What Do Kettlebells Do to Your Body?
Resistance training has never been hotter.
Fitness enthusiasts of all ages, genders and experience levels now enjoy the proven physical and mental benefits of lifting heavy things.
Kettlebells are one of the best strength training tools money can buy.
Largely popularized by fitness influencers like Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss, you can now spot kettlebells in the routines of everyone from NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler to swimsuit model Kate Upton.
Consistent training with kettlebells can do amazing things for the human body.
Kettlebells Build Strength and Muscle
Humans have used kettlebells to build strength for hundreds of years.
Their unique design — akin to a cannon ball with a handle attached to it — makes it excellent for a wide variety of strength training exercises.
A kettlebell can be aggressively pressed, pulled, carried, thrown and swung, allowing us to improve our strength in various planes of motion and target nearly every muscle in the human body.
There are two key ways kettlebells can build strength.
One, they can enhance the connection between our brain/nervous system and our muscles. This allows us to activate our muscles more intensely and with superior coordination.
Two, they can help us experience “hypertrophy” or an increase in muscle mass. When we stress our bodies via resistance training, our muscles respond by creating additional muscle fibers. This helps us increase our muscle tone and produce more force.
These changes don’t occur in a vacuum.
Improvements in strength have been connected with favorable health outcomes such as improved cardiovascular health, reduced abdominal fat, better blood sugar control, reduced risk of injury, improved mental health, more brainpower, better flexibility/mobility and balance, and a longer overall lifespan.
Kettlebells Build Power
Power refers to our ability to express strength quickly.
While an impressive vertical leap is an awesome display of power, grinding out a slow barbell max is primarily about raw strength.
Ultimately, power may be most important to our quality of life.
Muscular power naturally declines with age at a faster rate than other muscle-related functions (such as strength). It’s why many individuals find it difficult to get out of a chair or climb a flight of stairs as they get older.
The design of the kettlebell makes it an amazing tool for building power. Exercises like the Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Snatch, Kettlebell Push-Press and Kettlebell Weighted Jump are especially relevant for power development.
For those worried less about age-related physical decline and more about current athletic performance, those exact same moves can help you elevate for a slam dunk, run over a linebacker, or find that extra gear during your next trail run.
Kettlebells Build Balance and Coordination
Balance refers to the ability to stay upright or in control of body movement.
Coordination refers to the ability to move two or more body parts with efficiency, control and precision.
If you lack either, both your athletic performance and quality of life will suffer.
While any type of resistance training is likely to help your balance and coordination, the unique design of kettlebells and the unique nature of many popular kettlebell movements makes them particularly effective in this regard.
Unlike a dumbbell or barbell, a kettlebell’s center of mass is concentrated in the ball rather than the handle. This puts additional demand on your stabilizer muscles and ensures no two reps are ever quite the same.
Check out the Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up if you want a move that builds balance, coordination and full-body fitness. Successful execution requires you to move multiple limbs in unison while exhibiting super mobility, stability, core strength and focus.
Kettlebells Torch Fat
The kettlebell’s a great tool for fat burning.
Exercises such as the Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Snatch, and Kettlebell Clean and Press all burn a high volume of calories.
The implement’s design can help you increase your work density (the amount of work you do in a given time) compared to a barbell — a clear advantage when it comes to burning calories.
A study by the American Council on Exercise found that a workout oriented around Kettlebell Snatches led participants to burn an impressive 20 calories per minute. That’s 400 calories for a 20-minute workout!
“Overall, kettlebell use can produce remarkable results, which is what virtually all fitness enthusiasts look to get from their workouts,” ACE Chief Science Officer Dr. Cedric X. Bryant said in a release.
“A person can easily burn several hundred calories in a brief period of time using these iron orbs, which makes them appealing to those looking for time-efficient results … Kettlebells not only offer resistance training benefits, they also will ultimately help people burn calories, lose weight, and enhance their functional performance capabilities.”
Kettlebells Build Cardiovascular Fitness
Cardiovascular fitness refers to your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to your working muscles during sustained physical activity. Factors like your heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, maximal oxygen consumption, and hemoglobin levels all impact your cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance.
In real-life training applications, a kettlebell’s rarely as heavy as a loaded barbell.
The design also allows for smooth transition between one rep and the next. Such features help make kettlebells excellent for circuit or high-intensity interval training protocols.
In other words — kettlebells conveniently allow us to conveniently keep training even while we’re fatigued!
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found a 20-minute workout that alternated 15-second periods of Kettlebell Snatches with 15-second rests helped female collegiate soccer players significantly enhance their aerobic capacity (or VO2 max).
Kettlebells Help Bulletproof Body Against Injury
No form of training can 100% guard against injury.
Yet kettlebells do have an impressive way of helping individuals stay both strong and healthy.
The low back and the shoulder are two of the most common sites of injury in modern humans.
Done correctly, moves like the Kettlebell Swing help strengthen our hip and spine extensors in a way that can help alleviate or prevent low back issues.
Meanwhile, moves like the Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press and Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up are awesome tools for enhancing shoulder strength, stability and mobility.
Kettlebells can be especially useful for those who desire a convenient, affordable form of resistance training.
Runners, for example, may not be interested in paying a full gym membership and lifting heavily-loaded barbells.
But by purchasing just one or two appropriately-weighted kettlebells for home use and performing moves like Kettlebell Split Squats and Kettlebell SLDLs, they can both enhance their performance and reduce their risk of running-related injury.
The Kettlebell Physique
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and no two bodies respond exactly the same to a given training regimen.
Diet is also the predominant driver of physiological changes such as fat loss, muscle gain, etc.
Having said that, kettlebells are an awesome way to build a lean, athletic physique.
Generally speaking, the average kettlebell workout will have more of a cardiovascular element than the average barbell workout. Yet it will also build more muscle than the average aerobics or spin class.
If you want to get bodybuilder big, doing kettlebell training in isolation probably isn’t the best approach.
However, if you want to achieve that toned, defined physique so many of us are after, kettlebell training can be an amazing option.
Kettlebell training also works extremely well as a complement to other forms of training.
Kettlebells: Your Tool for a Better Body
Kettlebell master Pavel Tsatsouline calls the kettlebell “an ancient Russian weapon against weakness.”
We’re inclined to agree.
Kettlebells can help make your body stronger, more muscular, leaner, more powerful, better conditioned, better coordinated and more resilient.
Some of their associated benefits apply to most forms of resistance training, but others are more specific to kettlebells.
As far as resistance training tools go, it’s hard to beat the overall practicality of a medium-weight kettlebell.
HulkFit’s Enamel-Coated Cast Iron Kettlebells run from five pounds all the way up to 50.
They feature an extra-wide handle to allow for confident execution of the full arsenal of kettlebell training exercises.
Made of high quality solid cast iron and dipped in a durable enamel to deliver maximum comfort and durability, HulkFit Kettlebells will be a staple in your fitness routine for years to come.