In this episode we will be talking about kettlebells and particularly the Russian style of training with them. Because they are the whole reason I got so into training and why I became a coach.
If you don’t know what a kettlebell is, that’s totally ok. They are essentially a cast iron ball with a handle that comes in a bunch of different weights.
There are a lot of different types of kettlebells out there these days. From competition bells to your classic cast iron bell to ones that look like monkey heads.
I reckon that the best kettlebell is the classic cast iron one.
Kettlebells have a long history. When the first kettlebell was created is debatable as there have been kettlebell like artefacts found throughout history in places such as imperial China, the Scottish highlands and even as far back as classical Greece.
But, if we keep it to slightly more modern times, kettlebells are said to have become popular as a training tool with Russian farmers, some time around the early 1700’s.
Originally used as a weight for measuring crops sold at markets. The standard weight was known as a Pood which is 16kg or around 35lbs.
Farmers realised they could use these weights to practice feats of strength and endurance. This is believed to be where some of the original strongman practices began.
The full history of kettlebells in Russia is complex and a bit political and could take up a whole episode on its own.
Kettlebells are not a simple training tool to use. Their design is the simplest thing about them really. The fundamental movement is the swing. It’s complex, yet looks simple.
It was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever undertaken. This is why I love them. Every technique is earned through hours of practice. There is no cutting corners with kettlebells.
But, once you get a technique right, you can feel it. The bell floats and it’s one of the best feelings in the world. This is what inspires me to keep using them.
Kettlebell training is always a full body workout. There is no such thing as an isolated movement with a kettlebell.
They teach you to become aware of where your body is throughout every movement and how to generate tension in your muscles and borrow from the tension to generate more strength to move more weight.
Every movement you practice gets your heart rate up which helps build some epic cardio capacity. It’s a different type of cardio fitness to what is developed through steady state training, but still great for you.
They create lean muscle mass and epic strength. As I’ve shared before mass does not equal strength. Strength equals strength. This makes them extra excellent because lean muscle mass and strength are great for our long term health and wellbeing.
And you don’t need much space to train with one either.
If you are going to learn them, I can not stress enough how much safer the Russian style of training is over the American style.
There are some big differences between these two styles. Regarding a couple techniques. One being the swing and the other being the Turkish Get Up.
I’m not going to get too much into it, but I will say that the American style changes to these movements and in my opinion creates more potential for folks getting injured.
If you’re gonna learn kettlebell training, find a coach that has experience. Kettlebells can be dangerous and have caused MANY injuries when taught by coaches that don’t train with them a lot.
This is because they are a super technical training tool and someone who’s done a weekend course is not going to know the best ways to train you.
If you go to the RKC or SFG websites you can find a certified coach near you. I’m RKC certified and train folks online and in person with kettlebells every day. You can find me at Fearless Movement Collective on Facebook or Instagram.