Thanks to the rise of unconventional training practitioners, the masses are slowly beginning to see the full benefits of kettlebell training and the depth of skill and fitness that can be achieved by using them over barbells or dumbbells.
Don't get me wrong, barbells and dumbbells are great strength training tools, but the kettlebell offers some unique features that are hard to fully replicate. Here are some reasons to start incorporating them into your training.
Note: Kettlebell exercises can be extremely technical and movements can be hard to learn. That said; do your research, practice movements without weight, or find a qualified coach to work with before going full speed into kettlebell training.
3 Reasons to Start Using Kettlebells
Reason #1: Cost
A full set of cast iron kettlebells can replace an entire home gym at a fraction of the cost of traditional equipment. In fact, unless you buy competition style bells, you can outfit your home with a full set of kettlebells for under $2,000.
Squat Racks, machines, barbells, dumbbells, benches, etc., can all run up a very large credit card bill.
Reason #2: Versatility and Efficiency
Kettlebells are an incredibly versatile and efficient tool that can be used for building strength, work capacity, and endurance. You can squat with them, carry them, press them, deadlift them, etc., with just a couple heavy bells.
The ability to grab two heavy bells and quickly switch between presses, squats, and deadlifts without switching plates, machines, or weights keep kettlebell workouts short and intense. This reduces the amount of time in the gym, freeing up time for other things in life.
Aside from being able to do almost any exercise with only a couple bells, you can also take them everywhere so the entire world can become your gym. We know lots of guys who like to take a couple heavy bells to the park or on road trips so they can get a great workout no matter where or what they're doing.
Be careful though! People will look at you like a crazy person if you are busting out TGUs at the park with your shirt off.
Reason #3: Increased mobility and Functionality
As far as functional strength training goes: kettlebells are king. Not only do kettlebells help you build incredible strength and endurance; they do so in a way that can mimic natural human movement and real life activity.
When lifting a barbell you often are limited to moving in one plane of motion. With a kettlebell you can move through multiple planes of motion and even incorporate twisting movements into your strength exercises.
In real life movement is dynamic (e.g., picking up and twisting with heavy kids) and kettlebells can add an element that can help you lower your risk of injury during those activities by training those patterns during your workouts.
The greater range of motion can also help improve joint mobility and strength from all angles. For example: windmills not only build hinging strength for picking up objects from dynamic angles, they also help build mobility through the pelvis and lower part of the spine.
Conclusion: Kettlebells are an incredible training implement and we've only scratched the surface here.
Kettlebells are very cost effective, efficient, and great for building real life strength and mobility. Dumbbells and barbells are obviously great for strength training, but often have limitations in the way and angles that you can use them.
With a kettlebell you can do all of the exercises you can do with those other implements and then some. Check out this video by Jim Smith from Animal Ability demonstrating some of the benefits and uses described above.
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