While kettlebell training has been around for quite some time, it's just starting to become mainstream here in the U.S. I receive many inquiries on how to use them—what exercises can be done with them, and how to incorporate them into one's training routine. The great thing about kettlebells is their versatility.
While there are many movements specific to the use of these training tools and their Russian origin, they can be used for much more than that. Bodybuilders, athletes, and general fitness enthusiasts can largely benefit from incorporating kettlebells into their training regimen.
This article will discuss easy and common exercises and training programs incorporating kettlebells—without neglecting any of your other training.
What Are Kettlebells?
A kettlebell is a cast-iron weight that resembles a cannonball with a thick handle. Performing exercises with kettlebells requires a lot of stabilization, strength and mobility.
It makes any exercise harder and more effective, but also makes it safer by keeping the weight close to your body and allowing you to move through a more natural range of motion.
I began using kettlebells in my training about 4 months ago, when I was already well into my prep for NPC Nationals. After explaining my physique and performance goals to my trainer, Dylan Thomas, we mapped out a plan to incorporate this unique piece of equipment into my training regimen.
By adding kettlebells into a training program that also included high volume and basic core lifts, I was able to make significant gains in both size and strength, all while dieting for competition. My physique is the most complete now that it's ever been since I began competing three years ago.
I also greatly improved my aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, allowing me to perform a more polished fitness routine at Nationals.
What Exercises Can I Do With Kettlebells?
Pretty much anything that you can do with a dumbbell or barbell, you can do with kettlebells. Just a few examples include:
- One-Arm Rows
- Shoulder Press
- Bench Press
There are also many traditional kettlebell-specific exercises that, once learned properly, can greatly assist in achieving your fitness goals.
How Can I Add Kettlebells To My Training Program?
You can incorporate kettlebells into your training by using them to perform the exercises listed here. A great way to start would be to substitute 1-2 exercises per body part with kettlebells.
Be creative, and use them to add variety to almost any common free weight or machine exercise. Below are some examples:
|Correlation Between Traditional & Kettlebell Exercises.|
Kettlebell Exercise Demonstrations
Kettlebell Double Row
Kettlebell Front Squat
Kettlebell Incline Bench Press
Kettlebell Pyramid Deadlift
Kettlebell Russian Military Press
Can I Use Kettlebells For Every Exercise?
While this is definitely possible, the weight limitations of kettlebells make some traditional core exercises superior. Squats, deadlifts, military press and bench press are just a few core basic exercises that are known for size and strength gains. Because of this, I would never completely eliminate them from your training program.
Where Can I Buy Kettlebells?
There are a number of online retailers who offer kettlebells. While the initial cost is high, the possibilities are endless when it comes to exercise variety and training protocol, so kettlebells are a great investment. Be sure to pick a kettlebell that has a contoured, slightly rounded handle for ease of movement, and is heavy enough to offer you a challenging resistance workout.
Most women begin with a 26-pound kettlebell, while most men begin with a 35-pound or 53-pound kettlebell. I recommend going with the lighter weight set at first to familiarize yourself with the equipment and exercises. Once you get comfortable with the movement and your strength increases, you can go up to the next heaviest set.
Where Can I Get More Information On Kettlebell Training?
In addition to Bodybuilding.com's excellent kettlebell training articles, you can visit the following websites for more information: