What are kettlebells, and are they safe? In 18th century Russia, a “kettlebell”, called a Pood”, was mentioned in numerous early documents. It was commonly used as a weight for weighing grain and other crops. Bored farmers could toss this 36.11 lbs (16.38 kg) weight around at the marketplace. Competitive kettlebell-lifting dates back to 1885.
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Many cultures around the globe have used these as a strength tool or a weight – from Shaolin monks in China to Highland Game athletes in Scotland. At times they were called “ring-handled weights” or “stone padlocks”.
Sometime around the turn of the nineteenth century, Vladislav Krayevsky, the personal physician of the Russian czar, popularized kettlebell training in the Russian army.
In the late 19th century, they were used for competition and recreation in Russia and Europe.
In Germany, England, and Greece
Many German training manuals and diaries from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries featured weights like the kettlebell.
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, a German physical educator, created a gymnastic system. Old photographs show his students using kettlebells.
In England, the term kettlebell was used since the early 20th century. Greece also used similar weights compared to the modern kettlebell.
Why Did the Kettlebell Suddenly Explode into a Fitness Tool in 21st Century America?
During the late 1800s circus strongmen came to America, and sometimes settled there. They opened gyms and introduced kettlebells.
In the late 1990s, Pavel Tsatsouline, from the Soviet Union, made kettlebells popular in the United States. Around the year 2001, Pavel started the Russian Kettlebell Challenge. His marketing genius is what started the kettlebell fitness phenomenon that is with us today.
Are Kettlebells Safe?
Kettlebells, like any other piece of fitness equipment, must be treated with respect and great care.
Anyone who starts kettlebell training needs to follow the kettlebell journey step-by-step, they need to earn their rites of passaage, there are no shortcuts.Taco Fleur
Over time, kettlebells became a fitness tool. Today, they are made from cast iron or cast steel and are covered with colorful vinyl. They have a handle on top made of a comfortable vinyl or rubber grip.
Using a lighter-weight kettlebell allows you to work on perfecting your technique and form. As you become more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the weight of the kettlebell.
Exercises Using a Kettlebell
The word ballistic comes from the Greek word, meaning “to throw”. It is a form of training that involves throwing weights and jumping with weights. Ballistic training requires the muscles to produce the greatest amount of force in the shortest time possible.
The kettlebell provides these types of fitness.
- Kettlebell weightlifting – Kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.
- Partly aerobic and partly like HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
Parts of the Kettlebell
If you grab a kettlebell and immediately begin doing snatches, you will get injured. It is just like training in any other sport. You can’t go from the bleachers to the football field or hockey rink without training and practice.
Progression is the key. Step-by-step you learn the conventional double-arm swing. Work your way up to the single-arm swing, cleans, presses, and more.
Start out slowly to build muscle endurance, train, support your joints, and prevent injury. If done correctly, kettlebells are an effective weight that will build muscle strength.
There are many types of kettlebell exercises you can do.
This is the way one coach approaches it.
- Assisted single-arm clean
- Bodyweight Squat
- Bodyweight Hip Hinge
- Kettlebell Hang Lift
- Kettlebell Dead Lift
- Dead Clean
- Conventional two-arm swing
- Two-arm clean
- Single-arm swing
- Single-arm swing clean
- Front squat
- Bent-over rows
- Strict press
- Push press
- Turkish get-up
The kettlebell swing, (also known as the double-arm swing, conventional kettlebell swing, or the Russian swing), is basically a ballistic exercise.”
Use kettlebells correctly to avoid injury. Have a certified personal trainer show you the proper technique. Look for personal trainers at your local gym or fitness center.
- Learn the feel of the kettlebell, and how it responds in your hands as you move it about.
- Start with lighter weights.
- Begin slowly.
- Breathe normally when exerting yourself.
- STOP immediately if you feel sudden or sharp pain during your workout!
We have discussed what kettlebells are, and if they are safe.
Kettlebells come in many weights. Begin with lighter weights and build up to heavier weights as you advance. Watch the video above and choose the safest exercises for your routine.
Kettlebells take up very little space, and you can get a total body workout with a single kettlebell. Begin slowly, and have a certified personal trainer teach you the proper and safe techniques for using the right sized kettlebell for you.
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I would love to hear from you! Do you use kettlebells in your workouts? What is your experience using them?
Disclaimer: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.