Kettlebells are one of the most universal tools that build strength, endurance, mobility, power, rehab injuries, and anything else you can possibly think of. Not only are these tools universal for training, but they are easy to use anywhere. These cast iron bells have made a huge impact in the fitness industry. Being able to utilize a single tool with so many different purposes has given it the name Swiss Army Knife of Fitness.
Strength- Kettlebells have been known for the “What the Hell Effect” which is phrase used after using kettlebells for some time and seeing the carry over to other exercises. The strength that can be built with using kettlebells can carry over to barbell lifts, bodyweight exercises, strongman lifts, and sandbag exercises. For example, I have taken away all barbell exercises for 10 months now and have just focused on kettlebells and natural movement, to retest some strength I went and did 315lbs for 10 repetitions on a back squat (https://www.instagram.com/p/BLhWRf7FHbl/?taken-by=restoredstrength ). Kettlebells may not seem sexy like a barbell with 10 plates, but they build the same amount of strength.
Endurance- Swings, that’s all you need to know about endurance training with kettlebells, well there are other awesome exercises, but mainly the swing is the trick here. Being able to produce high volume swings with minimum rest is the bread and butter of endurance training with kettlebells. A popular method used when training endurance work with kettlebells is the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) method, this allows for high intensity work with a short amount of recovery. Kettlebells have proven themselves worthy overtime as to how swinging the cast iron can improve your endurance by cutting seconds to minutes off run times.
Mobility- “If you are tight you are weak” is a statement made by Pavel Tsatsouline, this statement holds true to the idea that restricted ranges of motion prevent optimal use of strength. Kettlebells have this unique way of helping us fight this ugly disease of immobility and tight muscles. One of my favorite exercises is the halo that assists with thoracic mobility, but then also using the side bent sit position with a kettlebell to open up the hips. Mobility work and kettlebells go hand in hand by providing the user with a tool of strength with new found ranges of motion.
Power- The ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements is defined as power. Using exercises like the swing or the snatch, kettlebells have the ability to build a large amount of power. The amount of tension, speed, and force needed to complete a swing or a snatch is very high, thus carrying over into the production of power. Kettlebell exercises have been known to carry over in aiding athletes to improve their performance in their sports by increasing their power output.
Rehab- Seriously what can’t these things do? If you were to look up “Kettlebells and back pain” you be flooded with information on google, this is because kettlebells when used correctly can fix lower back pain. The kettlebell arm bar has been shown to improve strength and stability in the rotator cuff which is a commonly injured muscle, using this exercise can be used as injury prevention. Lastly kettlebells have been proven to fix glute amnesia which is the inability to activate your glutes, which can lead to lower back pain.
Putting Your Swiss Army Knife to Use- Now that you have a better understanding as to how many different ways you can use your kettlebell, it’s time to put it to use. Each category can be used to your advantage when training. It’s simply up to you as to where you want to put each category and how it will fit into your goals. I have provided a sample program of implementing each category into a sample day-one program. This is just an example as to how you can use kettlebells. The first colored box is to have the exercises paired together, and repeating with each paired set. Hopefully this can help you to start using more kettlebell exercises in your training!