A new trend in weightlifting and fitness claims that your workout routine should only last a half hour -- any longer than that and you’re not doing it correctly. Intrigued? Well, so are we.
Kettlebell routines are the rapidly growing workout that’s catching the attention of individuals looking to hop off of that hum-drum weight bench and shape up with the help of kettlebells. The iron weight comes in the shape of a cannon ball, with an attached handle, and combines cardiovascular, flexibility and strength trainings for an engaging, full body workout.
The kettlebell, which links its roots back to Russian tradition, comes in a variety of sizes. The conventional Russian kettlebell weighs 1 pood, or 35 pounds, but is available in lower weight increments.
Rob LaPointe of the White Birch Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Kettlebell Gym in Arlington, Va., explains that kettlebells, in particular, are different from the dumbbell and make for an all-around, more effective workout. How? For starters, dumbbells are designed for the purpose of balance, or equally distributed weight at each end, and so the movement of dumbbells is always predictable. The weight of kettlebells, on the other hand, is ever changing with its shifting, ballistic movements; as a result, the body engages the use of more muscles, inclusive of the core, with the kettlebell workout.
“Dumbbells are held in the center, but with a kettlebell, the weight is at the end of a handle which creates a lever. Also, the bell shifts so the lever is often in motion,” said LaPointe. “The main goal of kettlebells is to recruit muscles rather than isolate them.”
Additionally, kettlebells are an effective workout in that they incorporate cardio, too: “Employing core strength in rapid repetitions gives kettlebell workouts a cardio component you won't find in most machine lifting routines,” LaPointe said.
Routines incorporate movements like the swing, snatch, and the clean-and-jerk. The clean-and-jerk movement involves pulling the kettlebell from the feet to the chest with two hands, holding the weight one-handed against the chest and then moving it above the head. With the snatch, start with your knees bent and the kettlebell between your feet; then, pull the kettlebell above your head and hold. Finally, the swing begins in a crouching position and then extends to an upright position while the person swings the weight parallel to the floor or, sometimes, over the head.
LaPointe further emphasizes that most of these types of lifts are basic and easy to learn, despite the fact that other instructors of facilities may deem otherwise.
“Various groups have offered weekend 'certification' programs for several thousand dollars, when all people really need to learn are the basics of safe lifting, like body alignment, anatomical breathing, relaxing and starting slow as you let experience help you forward,” he said.
Kettlebell routines aren’t just for the Iron Man type of athlete; instead, anyone looking to get fit in general should turn to the workout. For people looking for more definition, kettlebells will strengthen and tone the abs, thighs and shoulders, as well as add to overall muscular strength. People who are looking to lose weight, in contrary, will watch their waistlines decrease with the use of kettlebells on a frequent basis.
While all shapes and sizes can incorporate the routine to their weekly schedules, LaPointe, a fourth-degree black sash, is personally drawn to both working out with kettlebells as well as teaching clients how to use them.
“In addition to great health, strength, flexibility, endurance, balance and coordination, I'd say the main benefit I've found is that in all the gyms I've ever belonged to,” he said, “I never renewed a membership with any of them. But, seven years later, I'm still enjoying kettlebells.”