What Are Kettlebells?

Picture if you will behind the iron curtain in the cold lands of Russia ,men with the will of iron and the spirit of a bear training for power and size to compete in all sorts of competitions such as the Olympics and certain power lifting contests. Many wonder why the Russians were so powerful during such displays of strength at these contests. Steroids, well, that might have some baring but overall there was one secret that they use one piece of equipment that was kept pretty much behind the iron curtain until the fall of communism and that secret is Kettlebells. What are Kettlebells you ask well picture a cannonball with a handle and you’ve got an idea what a Kettlebell looks like. Called the iron purse by some Kettlebells are the perfect tool for building size, shedding unwanted body fat and increasing serious muscular strength. Dating back all the way to the early 18th century, Kettlbells have been a mainstay amongst the elite power men of Russia as the ultimate tool for serious and sometimes scary strength. In fact they were so popular in Tsarist Russia that men who were power lifters or weightlifters were referred as a girevik or a Kettlebell

Who has trained with Kettlebells? Many Russian power men have trained such as Ivan Podunk a wrestler and strongman who used Kettlebells during his undefeated wrestling career. Peter Krylov was also known to use Kettlebells for his scary strength feats which included a specially made barbell which had hollow spheres at the ends for which 2 heavily built soldiers were placed. Peter then housed the unique barbell with the 2 soldiers in the spheres over his head. It still is considered one of the most impressive feats of strength of all time and Krylov owes all of his amazing strength to Kettlebells. There have also been many Russian Olympic weightlifters such as Vorobyev, Vlasov, and Stogov who contributed their strength during their Olympic run from Kettlebells.

Thanks to Pavel Tsatsouline, Kettlebells have become the ultimate tool for increasing strength, blasting body fat and building muscle mass here in the states. Branches of the armed forces are using Kettlebells as we speak to help their soldiers to increase their stamina, endurance, speed and strength. Bodybuilders are using Kettlebells to help sculpt that perfect body they always wanted and power lifters are finding out that Kettbells are helping them increase their strength and lifts.  Even law enforcement have gotten on the Kettbell bandwagon using them to help their law enforcers with overall strength and endurance.

Kettlebells come in poods an old Russian measure of weight which equals 16kg or 35lbs.They come in several weights 26lbs,35lbs,44lbs,53lbs,62lbs,70lbs,88lbs,and the ultimate behemoth 106lbs.Only a small handful of people can perform certain lifts with the 106 pounder that in itself takes some damn serious power.  For those using Kettlebells for the first time I would start off at 35lbs.Sounds like a wimpy weight but trust me it’s heavier then it looks.  Plus you want to start off with a smaller weight to get the feel of Kettlebells and to use them properly because Kettlebells are a serious piece of exercise equipment.  Improper use of the Kettlebells(much like improper use of other exercise equipment)can result in some serious injuries.  I also suggest getting Pavel’s “The Russian Kettlebell Challenge” as a starting off point to not only use the Kettlebells correctly but Pavel also gets you off on the road to a better body with some strength to go along with it.


Kettlebells are probably the best pieces of equipment around for shedding that unsightly body fat from your body.It melts fat without the dishonor of dieting or exercise(although changing your diet will increase the body fat melting effects of Kettleblls extremely well).If you are overweight you will lean out big time, if you are skinny you will bulk up with some serious muscle.  Studies done of Russian Kettlebell users report a 21.2% increase of bodyweight since using Kettlebells and 21.2% decrease of body fat as well.  I personally use Kettbells to shed fat and build muscle and I must say it works as well as people have said.  Got my six pack of abs which was being covered by ugly belly fat and built some nice quality muscle utilizing Kettleblls in my weightlifting program.  Kettlebells are indeed great for overall body comp.

Other factors in which Kettlebells are good for:

The kettlebell is the ultimate in conditioning the body for extreme decelerations. Think of all the sudden stops and direction changes on the football field. If you have not conditioned yourself to handle these forces, you will perform sub-par and run a high risk of injury. Traditional strength training, even the Olympic 'quick lifts', does not address this issue as the weight is either dropped or treated to a slow negative. As Brett Jones, RKC Sr. put it, "You cannot swing a barbell between your legs." You could try it with a dumbbell -at least until the sheer width of it takes your knees out. The compact kettlebell can be dropped from the lockout between your knees and way behind you where it will impact load your hips.

kettlebellsThis dynamic loading sets up the hip muscles for a powerful contraction. The kettlebell is the definitive tool for developing the hip thrust, the power generator in all athletics. Be it a jump, a kick, or a punch, when expertly performed, it comes from the hip.
kettlebells The kettlebell will make your back resilient. Unique Russian exercises condition your back from every conceivable angle, statically and dynamically. One would have to take up powerlifting, yoga, strongman, gymnastics, and a couple of other things to half way imitate the benefits of kettlebell training.
kettlebells Kettlebell's offset center of gravity maximizes shoulder strength, flexibility, and health. Most Russians have never heard of 'rotator cuffs.' Save for combat wounds, shoulder injuries are virtually unheard in the Russian armed forces. They train and test their personnel with repetition one-arm snatches with a 53 lb. kettlebell rather than pushups.
kettlebells The kettlebell is an outstanding grip, wrist, and forearm developer. A thick and smooth handle combined with the ballistic nature of many exercises loads the grip like rock climbing. Bottom up cleans and similar leverage drills unique to kettlebells take care of the wrists.
kettlebells The position of the handle allows dynamic passing of the kettlebell from hand to hand for a great variety of powerful juggling type exercises strongly endorsed by the Russian Federation State Committee on Physical Culture. These drills develop dynamic strength and injury-proof the body in many planes unlike conventional linear exercise.
kettlebells The kettlebell will give you infinite freedom of lifting. It has been said that kettlebells to traditional free weights are what barbells and dumbells are to machines. Taming a kettlebell is akin to medieval sword, spear, and battleaxe play, liberating and aggressive.
kettlebells The Russian kettlebell is a complete, no-compromise, extreme hand held gym. "We train with kettlebells in case civilization is temporary," stated the Philadelphia Kettlebell Club, "…don't rely on anything you can't carry."

Overall Kettlebells have become a serious piece of equipment in which power lifters, bodybuilders, the military, law enforcement and others are using to help build the perfect body, to help increase strength, to shed ugly body fat and to increase overall endurance.  There are even Kettlebell classes and gyms popping up all across the US and other countries.

Part 2 of Kettlebells will becoming soon so stay tuned.


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May 07, 2006

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