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Kettlebells

Kettlebells

A Kettlebell is one of the smallest and simplest pieces of fitness equipment around and hugely versatile too. Although it’s a weight, a kettlebell can be used to build stamina, develop flexibility, burn fat and improve cardiovascular endurance as well as being a really effective strength training tool for the entire body.

The kettlebell is a small, heavy metal ball with a cast handle which originates from Russia some time in the 18th century.  Their original use was a weight for market traders but soon they were being thrown around for entertainment and lifted by weight trainers. Back then, as now, kettlebells were measured in “poods.” (16.38 kg/36.11 lbs).

You can use a kettlebell as additional resistance for traditional exercises like lunges or squats but the kettlebell really comes into play with its unique big range of motion moves.

What Are The Benefits Of Kettlebells?

Muscle Building

As with any weight-based product, their primary function is to help you build and tone muscle by training against the resistance they provide.

Weight Loss

Being able to perform explosive exercises with kettlebells will help you burn through calories and fat at an incredible rate. This will be further enhanced by the heightened metabolism you will have as a result of their muscle building qualities. Combine these qualities and they make kettlebells ideal to aid with weight loss.

Strength and endurance training

Any time you use weights you can develop the strength of your muscles if you use enough resistance. Likewise, selecting a weight that is challenging but doesn’t push you to your limits in just a couple of reps will help you to improve their endurance. The nature of a kettlebell means they are a perfect option to help you achieve both of these goals at once.

Stamina

Using kettlebells to perform explosive exercises will not only train your muscles but will also hit your cardiovascular system. This makes performing these sorts of workouts with kettlebells an ideal way to increase stamina. 

Versatility

With so many weights and exercises available to perform with kettlebells, they allow you to construct versatile, well-rounded workouts, without needing any other equipment.

Optimise workouts

The ability to perform numerous exercises with the same equipment optimises your workout, by allowing you to eliminate the time you would usually spend changing between pieces of different equipment.

Develop flexibility

The ability to use kettlebells to perform explosive, compound movements improves flexibility as your joints are being worked through a different range than you would use in a strict movement, while the connective tissues are also being strengthened in the process.

Types of kettlebell

Cast iron 

The original type of kettlebell, the cast iron variety are made from one single, solid piece of metal. While they don’t look as fancy as some of the more modern options, they are made from an incredibly dense material, so can fit a lot of weight into a relatively small package.

This makes them ideal for anyone who generally uses heavier kettlebells, as they won’t be as cumbersome or take up as much room in your training area.

Vinyl

The more modern version of kettlebell, vinyl kettlebells feature a range of materials used to provide weight that are then coated in vinyl. While some are simply cast iron with a protective coating, others will use other options, such as a lower grade metal and sometimes even concrete.

While often slightly lower in quality than a cast iron version, they do offer a number of benefits, which include them being:

  • Cheaper
  • More attractive
  • More comfortable
  • Less likely to damage the floor
  • Less prone to rusting

Things to consider

Weight 

Calculate how heavy do you need it to be to guarantee you can get a sufficient workout, while at the same time ensuring you don’t do anything to risk your health.

Handle size

While handles are usually standardised and suitable for the majority of users, if you have particularly big or small hands, ensure you will actually be able to grip the handle on the one you are looking at before purchasing it.

Material 

Where you plan to use a kettlebell plays a big part in which material you should select. If you are planning to use it somewhere that it could potentially rust or damage the floor, you may want to consider going for a vinyl option. On the other hand, if space is an issue, then cast iron might be your preferred material.

Training use

Make sure you have a good idea of exactly where you plan to use the equipment and what you plan to do with it. This will help you determine a number of requirements, including weight, size, material etc

Kettlebell window size

The window size of a kettlebell relates to the distance between the handle and the bell itself. What you plan to do with the kettlebell will determine how much this effects your training. A smaller window will give you more control over the weight, making it ideal for stricter movements. However, a larger window will help to generate more momentum, so can be beneficial when performing explosive exercises, such as kettlebell swings.

Ability

Be honest with yourself about your ability level before purchasing. Make sure you don’t select a weight too heavy for you to use in a safe and effective manner, likewise, don’t go for a lighter option than you need just to save a little money.

Space

Before you purchase a product, ensure it is the most optimal choice available when taking the space you have to use and store it in into account.

Warranty

Fitness equipment will usually need to be able to withstand a lot of stress and wear and tear during its life. Meanwhile, purchasing a type of product you may not have used before always comes with the risk of you potentially not liking it. If either of these are concerns, ensure your chosen product comes with a warranty or guarantee that makes you feel comfortable before purchasing.

Your budget

Make sure to check the price right at the start, so you don’t waste time analysing a product, only to discover it wasn’t in your budget to begin with.

Kettlebell maintenance

Kettlebells require virtually no maintenance. Ensure they are stored in a strong, stable, dry location and, particularly with the cast iron variety, ensure to clean off any sweat after use to avoid rusting.

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