The kettlebell is a well known exercise tool found in many gyms and used by a plethora of fitness fanatics. It is one of my favourite ways to exercise and can be used to strengthen muscles as well as improve cardiovascular fitness.
As we enter a new year, many of us may be keen to try new ways of exercising. And so, if the kettlebell is new to you, here are 5 things to know before picking up your new workout partner.
1. Standing the test of time
Did you know kettlebells are one of the most historic pieces of exercise equipment? Their origin is in ancient Russia, with the first recorded mention of girya, meaning a weight made of cast iron, was in a 1704 Russian dictionary. For many years, kettlebells were used as counterweights to measure goods in the local markets of farming villages, but they eventually became a way to demonstrate strength and soon spread far and wide to European contests, festivals and even circuses – and this is how they got to where they are today.
2. Motion > muscle
The main thing to remember when performing most kettlebell exercises is that it’s about momentum. For example, when doing the kettlebell swing you should not feel resistance in the arms (as you would when performing an arm raise) but rather the kettlebell will move forward and upward by driving power through the lower body to create one fluid movement.
3. Form is key
Correct posture is vital in any exercise, from deadlifting to walking. But when exercising with weights such as a kettlebell, really knowing what good form looks like is key. Without neutral spinal alignment and safe technique, it is without question that you will do more damage than good. Talk to a fitness instructor in your local gym or drop me a message on instagram for ‘good form’ advice.
4. Core values
When you think of core training, you might think of sit ups, crunches, the plank. And indeed, these are all great exercises for targeting the abdominal region. But adopting a more ‘full body’ approach using a kettlebell, for example the Turkish Get Up, can give much better results in terms of core stability, strength and, for those keen to get abs, aesthetic results too.
5. The right kettlebell
There’s a huge range of kettlebells out there but, unfortunately, it seems that many have not been designed by people who actually use them. Purchasing the wrong type of kettlebell can result in bruised and damaged wrists and the inability to perform many key exercises. I would advise avoiding kettlebells with very large, very narrow, or coated handles; those that are completely rounded; and those with a rubber base. Click here for more guidance on what to consider when purchasing a kettlebell.