T Nation

Tell Me About Kettlebells

I don’t know much about kettlebells, other then I believe that they are implemented into Russian Olympic lifting programs. I know some people don’t like them and think that you should just stick to pl, bodybuilding styles of lifting.

So I want to know what you guys think of them. Are they good for explosiveness?-since they seem to be used in Olympic lifting- Or are they just some joke like cross fit?-hah-

They’re a tool that can further your training goals, same as barbells, dumbells and other implements.

They are fun as hell to throw around, tho.

[quote]LUEshi wrote:
They’re a tool that can further your training goals, same as barbells, dumbells and other implements.

They are fun as hell to throw around, tho.[/quote]

How do you use them? I mean dumbbells and barbells everyone uses and they are pretty simple. Yet these look like just giant cow bells or something.

Also what kind of weight should you get for them? I saw some that were 106 lbs or so, how does this carry over to dumbbells and barbells in terms of weight?-basically if i can do x with certain dumbbell weight how much less or more should i use for kettelbell?-

They are fun, but they are really a tool for endurance strength. Very versatile and useful if you have a range of sizes, but relatively expensive as well.

In terms of exercise selection, there are not many things you do with a kettlebell that you can’t do with a dumbbell of the same weight. you can swing 'em, press 'em, do pushups on 'em, rows etc. Most folks just swing them twixt their legs and from thence, up above their heads

Not worth the expense in my opinion. But if you get one, get one that weighs a little bit less than whatever size db you use to train with. They have a different balance that makes them a bit more challenging.

I have had a pair of 40lb kettlebells for over a year, just put in a 20 and 60 lb on order.
I have never heard of them used for 0-lifting. You can do some O-lifts with them and Pavel swears by the one arm snatch. Personally, I don’t do that one, I do swing a lot though.

Are they better than barbells and dumbells? No, just different. And honestly, the aren’t that much different. There are few excercises you can do with a kettlebell that you can’t do with a dumbell.
But, like I said it is something different. A variety in training, something to change things up. I have never purchased a instructional video or book, I have just surfed the net and taken a hint here or there on how to use them.

I use them as a strength/conditioning tool more so than just strength or size. I train with them one of two ways. There first way is ‘rounds’, where I pick several exercises, and do sets, counting only time, not reps. I will do (for example) 45 seconds of work followed by 45 seconds of rest. 3-4 rounds of each exercise, then move on to the next. Trust me, 20 minutes of this is a real smoker.

The other thing I will do is complexes; several different lifts in one. I do (for example) five overhead presses, without resting five rows, without resting five squats, etc.
As a matter of fact, I have my 'bells in the trunk of my car now. I will be on the way to Army PT shortly, and I include kettlebells as part of a circuit. I also throw in sandbags, sleds and sledgehammers. Once again, is it better? It may just be novelty, something new therefore something interesting. I am not trying to sell you on them, but I like them a lot.

Once last thing, if you get one, 30-40 pounds is a good starting point. It does feel heavier than the same amount of dumbell weight. If you get two, I advise getting two different sizes.
Good luck, let me know how it turns out.

[quote]shizen wrote:
I don’t know much about kettlebells, other then I believe that they are implemented into Russian Olympic lifting programs. I know some people don’t like them and think that you should just stick to pl, bodybuilding styles of lifting.

So I want to know what you guys think of them. Are they good for explosiveness?-since they seem to be used in Olympic lifting- Or are they just some joke like cross fit?-hah-

[/quote]

I use them and have used them for a while. I also fight and lift weights.

I have found without a doubt that they have improved my fighting skills dramatically. Power, speed, strength-endurance as well as technique improvements.

Flexibility and mobility too.

What Kettlebells teach that straight forward weight training can’t teach is activating the hips in an explosive manner. It teaches you to unconsciously bring this area back to life, a very neglected area of many trainees in gyms.

I would rate them above Oly lifting only for one reason and that is because you don’t need to spend anywhere near as much time learning the techniques of using them and have the transfer over effects into your sport or training as compared to learning proper Oly lifting techniques.

It has become rather cliche to say “I olympic lift” but so many people do so poorly and will eventually hurt themselves.

Kettlebells too can hurt you if you don’t learn the techniques properly but the learning curve is less steep.

The off center weight distribution has to be felt to be appreciated.

My brother was training with his baby 16 kg ones at the gym and a big buff dude, usually very strong in most lifts found them very hard to handle. He gave up after only a dozen reps and there my brother was banging out hundreds.

They really do work your whole body as a unit which is something missing from normal isolated BB style lifting but each has it’s purpose.

My wife also uses them and she has found it has improved her lifestyle dramatically.

I have clients who I have got using them who have improved their lifestyles too after years of trying to do so with normal Gym sessions.

I wouldn’t discount them at all but this also doesn’t discount other training methods.

Many people have no business touching resistance training when they cant even handle their bodyweight properly as Alwyn Cosgrove has mentioned in the past.

Seriously, it doesn’t mean jack if you can do 20 snatches with a 16 kb kettlebell yet can’t do a push up or a pull up. Learn to be comfortable with your body first.

[quote]Combatmedic wrote:

I have had a pair of 40lb kettlebells for over a year, just put in a 20 and 60 lb on order.
I have never heard of them used for 0-lifting. You can do some O-lifts with them and Pavel swears by the one arm snatch. Personally, I don’t do that one, I do swing a lot though.
[/quote]

Snatches and Clean and Jerks are real cool with Kb’s, you should incorporate them into your complexes, they make a difference.

The Girevoy Sport is awesome too. A real test of character and will power.

Check Valery out:

and this was when he was young.

He is quite an animal now lol. Here he does 2006 reps alternating arms non stop at the Arnold Classic

Another of Valery one arm push pressing 200 pounds for reps

The kettlebells have gotten a lot of fame and hype lately for being superior training tools but like the other guys said they’re not some exercise tools that will blow your mind. I have two of them and use them as a support for powerlifting training and for that they’re really good.

I’m repeating what the other guys said but they’re just one variety of training and when used right they’ll help you to get to your goals. I disagree with them only being good for endurance sports, although they are supposed to be very good in that. I don’t have own experience from that stuff so I can’t say, but done right they will help you become a better powerlifter or what ever your choice of sport is.

I mainly do front swings, power cleans, power snatches, military presses with them but also bent presses, two hands anyhows, get ups, overhead squats etc of the more exotic moves.
I train with 35 and 52 pound bells at the moment, but I will be getting the 70 and 88 pound ones as soon as possible.

Kettlebells aren’t really any better than thick-handled dumbbells. The swing and olympic lift moves done with kettlebells that could be done with dumbbells will be good for explosive strength if, like any weight, they’re heavy enough and they’re moved fast enough. Kettlebells are just weights and are no better than any other weights.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Kettlebells aren’t really any better than thick-handled dumbbells. The swing and olympic lift moves done with kettlebells that could be done with dumbbells will be good for explosive strength if, like any weight, they’re heavy enough and they’re moved fast enough. Kettlebells are just weights and are no better than any other weights.

[/quote]

Not true.

Do a simple test.

Pick a weight you can curl with a dumbell. Use your thick handle as you please and curl it.

Use the same weight in a kettlebell and you will notice it is harder.

Why?

Physics my friend.

Yes you can use dumbbells for many exercises similar to what you would use kettlebells for and no one is discounting dumbbells, but to say they are the same and or no better is incorrect. Try swinging 110 pound dumbbells and you will also notice how akward it is because of their horizontal length.

The mass of kettlebell is spread differently than in dumbell, thus the central point of gravity acts differently. It’s not the same as the dumbell.

This is interesting I’m now definitely considering getting one, I train for track and field throwing.-and this seems to be good tool to help me with my throwing- The fact that people have said it helps with hips and flexibility is a huge bonus for throwing-along with the speed and power-. I do bit of boxing also so the endurance factor would be good also.

Doesn’t hurt to give it a try anyways. -I will still be doing squatting, dl, and oly lifting also-

I just dont get it… lets say an athlete do swings, snatches, clean an presses, etc… with a 32kg kettlebell and his twin brother does the same routine with a 35kg dumbbell (considering that the kettlebell is a little harder), do you really believe that the one who used kettlebell will have better performence, more muscle, less fat or whatever?

The big merit of this kettlebell training thing was bringing the attention to some unconventional lifts that were unknow then,such as 1arm swings and snatches, but all of that can be done with dumbbells.

The biggest merit to KBs would be training the grip and wrists, as snatching with a KB will work it a little more(to avoid smashing your forearm as the bell swings over). This same move will also work timing/core a little more, ie learning to stop at the top instead of swinging the weight all the way over.

Aside from that, I disagree with humble. Maybe this is the tool you used to learn to activate your hips, but DBs and barbells do the exact same thing, if you are training properly, and/or were taught correctly. I was doing 1 arm snatches for years with a DB cause my gym didn’t have KBs. And I learned very quickly to use my hips properly.

Now downplaying KBs, just agreeing with the concensus: these are tools, like any other.

Just to make it clear, i´m not saying that it isnt useful, i think they can be worth buying for a comercial gym for example, but for the guy who trains at home a plate-loaded DB would do it with a way better cost-befenit ratio.

I just dont like the stupid claims like, kettlebells teach you proper alligment, make you explosive or melt fat off your body… its just a weight.

[quote]humble wrote:
FightingScott wrote:
Kettlebells aren’t really any better than thick-handled dumbbells. The swing and olympic lift moves done with kettlebells that could be done with dumbbells will be good for explosive strength if, like any weight, they’re heavy enough and they’re moved fast enough. Kettlebells are just weights and are no better than any other weights.

Not true.

Do a simple test.

Pick a weight you can curl with a dumbell. Use your thick handle as you please and curl it.

Use the same weight in a kettlebell and you will notice it is harder.

Why?

Physics my friend.

Yes you can use dumbbells for many exercises similar to what you would use kettlebells for and no one is discounting dumbbells, but to say they are the same and or no better is incorrect. Try swinging 110 pound dumbbells and you will also notice how akward it is because of their horizontal length. [/quote]

O What a great point so my choice is buy a 200 dollar kettlebell or buy 2 5 pound plates to add to the dumbell. And swings are only thing they are useful for there are dozens of things you can make for under 20 dollars to do swings.

$200? whooaaa… you’re getting ripped!

[quote]Sagat wrote:
I just dont get it… lets say an athlete do swings, snatches, clean an presses, etc… with a 32kg kettlebell and his twin brother does the same routine with a 35kg dumbbell (considering that the kettlebell is a little harder), do you really believe that the one who used kettlebell will have better performence, more muscle, less fat or whatever?

The big merit of this kettlebell training thing was bringing the attention to some unconventional lifts that were unknow then,such as 1arm swings and snatches, but all of that can be done with dumbbells.[/quote]

There IS a big difference between a dumbbell snatch and a kettlebell snatch - whether that will result in “better performance, more muscle, less fat, or whatever” is another issue. You should give kettlebells a fair try before feeling the need to comment.

Kettlebells are fun. Kettlebells are (relatively) expensive. Do you NEED them? Probably not. Could they add a lot to your training? Yes.

[quote]Boris B wrote:

There IS a big difference between a dumbbell snatch and a kettlebell snatch - whether that will result in “better performance, more muscle, less fat, or whatever” is another issue. You should give kettlebells a fair try before feeling the need to comment.

Kettlebells are fun. Kettlebells are (relatively) expensive. Do you NEED them? Probably not. Could they add a lot to your training? Yes.
[/quote]

I’m not saying it isnt useful, just that the what makes it useful is what is done with the weight, not the weight itself. I learned about these one arm lifts, pistols, etc… because of the sites promoting kettlebell training, so i’m not a anti-kettlebell guy… I just dont think that if i have snatched a kettlebell instead of a dumbell in the last years i would be stronger or better in martial arts.

I think that for a gym it would be worth having kettlebells for variety, the same way a gym can have a cable seated row, a row machine, besides all barbells and dumbells and its all useful you can sill have the same results doing the rows just with the free weights.
By the way, i really like Pavel writings, but i think he promoted kettlebell training too much while what is really good and new there are the programs and exercises he teaches, not the implement used.

[quote]Sagat wrote:
I’m not saying it isnt useful, just that the what makes it useful is what is done with the weight, not the weight itself. I learned about these one arm lifts, pistols, etc… because of the sites promoting kettlebell training, so i’m not a anti-kettlebell guy… I just dont think that if i have snatched a kettlebell instead of a dumbell in the last years i would be stronger or better in martial arts.
I think that for a gym it would be worth having kettlebells for variety, the same way a gym can have a cable seated row, a row machine, besides all barbells and dumbells and its all useful you can sill have the same results doing the rows just with the free weights.
By the way, i really like Pavel writings, but i think he promoted kettlebell training too much while what is really good and new there are the programs and exercises he teaches, not the implement used.[/quote]

Yeah, like I said, maybe you should actually try using kettlebells before feeling the need to comment on them… Marketing is a different issue. When is the last time you saw an add for a supplement, routine, or piece of equipment that wasn’t accompanied by exaggerated claims?

I don’t mind people having an opinion, but if you’ve never tried an exercise, piece of equipment, training system/routine, etc., then I just don’t understand commenting on it with plenty of conviction and zero experience - JMO.