Getting started with kettlebells.

I thought I would write a blog post today about my love of cannonballs with handles on them (kettlebells!) I have been using kettlebells for about 3 years now and I am still constantly surprised by their versatility and effectiveness.

               I was first encouraged to look into kettlebell fitness when studying chiropractic by a great lecturer (thank you ACDC!). The journey started with reading and watching Pavel Tsatsoulines books and videos (some are available on YouTube). As I was studying about biomechanics and rehabilitation at the time, I noticed many of the concepts and recommendations overlapped making them an immensely powerful tool. As people are looking to fill the fitness void that Covid-19 has created, I thought it would be a good idea to share the importance of kettlebells.

               Kettlebells make you strong, build your endurance, increase flexibility, and help with fat loss. Many kettlebell exercises are full body exercises which means more muscles used (more strength), greater oxygen demand (endurance training), use a large range of motion (increasing flexibility) and more calories burned (better fat loss). The unbalanced weight also translates better to real life activities and uses more stabilising muscles which means they are great for rehab too.

               Kettlebells are extremely easy to learn and use, especially the movements that are like the Olympic lifts which with a barbell takes years to get the hang of and a lifetime to master. Kettlebell front squats and goblet squats are great for your posture and are easier on the shoulders, elbows, and wrists than barbell squats.

               Another benefit is kettlebells do not take up much space themselves and you do not require much space to work out. I would however recommend training in an open space to begin with just to be safe. As you train with kettlebells you will start to move better and you as you do along with the better posture you have gained your aches and pains will fade away!

To get started I would recommend the following weights

Women with little training.8kg.
Women with some training.12kg.
Women with lots of training.16kg.
Men with little training.16kg.
Men with some training.20kg.
Men with lots of training.24kg.
*these are to be used as a rough guideline.

Now let us look at some basic exercises to get you started.

The deadlift. This uses the muscles of the posterior chain, which is compromised of the muscles at from the back of your shoulders down to your calves.

The goblet squat. This movement mimics everyday movement, getting out of a chair and on/off the toilet to name a few! Making this movement strong will reduce your chances of leg and back pain and help keep movement throughout you life.

The press. The press has somewhat dropped out of fashion as many people bench press but few overhead press. This movement is great as it can help correct posture, improve shoulder stability and build strong muscles that translate to daily living.

The swing. If I had to pick one movement that corrects many dysfunctions in one, it would be the swing. These dysfunctions could include:

  • Weak rhomboids causing your shoulders to round? Swings can help.
  • Glutes not firing meaning you put excess stress on your knees? Swings can help.
  • Weak low back muscles due to de-conditioning because of too much sitting? Swings can help. I personally keep a kettlebell close to my work station so that if I am sat down too long I can throw in some swings to switch all my postural muscles on.
  • The row. The icing on the cake. Rows can hit all the major muscles on the back which can help prevent imbalances from pressing. With kettlebells you are already working your lower back with the swings and deadlifts, so I would row using a bench just so you can focus on the upper back and save your lower back for deadlifts and swings.

Putting it all together.

Kettlebells can be used to build strength, endurance, flexibility and promote fat loss. If you want to know more about kettlebell routines, programming and more information I highly recommend looking at Dan John’s website. His books are great resources and they can be found here. Additionally, I have provided some amazon links below.

2 thoughts on “Getting started with kettlebells.

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