When time is of the essence, kettlebell training incorporates all elements of fitness for a full-body fat blasting workout in just 30 minutes.
A simple cast iron weight can replace an entire gym full of equipment. Yes, you read correctly. Everything you need to become leaner, faster, stronger and more flexible is contained in a tidy, but heavy, package called a kettlebell.
Everything Old Is New Again – and Better
Kettlebell training is an intense type of exercise originating from Russia more than 100 years ago. Resembling cannonballs with handles, kettlebells are used extensively by Russian military and athletes. These workouts have become a favorite choice of many celebrities. Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, Ethan Hawk, Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Lance Armstrong, Mariska Hargitay, Jason Statham, Kim Cattralland other A-listers all credit kettlebells with helping whittle their physiques – in record time. The three-in-one workout (strength, cardio and flexibility) takes only an average of 30 minutes and helps you get stronger, leaner and in great shape.
The newfound interest in kettlebells can be credited to Pavel Tsatsouline, who created the world’s first kettlebell instructor certification program (RKC). A former physical trainer for the Soviet Special Forces, Tsatsouline popularized the kettlebell workout in the United States through programs he developed and marketed.
Why Does It Work So Well?
Sarah Lurie, CSCS and RKC, founder of Iron Core in San Diego, California, and the expert behind GoFit’s home kettlebell line, started training with kettlebells after an injury from traditional weight training. She used them to recover and fell in love with the other benefits the full-body workout gave her.
“With kettlebell training, I was exercising my entire body, getting a great cardio and strength workout and spending half the time doing it,” says Lurie. “No longer was I isolating body parts, laying or sitting on a machine — now I was using and moving my body as an integrated unit.”
Louis Towkaniuk, RKC and owner of Cutting Edge Fitness in Murrieta, California, agrees. Having been on the scrawny side before taking up kettlebells, his new workout allowed him to become strong and defined without adding too much bulk. At the recommendation of his brother, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Towkaniuk tried Pavel Tsatsouline’s bodyweight training program and naturally migrated to exercising with kettlebells. He worked his way up to heavier bells, transforming his own body in the process. “With kettlebells you are forced to use your stabilizer muscles to control the weight. You gain strength, flexibility, balance, and explosiveness”, says Towkaniuk.
Kettlebell training is hard. Quite hard, in fact. But it’s hard in a way most people find manageable. More muscles in your body are used with each move, which raises your heart rate and encourages your body to burn more calories. The intensity of these workouts allows you to exercise for a shorter duration, but with more gain. According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, doing bursts of harder exercise (interval training) not only improves your cardiovascular fitness but also your body’s ability to burn fat.
An Amazing Butt and Thigh Workout
Kettlebell workouts may improve you cardiovascularly and tighten your abdominals, but they also hit a spot that’s of primary concern to women: The hard-to-reshape butt and thigh area.
Notes Lurie, “The majority of kettlebell exercises use your glutes, and hamstrings, so your butt really works hard throughout each movement. The result is a shapely and firm rear end – one that hundreds and lunges and squats can’t even come close to matching.”
From Injury Prevention to Treatment
Both Lurie and Towkaniuk have experienced first-hand the rehabilitative benefits of kettlebells. Lurie regained her strength and fitness after her injury, while Towkaniuk rehabilitated his own separated shoulder. Clients who have come to both trainers with bad backs and other discomforts are now often pain-free.
Terry Srodawa of Temecula, a client of Cutting Edge Fitness, is happy with his results. “Before, every single workout would result in my tendonitis acting up and hurting. Within just a week of starting kettlebell training with Louie, the throbbing was gone.” Another fan of Towkaniuk’s kettlebell classes, Richard Smeerdyk, concurs. He had experienced the typical “lower back pain syndrome“ and had not exercised his back much before. “The kettlebells really helped me out”, says Smeerdyk. “I work my back and core without really knowing it. And I find it much more rewarding than spending an hour, hour and a half at the gym, running from machine to machine.”
Kettlebells can help people with back pain by strengthening the back and stomach muscles, while simultaneously increasing flexibility through the spine and hips. Weak stomach muscles and tight hips are often the causes of back pain, and keeping them in shape and pliable supports the spine.
Where to Kettlebell
Lurie partnered with GoFit to make kettlebells available to home users. The GoFit kettlebells are available at Target and major sporting goods stores, as well as online at www.gofit.netor www.ironcorekettlebells.com.
Find an RKC (Russian kettlebell certified instructor) near you:
Kettlebell training in Murrieta, California:
Cutting Edge Fitness
38415 Innovation Court, Suite K
Murrieta CA 92563
Kettlebell training in San Diego, California:
Iron Core Kettlebells
2950 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Helen M. Ryan is an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer
and a Certified Spinning® Instructor.