The Fitness Zone
The last five years has seen Kettlebell training boom in popularity within Australia. These strange ‘bowling balls’ with handles are in every gym and bootcamp and feature prominently in many people’s training.
So what is exactly is a kettlebell and why are they so popular and effective? While it may be easy to mistake the kettlebell as a fad, this is far from the truth. This piece of equipment has been used for hundreds of years; we were just slow to adopt it in the West. Kettlebell training originated in Eastern Europe and was commonly used among the armed forces and athletes.
The kettlebell is commonly made from cast iron or steel. The design of the kettlebell is the major differentiating feature with the load being ‘off centre’. It allows for more ballistic based movements such as swings, cleans and snatches to be performed. This differs from many other strength training modalities such as using dumbbells.
Why kettlebell training is effective
Kettlebell training enables you to develop strength, flexibility and cardio fitness simultaneously. It is incredible for developing core control, balance, coordination and stability, while blasting fat and improving muscle tone and definition.
You can have a super effective workout in a short space of time and the portability makes it appealing, as you can literally train anywhere. Many of the exercises train major muscle groups and are multi-joint, meaning you can train the whole body with ease. It makes a nice change to traditional strength training and the skill required makes it engaging.
How to use your kettlebell
You can use the kettlebell in a multitude of ways. You can have workouts that use the kettlebell with other pieces of equipment, in combination with bodyweight exercises or kettlebell only sessions.
There are hundreds of different exercises that are appropriate for all fitness levels and abilities. There are exercises that incorporate various muscles, but one of the main features of kettlebell training is the emphasis on the posterior chain group (hamstrings, glutes & lower back). These are areas that are commonly weak in the general population and the kettlebell is the perfect remedy.
The length of the exercise sessions should not exceed 45 minutes due to the intensity. Maintaining correct form is the most important element and this should not be compromised at any point. It is recommended that you seek professional instruction to minimise the risk of injuries and gain the most from this amazing tool.
A great all over body workout is shown below. There is a great balance between upper and lower body exercises that cover both the anterior and posterior of the body.
The program is as follows:
1. 15 x kettlebell swings
2. 10 x rows each arm
3. 10 x kettlebell rack squats
4. 10 x kettlebell presses
5. 10 halos (5 in each direction)
Repeat this loop 4-6 times, depending on your fitness and conditioning. It is recommended that females start with an 8kg bell and males with a 12kg bell.
For more information on the Australian Institute of Kettlebells, visit https://fitness.edu.au/the-fitness-zone/industry-partners/kettlebell-course/