Why Kettlebells are such a great exercise tool!
What is a Kettlebell
And while it looks cool, there are many reasons to get started introducing this tool into your exercise program.
The Kettlebell can be grasped by the handle, the horns, or its end, the bell. Most exercises are done using the handle, but exercises like Goblet Squats are more efficient using the horns.
This design is what makes kettlebells unique. Unlike a dumbbell, in which a handle connects two evenly-weighted bells and lies level in the center between them, a kettlebell’s center of gravity is offset from its handle—it rests several inches away.
The Kettlebell looks like a "heavy tea kettle", which comprises a bell, handle, and horns. The bell itself is a round, cannonball shaped weight. The handle connects to the kettlebell by sloping downward at each end, called the horns.
A black cannonball with a cast-iron handle, no other training tool can match its old-school, back-to-basics appeal.
Research on the Benefits of Kettlebells
A 2013 study conducted at the The University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse examined the effects of kettlebell training on healthy male and female volunteers, ages 19 to 25—all of whom were experienced in strength training.
Method: The subjects had their strength, aerobic capacity, and balance tested with conventional exercises first and then spent eight weeks training with kettlebells, performing lifts that included swings, snatches, cleans, and presses. Afterward, the same battery of conventional lifts were used to measure progress.
Results: The subjects’ strength improved in the leg press by 14.8%, but core strength in particular jumped 70%. Grip strength also improved by 9%. Aerobic capacity increased 13.8%. The participants’ ability to balance also improved significantly, which the researchers cited as being especially valuable to older adults who take up strength training.
The History of Kettlebells
Kettlebells, as known in modern times, were developed in Russia in the 1700s, primarily for weighing crops. It is said that the farmers who used these kettlebells became stronger and found them useful for showing off their strength during festivals. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century. They had been used for competition and sports throughout Russia and Europe since the 1940s.
The kettlebell was used not only to develop strength and ability. Circus strongmen appeared in the circus companies. They lifted enormous weights, juggled skillfully.
It is worth knowing that similar strength tools resembling kettlebells were used long before the 18th century. For instance, invented in 5th century B.C. Greece, one weighted implement called the haltere was similar to the modern kettlebell in terms of movements. Furthermore, similar variations had been developed by many societies, including Shaolin monks in China, with names such as "stone padlock". - Courtesy of Wikipedia
Hardstyle Kettlebell Training
Hardstyle is the style of Kettlebell training popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline, who brought Kettlebells originally to the US. It’s the way that is today taught in the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certification) school and in StrongFirst.
This style can be summarized by high intensity and few repetitions. Power optimization is the key rather than power conservation. Each rep should look just as powerful no matter if it is 12kg or 48kg. This style focuses on a balance between high tension and relaxation.
Tense the muscles. Because muscles produce force by tensing. Maximize the tension.
Tense the joints. Because a loose joint absorbs the force meant to go elsewhere; it “leaks” power and is easily injured.
Focus on breath and a strong core. Because pressure from the core increases strength.
Move from the ground. To maximize stability and to take advantage of the reactive forces.
Hardstyle Kettlebell training is the practice of the total compression skill. Strong First
teaches how to focus the scattered energies of the body into a directed all-out effort while minimizing the odds of injuries.
Originally, “hard style” referred to martial arts like Karate which concentrated total body muscle tension into one extraordinary effort—“one punch, one kill”. When Pavel Tsatsouline served in the Soviet Special Forces, his unit was among those who had adopted a Karate-based style of hand-to-hand combat. The hardstyle of kettlebell training was born to support this hard style of fighting.
Determined to take the skill of strength as far as possible, Pavel researched every possible venue that could be of help, ranging from reading obscure neuroscience papers and old Soviet bio-mechanics texts, to picking the brains of gymnastics, power-lifting, and arm-wrestling elite.
Power-lifting coach Louie Simmons has said it best: “Pavel has reverse engineered what the strongest athletes do naturally.” This is Hardstyle.
It boils down to reverse-engineering the techniques that the masters do unconsciously, then compiling and explaining those techniques in plain language. Such techniques include: compound movements, appropriate timing of body tension, power breathing, not training to failure or exhaustion, strength as practice, doing fewer things better, etc.
What will hardstyle kettlebells do for you?
If you have been around the block, the hardstyle techniques will noticeably and immediately improve your strength in pull-ups, pistol squats, kettlebell military presses, one-arm push-ups, handstand push-ups, and a variety of killer abdominal drills.
If you are new to strength, you will learn how to do these lifts right or, if you have a long way to go, get a clear set of individualized instructions for mastering them.
How to learn more
Any of Pavel’s books will introduce you to his hardstyle methods. Most notable in this regard are Simple and Sinister, Power to the People and Naked Warrior.
If you want to learn and master the hardstyle technique, go to www.strongfirst.com, search for an instructor in your area, and let them help you get started on one of the most efficient ways to improve overall strength, mobility, stability, endurance, and ability to be ready for any physical challenge you may encounter.