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Kettlebell Information and Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT ARE KETTLEBELLS?
A ‘kettlebell’ or girya (Russ.) is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. As the 1986 Soviet Weightlifting Yearbook put it, “It is hard to find a sport that has deeper roots in the history of our people than kettlebell lifting.” So popular were kettlebells in Tsarist Russia that any strongman or weightlifter was referred to as a girevik, or ‘a kettlebell man.’ “Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettlebell athletics,” wrote Ludvig Chaplinskiy in the Russian magazine Hercules in 1913. The Russian Special Forces personnel owe much of their wiry strength, lethal agility, and never-quitting stamina to kettlebells. "Soldier, Be Strong!," the official Soviet armed forces strength training manual pronounced kettlebell drills to be “one of the most effective means of strength development” representing “a new era in the development of human strength-potential.”
Who uses kettlebells in the United States?
The extreme kettlebell workout would have remained the exclusive domain of Russian spec ops, had former Spetsnaz instructor Pavel not immigrated to the U.S. The elite of the U.S. military and law enforcement instantly recognized the power of the Russian kettlebell, ruggedly simple and deadly effective as an AK-47. Once the Russian kettlebell became a hit among those whose life depends on their strength and conditioning, it took off among hard people from all walks of life: martial artists, athletes, and regular tough guys. There is no stopping the Russian kettlebell invasion. Men’s Journal called it ‘a workout with balls.’
Do kettlebells deliver extreme all around fitness?
Voropayev (1983) observed two groups of subjects over a period of a few years and tested them with a standard battery of armed forces PT tests: pullups, a standing broad jump, a 100m sprint, and a 1k run. The control group followed a typical university physical education program that emphasized the above. The experimental group just lifted kettlebells. In spite of the lack of practice on the tested exercises, the kettlebell group showed better scores in every one of them! Researchers at the Lesgaft Physical Culture Institute in Leningrad (Vinogradov & Lukyanov, 1986) found a very high correlation between the results posted in a kettlebell lifting competition and a great range of dissimilar tests: strength, measured with the three powerlifts and grip strength; strength endurance, measured with pullups and parallel bar dips; general endurance, determined by a 1000 meter run; and work capacity and balance, measured with special tests! Shevtsova (1993) discovered that kettlebell training lowers the heart rate and the blood pressure. Gomonov (1998) concluded that, “Exercises with kettlebells enable one to quickly build strength, endurance, achieve a balanced development of all muscle groups, fix particular deficiencies of build, and they also promote health.” Most methods that claim ‘all around fitness’ deliver no more than compromises. Accept no compromises – choose the Russian kettlebell!
How will using kettlebells effect my body?
Russian kettlebells are not for Kens and Barbies who want to look like ‘a collection of body parts.’ Kettlebells forge doers’ physiques along the lines of antique statues: broad shoulders with just a hint of pecs, back muscles standing out in bold relief, wiry arms, rugged forearms, a cut midsection, and strong legs without a hint of squat-induced chafing. Kettlebells have shown to help melt fat without having to do aerobics; losing 1% of bodyfat a week for weeks is not uncommon. If you are overweight, you will lean out. If you are too skinny, you will get built up. According to Voropayev (1997), who studied top Russian gireviks, 21.2% increased their bodyweight since taking up kettlebelling and 21.2% (the exact same percentage, not a typo), mostly heavyweights, decreased it. The Russian kettlebell is a powerful tool for fixing your body comp, whichever way it needs fixing.
Are kettlebells dangerous? Am I too young or too old?
Only 8.8% of top Russian gireviks, members of the Russian National Team and regional teams, reported injuries in training or competition (Voropayev, 1997). A remarkably low number, isn’t it? Note that these were not regular guys, but elite athletes who push their bodies to the edge. This should not be seen as an excuse to lift kettlebells flippantly; any type of strength training can be dangerous if you use bad judgment. As for the age, at the 1995 Russian Championship the youngest contestant was 16 and the oldest was 53! And we are talking elite competition here; the range is even wider if you are training for yourself rather than for the gold.
What size kettlebell is right for me?
Most women can start with a 15-18 pound kettlebell. Stronger women can begin with a 25 pound. Many women will develop strength and use a 35-44 pound.
Most men can start with a 26 – 35 pound kettlebell. Stronger men can begin with a 44 pound kettlebell. Many men will develop great strength and use a 53 pound all the way up to 106 pound.
Do I need to purchase a kettlebell before I come for my workouts?
We have a decent selection of kettlebells; however we do not have an unlimited supply. Our kettlebells range from 18lbs-72lbs. If you do own your own kettlebells you are more than welcome to bring them with you to the workouts. This assures that you are using a weight that you are comfortable with.
What kind of kettlebell should I buy?
With kettlebells growing extremely fast it is common for many companies who don’t really know much about kettlebells to cheaply manufacture them with competitive prices. The problem that is happening is that they are not properly made and therefore, can really get in the way of your training. For example, some handles are too rough and can tear up your hands. Other kettlebells have a vinyl coat, which looks nice, but doesn’t leave the proper room in between the handle and the ball. Therefore, it’s hard to have proper wrist alignment and technique in many of the lifts. The reason why I know is that I have taken the time to use most of the bells out there and I can confidently tell you that the following 3 are made the best:
Can you tell me more about suspension training and which product would be the best fit for me?
Suspension training is using your body weight and it is one of the best ways to compliment your kettlebell training. Using rings or cables will develop amazing full body strength, core stability, and can aide in a stretching program for flexibility. The beauty of suspension workouts is that you do not need a gym and you can take it with you almost anywhere.
How much weight can I expect to lose working with Kettlebells?
Many people have lost 10-15 pounds in the first few months when implementing kettlebell workouts into their regimen. Don’t expect to lose tons of weight if you are eating lots of junk and processed foods. As with any weight loss program, it’s imperative that you incorporate a clean and balanced nutrition. You will feel and look better overall.