Originally from Russia, the kettlebell or ‘girya’ is a cast-iron weight, resembling a cannonball with a handle. Ranging in weight from 4kg to over 60kg, kettlebells engage multiple muscle groups at once and are a great way to get a whole body workout.
The functional and dynamic moves using kettlebells help improve strength, conditioning and muscle tone of the whole body, because lifting and controlling a kettlebell forces the entire body, and specifically the core, to contract as a group, building both strength and stability at the same time.
A kettlebell workout can also provide a hardcore cardiovascular workout, getting heart rates up and using up a phenomenal number of calories: A well-conditioned individual can burn up to 1,500 calories an hour, compared to approximately 600 by running on a treadmill.
Several years ago, a back injury sidelined me from a very big competition. I went from being one of the top powerlifters in the world to not being able to walk for nearly two weeks. I attribute winning the 2005 WPO-SHW Championship to training with kettlebells."
Professional powerlifter, World Powerlifting Organization
Personal instruction is vital, particularly when starting kettlebell training. Because kettlebell lifts are more subtle than traditional weight training exercises, it takes coordination and kinaesthetic (body) awareness to perfect the moves. A single exercise consists of multiple joints and muscle groups moving simultaneously, often in ways that are new and unfamiliar to most people. The movements are different than traditional strength exercises, and so they take practice – and professional attention from a certified kettlebell trainer – to master. The biggest mistake beginners make is lifting too heavy a kettlebell before they can control it. This can result in serious injuries to the joints, and especially the neck, back and spine.