T Nation

Kettlebells

For those of you who use them, how effective are they. I’m thinking about ordering a pair for myself, but I wanted to hear ya’ll’s input.

They’re as “effective” as dumbbells, or barbells, or sandbags, or tire flipping. KBs are another tool you can use to improve your performance/physique/whatever your goals are.

There are certainly many exercises that the KB is more effective for (such as swings and certain presses), but every tool in the gym has pros and cons. Barbells are great for handling heavy weight, but are tricky to use for unilateral work. DBs are good for unilateral work, but can be awkward for some ballistic/olympic movements.

It wouldn’t hurt to get 1 or 2 KBs, but don’t fall into the trap of using them exclusively for ever and ever. a 6-8 week KB cycle is fine, then try to find ways to incorporate them into your “traditional” routine.

[quote]chtdrmn wrote:
For those of you who use them, how effective are they. I’m thinking about ordering a pair for myself, but I wanted to hear ya’ll’s input.[/quote]

If you have extra money that you don’t know what to do with (and you have already purchased the essentials for your gym) kettlebells are a fine addition. Otherwise, forget it.

I have never seen anything (really important) that kettlebells do that a good set of dumbbells could not do better. Not only that the dumbbells are adjustable! The fact that they are adjustable will also save you money down the road when your strength increases and you need to up the weight.

I agree with the foregoing.

Here’s my take on KBs: The k-bell is basically a primitive and (relatively) poorly designed piece of equipment. For that reason it all but disappeared, except for the Soviet Union where the thing that kept it going was almost certainly the peculiarities of the Soviet command economy, which churned out a lot of poorly designed stuff year after year because there was really no incentive not to. The Soviets did make some good bumper plates and some excellent bars and collars, but the rest of their weightlifting equipment, such as racks, was primitive. Machines of any type were almost without exception horrible. Incidentally, that should tell you that in order to build strength a good bar with weights, a simple squat rack, and burning desire constitute 95% of everything you will ever need.

The vast majority of weightlifters (i.e. O-lifters) that I knew were indifferent to or disdainful of KBs. KBs were relatively easy to come across in gyms, usually forgotten in a dusty corner. They were rarely used, except by the occasional quirky enthusiast.

All that being said, I actually bought an adjustable KB from US Kettlebells several weeks ago, and am very happy with it. My gym does not have KBs; I wanted something compact and easily storable with which I could get in full body workout on those occassions when I can’t get to the gym. KBs can be a lot of fun and are a nice change of pace. They are not ideal for building mass or limit strength (Mike Mahler might disagree), but they can be very useful for building stamina.

I have used my kettlebell for about a year. Since I’ve been lifting for 15yrs, I try many things to add variety to my training. They are great for GPP and overall conditioning.
I have noticed improvements in my delt and forearm development. I would recommend them. However, I do not think that they are any better than basic weights.

Ajax stated, “they are not ideal for building mass.” Very well put. One only has to look at Pavel to figure that one out! His story could read: “Skinny Russian makes good in America” LOL.

I am hoping someone will post back about how many times he can put a 97 pood kettlebell over his head in :42.

"I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU DO THAT ZEB YOU FREAKIN JERK, MORON CHIN-UP LOVING #@%*. lol

Hey, like I have stated in other posts. I give the guy plenty of credit for coming to this country and striking it rich. God Bless him!

Big, big fan of kettle bells. Great core builder and the array of exercises one can do with them is truly amazing. Incorporating them into my program has really increased my overall strenght.

Two problems youl run into though…you need a couple different sets of kettlebells and you really need someone who is experienced with them to show you some meaningful and productive exercises.

If you want to know how effective they are and if they carry over to other modalities of training, I think you should go to dragondoor.com and download the latest issue of Hard Style magazine and read the article Donnie Thompson wrote about his experience with kettlebells and what they did to his bench and deadlift. I don’t believe you can compare KB’s to DB’s just like you couldn’t compare a medicine ball to a barbell. They are all different strength and conditioning tools. If you want to give em a shot, give em a shot. If it is something that you find effective and you use it, it isn’t a waste of $$$ and get as many as you want/need. Better yet, since more and more people are using KB’s now a days, find someone in your area who uses them, meet that person and give them a try yourself before you throw down any $$$. Try them yourself and make up your own mind.

Good luck.

-Scott

If you guys are like me, I absolutely hate doing any form of cardio, especially confirmed in a gym. High rep KB swings, snatchs, or cleans are a highly effective alternative. Also, the shoulder and hip flexiblity gains are incredible. Did I mention, short of performing hi rep heavy DL, I don’t there is anything better for your grip. I can not wait until summertime and taking my KB outside to the park and training (try that with BB or DB).

They are fantastic.They can be great for strength and size.I must also state that I own dumbbells from 2.5 to 125 pounds, Olympic style plates and bars,2 squat cages,etc.I have experiance.It is the routine that matters as far as results.So, if you do 10x10 like GVT with them you will get mass.They are much more technical tham the untrained believes.The off center mass has some definate benifits biomechanically that often go unnoticed.Tabata protocols work great with KB’s as well.Getting advice from those who dont have a thourough understanding of kb’s is like asking a distance runner if barbells are good(they are ok,I guess…) Until you have done repitition CJLC’s with a pair of 70 pounders for a training cycle,you dont really get what they can do.As far as primative and poor being the adjectives used to describe them,sandbags and keg lifting is primatve and poor as well;I would equally recommend them.

Check out Mike Mahlers stuff as far as how much size of strength you can build with them.Or,if you hate cardio,lighter bells for high intensity circuits can kill you.Much less dull and the technical aspect(like an Olympic lift) is very enjoyable.

As far as Pavel just being skinny, his weight class tops at 176 lbs.Would you knock a boxer at that weight for not being big enough?

[quote]chtdrmn wrote:
For those of you who use them, how effective are they. I’m thinking about ordering a pair for myself, but I wanted to hear ya’ll’s input.[/quote]

If you ever make it up to Colorado Springs,you could swing by and try some out.I have them from 9lbs to 88lbs in pairs and a 140lbs single.

If you are looking to buy some KB’s or any 'bells for that matter I must suggest you check out detroitbarbell.com. They have hollow cast iron KB’s that are loadable so you get many different sizes in one purchase. Juat take out a plug and fill with lead shot, sand, water, whatever to make the ‘bell as heavy as you want! Plus add a differnt twist as teh shot unloads and reloads throughout the lift. DBB has some other great stuff as well. Tell Matt over there that Matt Slaymaker sent ya!(2 different Matt’s obviously) I have 2 KB’s and a Big Daddy a 4’ bar with 10" hollow 'bells one each end! I am gonna get some RAT’s soon as well!

In Faith,
Matt

[quote]ZEB wrote:
"I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU DO THAT ZEB YOU FREAKIN JERK, MORON CHIN-UP LOVING #@%*.

[/quote]

That’s exactly what I was thinking.

Since someone brought up Donnie Thompson; I don’t think he has used kb’s his entire lifting career. I believe he built high levels of strength first. Then as his gains slowed down or leveled-off he needed new ways to grow. I don’t know if this is exactly true, but I would guess it’s close.

I read here somewhere here(I’m sorry, I can’t remember who to credit) that you can’t/shouldn’t use advanced training methods when you’re a beginner. Use a simple basic program early to build size or strength(or both). Then slowly work your way up to more advanced methods. If you start out advanced you will have nothing to progress into. I hope that makes sense.

An advanced program is most effective when never used before. The second time around, your gains will not be as drastic. You will still likely make gains, but it just makes sense to progress in a “basic-to-advanced” sequence.

That being said, many people have found that kettlebells have helped in many different ways in many different sports and endeavors. But, I think this is an “advanced” type approach. Powerlifting, for example; kettlebells will likely help you, but will be a better aid once you reach a higher level in the sport.

I’m in no way against kettlebells, but don’t get them because Joe Wide-Receiver sleeps with his 'bell and now runs a 4.1 40-yard-dash. Get them because you need specific help, or you need to address a weakness, and you know how to use kb’s to help.

At the same time, if you just want kettlebells just to play with and get stronger with kettlebells, hey, be my guest. Hell, I’ve eben thought of buying some. Too bad I’m poor.

The point is, they are expensive,
at least to me they are, so know what and why you are getting them.

Good luck comrade,
Toddy

ZEB: Pavel can do 150 snatches each arm with a 200lb KB. I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU DO THAT, YOU FREEAKIN JERK, MORON CHIN-UP LOVING #@%*.

I had to do it.

Anyways, it’s certainly possible to gain mass with Kettlebells, it’s just that your limited to certain areas. Worked great for my shoulders, but that was also a result of lifting using methods I never tried before and are best suited to hypertrophy. As said before, they’re fantastic for GPP. Do high-rep snatches, two-hands anyhows, and turkish getups. You can also toss it around in various ways. One of my friends is getting one because he’s sold on it for convenience. They are expensive, but what are you going to do? We’re captialists.

mastemah: do you just have the dragon door kb’s, or have you tried other ones? A friend of mine got a dragon door kb after we bought our first ones a few years ago, and he said the quality has gone down.

The 'bells that I have from Dragondoor are the complete set from 9lbs to 88lbs in pairs.I have a couple of others (like the ones mentioned above)but they have longer handles; as a result, they are harder on the wrists and shoulders and not in a good way.I have had one shoddy bell from Dragondoor and they replaced it right away,no problem…

You can perform swings with kettlebells; the swing is an excellent way to teach proper hip extension to people who lack the ability to do deep squats are uncomfortable with the deadlift (which is to say, most untrained people).

The Kettlebell’s handle makes lockout overhead a more stable position. This makes it possible to do one-arm cleans, snatches, and turkish get-ups without having to worry as much about balancing the weight.

Doing one-arm snatches and one-arm c+js makes for a good balance of strength-endurance and CV training, stressing different attributes at different points during the workout.

Kettlebells can be juggled. This is fun.

I do not own a set of Kettlebells and probably will not buy one unless I should become very wealthy, but they are an excellent item to have in a gym.

[quote]malonetd wrote:

Since someone brought up Donnie Thompson; I don’t think he has used kb’s his entire lifting career. I believe he built high levels of strength first. Then as his gains slowed down or leveled-off he needed new ways to grow. I don’t know if this is exactly true, but I would guess it’s close.

[/quote]

Actually, he looked into using KB’s because he had hurt his back and wanted to use them to fix it. He was just blown away by the carryover he got on his deadlift and bench. I suggest you download his article and read it. BTW-I never suggested KB’s gave him his high level of strength, it would be ridiculous to do so. I was simply stating, by using what I read of Donnie’s experience as an example, that KB’s carryover well to other sports and can supplement things like PL quite well. To suggest someone wait until they are at a high level of strength before incorporating them is ridiculous. They, at least in the context of PL, are a supplementary exercise or tool. To not suggest using them would be like telling someone to do only squats, benches, and deads when beginning a PL program and to not do any tricep, lat, shoulder, glute, back, hams, and ab assistance work until they get strong enough that they need the assistance work. BS. Use whatever tools you want to use to get stronger. The same thing doesn’t work for everyone and if you want to try something give it a freakin’ shot.

It’s funny how when T-Mag kinda downed Pavel KB’s became baaaaaaad and overrated and all the little “T-Sheep” would slam anyone who claimed to use them. Then when more people started using them, they became ‘OK’ but you had to put the ‘quality control tag’ on them and say, but they are JUST ANOTHER TOOL. Now that high-level PL’ers and athletes are getting turned onto them and experiencing success more people sing their praises. What kills me even more is when someone who has never picked one up, never read Pavel’s book or seen the videos and has no clue what moving with a bell feels like, offers advice on why someone should or shouldn’t use one. Gimme a break.

-Scott

Scott,

I don’t think I was very clear in what I was trying to say. All I wanted to point out was that I thought(again, I don’t know, I will look into his article) that he used kettlebells to add to his already high level of strength. And that kettlebells were not the sole reason for his strength. That’s it.

I also didn’t mean that people should wait until they are elite to use kettlebells for accessory work. I just meant that kettlebells alone will not make you excel in powerlifting or other sports. Unless, of course, your sport is kettlebells.

I have no problem whatsoever with kettlebells and kettlebell training. I think they can be a great addition to any athlete’s arsenal. My only gripe is the price. If they were less expensive, I would probably own a few.

I hope that clears things up.

Will kb’s help me last longer in bed,
Toddy

Toddy,

No worries man, I just can’t stand when people (not implying you were doing this) give KB’s (or ANY training method) the thumbs down without trying it first. I know they aren’t the only way to improve PL, sports performance, etc. but they are a HELL of a tool that can contribute immensly and I believe they are very underrated. I know they are pretty pricy, especially when getting multiple bells, but when I look at all the $$$ I pissed away for years on crap supplements, stupid bodybuilding magazine, and other fitness related shit, KB’s look more and more like a bargain. There are already places you can find them for almost 1/2 what you would pay at DD (not knocking DD, btw, I have 8 bells and they are all DD).

BTW-You should try Viagra for your problem in bed, it is WAY cheaper than KB’s and more specific to your problem! Cheers comrade!

-Scott