Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kettlebells: A better way to work out

A Russian strongman w/ kettlebell
A Russian strongman w/ kettlebell
The Gold's Gym I used to work out at in California employed a super-friendly trainer named Pam. Pam was a spark plug. She was in her early 40's, worked full time. managing a local business. She had three kids between 15 and 21. Her husband, who worked  IT support at Amgen, had just recently left her.

So, I being single at the time, I became friendly with her. And one day, I spotted her working out with with these odd weights that looked to me like cannonballs. So, I asked her about them.

She graciously took her time, and explained to me that they were called kettlebells, and originated in Russia -- though the Ottoman Turks used similar exercise systems as well. Russian exercise guru Pavel Tsatsouline brought the kettlebell craze to the West with his classic book on kettlebessl,  Enter The Kettlebell! Strength Secret of The Soviet Supermen

Like so much in fitness, Pavel was a bit of hype. He claimed it was the fasted way to strength and power. But much of that could have been fluffery. He is, after all, a marketer...

Well, it turns out that the American Council of Exercise and the University of Wisconsin (Go Big Ten!) teamed up and did a study on a kettlebell exercise routine. And they found that Pavel was, in essence, correct.

You can get twice the results in half the time using kettlebells.

Researchers found that the routines increased both a person's strength and the heart rate significantly. If performed vigorous enough, kettlebells provide cardio exercise while increasing your stenght. Talk about a lot of bang for the buck!

In fact, the single-arm swing, one of the basic exercises in any ketllebell routine,can be as beneficial as running at a six-minute mile pace -- a pace that most of us can only dream of, since six-minutes is where elite runners train.

I have been working out nearly exclusively with kettlebells and a TRX-Style suspension trainer -- the rip:60 Home Gym -- for about a year now. Though I have lost some bulk in my chest, I am overall much stronger than I was. And the nice thing is that my equipment takes up almost no room, and gets me quite "winded." A good thing when you're stuck inside like I am during an endless winter in Cleveland.

I am sold. Hopefully, you will be as well. At the very least, it will add some variety to your workouts....

I stumbled across some real neat free kettlebell routines from the nice folks at Fitness Blender. It seems to me that their routines are every bit as good as the routines Pam had me do. And, if you follow the instructions, every bit as safe.

I should warn you, though -- kettlebells are grueling. They really tax you. Make sure that you keep your back and shoulders inline, or you will hurt yourself. It is advisable to seek out a trainer certified by either the World Kettlebell Club (WKC) , American Kettlebell Club (AKC) or the best of the lot -- the Russian Kettlebell Club (RKC) offered by Pavel Tsatsouline's Dragon Door.

Fitness Blender's Beginner Routine

Not a bad routine. It may seem a little slow, especially if you are a male, like me, who thinks he is stronger than he really is... =)

According to ACE... 
  • Men should start with a 25, 30 or 35 lb kettlebell, depending on fitness level
  • Women should start with a 15, 20 or 30 lb kettlebell, depending on fitness level
  • Move up slowly. These are truly difficult, full body motions.
  • I will post more workouts as I get around to them -- some from Fitness Blends, some from other places.


  1. This blog is so perfect for me now for I really want to lose my fat using how to use a kettlebell. I truly believe that by using this piece of equipment would help me achieve my goal in the very near future!