All About the Kettlebell
FizzUp’s Kettlebell Challenge brings you a variety of exercises to let you discover all the ways you can use it. Get to know this piece of muscle-building equipment that will help make your body goals a reality.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A KETTLEBELL?
A kettlebell is a metal ball with a flat base and a curved handle. It hails from Russia, where it was traditionally used as a counterweight in shipyards and markets, and is a staple in the fitness world. Since the 18th century, it has also been used as workout equipment and to show off athletic skill.
Today, it’s more commonly used in the world of fitness training.
WHY USE A KETTLEBELL?
A kettlebell helps you build strength, power and endurance, whether an average person you’re working out at home or a world-class athlete. It’s also a competitive sport known around the world as kettlebell lifting that shows off your strength and endurance by having you do various exercises according to a set of rules.
A kettlebell is used to boost a range of athletic skills. It improves your work capacity by enabling you to take on heavier loads without needing more time to rest between sets.
The idea is to hold one or two kettlebells as you do a variety of “traditional” exercises such as the squat or “ballistic” exercises such as the swing (depending on your goal), like you would with a pair of dumbbells or a barbell. Although, you’re sure to have noticed that kettlebells have quite a different shape and this has an impact on how its weight is distributed in relation to the handle:
- With a dumbbell, the center of gravity is in your hand and the weight is perfectly balanced.
- With a kettlebell, the center of gravity is far from the center. You have to have use more strength to keep the weight balanced.
This means that gravity’s impact changes depending on how you hold and move the kettlebell. That’s also why it’s much more difficult to handle than dumbbells, besides its thicker handle that makes it hard to fully grasp. Because most of its mass is located away from your hand and torso, your body has to exert more strength in order to move the kettlebell in the beginning and slow it down in the end than with a dumbbell or another balanced weight. The further an object’s mass is from the fulcrum, the more momentum it will have. That’s the simple law of the lever and gravitational acceleration in action because it works like a pendulum.
The takeaway: Compared to dumbbells, it takes much more strength to hold, move and balance a kettlebell than it does for the same amount of mass.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR KETTLEBELL WEIGHT
You’ll need a range of kettlebell weight depending on the exercise you’re doing. Kettlebells come in increments ranging from 5 lb (1 kg) to over 150 lb (70 kg)! The kettlebell has to be heavy enough to be a challenge for you without pushing you to technical muscle failure, but light enough so that you can perfect your technique. We recommend the following weight ranges depending on your fitness level and exercise you’re doing:
- For beginners: <10 to 22 lb (5 kg to 10 kg)
- For people who have already trained with a kettlebell: 22 to 44 lb (10 to 20 kg)
- For people who have significant experience training with a kettlebell: >44 lb (20 kg)
TRADITIONAL KETTLEBELL EXERCISES
Although you’ve probably already tried most of these exercises with dumbbells, you should first master them with a kettlebell before you move on to ballistic exercises.
- Exercise examples using one or two kettlebells: deadlift, squat, windmill, bench press, thrusters row, Turkish get up, bicep curl and the halo.
BALLISTIC KETTLEBELL EXERCISES
For these explosive exercises, you use the strength in your legs to move around the weight. The kettlebell has to reach zero gravity at the “climax” of the exercise.
Remember: If it’s too light, thrusting your hips forward won’t make much of a difference. If it’s too heavy, thrusting your hips forward won’t be enough to get it moving like it should.
- Exercise examples using one or two kettlebells: kettlebell swing/alternating kettlebell swing/unilateral kettlebell swing, high-pull, kettlebell clean, push press and the Russian twist.
A kettlebell suits most people’s goals to get fit or sculpt their body and comes with a multitude of benefits. You can reply on the kettlebell to help you build muscle or lose weight. Get kettlebells exercises now in your FizzUp app and use this tool to revolutionize the way you work out.