims are kettlebells are for you!
Can I sell all the weights I own and just buy kettlebells?"You can, but I wouldn't advise it. Kettlebells are a great training tool but should only be used as part of a larger training regime. Many detractors argue that all the exercises you can do with kettlebells can be done with dumbbells and barbells. Sometimes this is true, sometimes it easier to do an exercise with a kettlebell, and certain exercises can only be done with kettlebells.
Is there a competitive aspect to kettlebells?There is. In 2009 the World Kettlebell Club, the organisation ran by Valery Fedorenko, held a world championships in Kettlebell lifting in Chicago and in 2010 held two competitions. The International Union of Kettlebell Lifting holds European and World Championships in many ages groups throughout the year, mainly in Eastern Europe and the kettlebell has found a place in the scedule of the Arnold Classic. Kilkenny Kettlebel Club held the first kettlebell competition in Ireland in 2010 and there are a number of competitions planned for Ireland for 2011. The Ranking section goes into attaining a kettlebell rank which is required to compete at certain competitions and also describes what a competition consists of.
"So, where do I start?"As with all types of exercise you should seek out the guidance of a trained professional and I will be adding a list of trainers and sessions they offer in the Classes section. Or, if you have a background in exercise and fitness, you can check out the Suppliers" section, get a like kettlebell or two to start with and check out some of the basic exercises such as the kettlebell swing. Then it's just a matter of working hard!
Below I've included a video of a guy who got some kbs and lost some weight. The exercises that he is doing, kettlebell juggling, are a bit advanced, but he is enjoying what he is doing and the video shows many of the benefits of kettlebell lifting. After 40 seconds he does the "Turkish getup"
I would advise you turn off the sound though...