You see those cast-iron balls with a handle at every group fitness class and sporting goods store. No wonder these heavy wonders have stuck around since the 1700s.
"Kettlebells can be a great way to make your strength-training program more efficient and help you develop more power for your recreational sports and activities," said Lisa Milbrandt, University of Wisconsin Health Fitness Center supervisor, in a release. "And adding strength work to your exercise program can offer many benefits, including improvement in bone density, weight management through improved metabolism, prevention of muscle loss and increased ease of daily activities."
Because kettlebell lifts are typically performed in a swinging motion, you get more of a cardiovascular workout — perfect for someone who wants to tone and lose weight simultaneously.
If you’re just starting out, the American Council on Exercise recommends choosing lighter-weight kettlebells (8 pounds to 15 pounds for women; 15 pounds to 25 pounds for men) and focusing on developing correct technique. Then, ACE said, as you become stronger and more skilled, add reps and shorten your recovery time between sets. If you still need a greater challenge, only then should you increase the weight of the kettlebell you’re using.
Kettlebells vs. dumbbells
While traditional weights are all about low reps and more weight, kettlebell-specific exercises are designed for higher, faster repetitions performed for a minute or more, according to a Men’s Health article. So if you're looking to simply gain muscle, use dumbbells. If you're looking to gain power endurance, burn fat and build muscle, start swinging that kettlebell.
The key to unlocking the power of the kettlebell is to use it differently than you would traditional weights, explained Jason Brown, owner of Kettlebell Athletics in Philadelphia, in the Men's Health article.
Ready to kickstart your kettlebell training? Check out Bodybuilding.com’s extensive kettlebell exercise video library. You can search by specific muscle groups.