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Over the last decade, kettlebell training has become increasingly popular, making its way into bootcamps and CrossFit classes across the globe. Yet somehow, the full-body conditioning tool is often overlooked and underutilized in regular fitness routines.
As an effective strength training alternative to dumbbells and barbells, the kettlebell is a fantastic way to shape up and strengthen your body from head to toe. By its design, the dome-shaped iron weight can be used to boost strength and power development, build core strength and stability, and increase endurance. All while beating boredom and blasting plateaus.
The reason behind kettlebells’ effectiveness? “Kettlebell training combines explosive strength with muscular endurance to provide efficient and athletic training,” says Sarah Gawron, a New York City-based strength coach ONNIT-certified kettlebell flow expert, and founder of Kettlebell Strong, based out of Solace NYC.
Gawron, aka “Coach Sarah,” who is also certified with CrossFit L2, USA Weightlifting L2, and Kettlebell Athletic, is here to smash the myths surrounding kettlebell training while providing all the reasons you should be adding kettlebells to your regularly scheduled training routine.
If you’re one of many gymgoers still reluctant to commit to kettlebell training for fear of injury or just uneasiness regarding the training tool’s technique and benefits, Gawron says don’t let these common kettlebell misconceptions. Knowing kettlebell truth from fiction is the first step toward making additional gains to your training.
“Some people get confused by seeing hardstyle, Kettlebell Sport, or some hybrid of the two and want to know which style is ‘correct,” she says. But since movement can take so many different forms, there is no “wrong” way to move.
Although both kettlebells and dumbbells do a body good, there happens to be a surprising difference between the two.
Interestingly, the design of the kettlebell allows for a fuller and greater range of motion when training. “For example, the strict press, (when using a kettlebell), you can use the full range of the shoulder joint,” Gawron says. “When using a dumbbell or barbell, because of their design, the movement is shortened.”
Unlike barbells or dumbbells, kettlebell exercises allow the body to train different planes, where movements executed with a dumbbell and barbell are typically done in just the sagittal plane), recruit stabilizer muscles more, therefore making joints stronger, and require the body to evenly generate force in order to execute movements efficiently.
“The design of the kettlebell makes it unique and different compared to conventional tools like dumbbells,” Gawron says. “A kettlebell’s center of gravity is offset from its handle—it rests several inches away, requiring the stabilizer muscles to engage more to balance the weight during a movement,” she says, giving you more bang for your buck when pumping iron.
Get ready to add kettlebells to your sweat sessions as they have proven themselves to be an excellent tool for total body conditioning. “Kettlebell training is a fine balance of improving mobility, building stability through joints, increasing muscle, and developing power,” Gawron says.
The conventional and traditional movements of kettlebell training such as the swing, clean, and snatch are all power and strength movements. “It is important to have such power movements in your training to help develop stronger, more resilient connective tissue; specifically, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and joint capsules,” she explains.
Kettlebell training also develops grip strength and helps aid in improving coordination and mobility. And of course, kettlebells crush the core as well.
“You can use kettlebells in a variety of ways: circuits, flow, strengthen exercises to build strength and improve cardiovascularly,” Gawron says. And you can train anywhere; the beach, a park, in the comfort of your own home, or your local gym!
You don’t need to invest much to get started in Kettlebell training. In fact, a person can accomplish a lot with a light, medium, and heavyweight. Here are Coach Sarah’s top three favorite Kettlebell Brands for you to choose from:
Keep in mind: Each company’s kettlebell mold is slightly different. One brand might have a long or thicker handle and the kettlebell will sit differently in the rack position. Consulting with a kettlebell instructor or professional will help take the guesswork out of what kettlebell works best for you.
Oftentimes, people may get intimidated by kettlebell terminology, one of those being a flow. A flow, according to Gawron, is like a dance, a combination of one move, say, a kettlebell swing, leading into another, like a clean, and continuing in what looks like a choreographed routine. It’s almost like a zen-like state with a kettlebell, and before you know it, you’re moving the bell for five minutes without putting it down. keeping up with those around us that but if we can really channel in and move with purpose. So I find that flow work really helps with that. Because now your focus on the movement, you’re in tune with your breath. So that way, you can move with the bell for five plus minutes at a time without putting it down.
“I find with a lot of students or people who are interested in wanting to start using the tool is that they see all these crazy flows, or they look really impressive on social media. But as simple like flow could be a swing, even simplify, it’ll be like a clean, a press a squat. That’s it. And you can just do the clean squat to overhead. And once I explain or tell people that that’s a flow, they’re like, oh, I can do that.
Inspired to kettlebell train? Let’s begin!
Block A (3 rounds, done as a circuit). Use this as a warmup for the two blocks that follow this.
Block B (Strength): 3-4 sets / Rest as needed between sets. Try to keep the flow going from one move to the next.
Block C (Core Cashout): — 3 sets of 30 seconds on/15 seconds off