A brief History of Kettlebells
There are various arguments that have arisen over the origin of the Kettlebell, with both the Scots and the Russians making a vocal claim to developing them. The most plausible reason for their existence is that they were used as counter weights to measure grain and other foods in the market.
During these times, it was thought that a test of ones strength was how heavy they could lift one of these predetermined weights (Kettlebells) above their heads. As famous lifters of the time started to use dumbbells for developing muscle as well as testing strength, the benefits of kettlebells got left behind!
In recent years the Russians have taken Kettlebell training and developed it into a highly technical and extremely demanding sport. Below I have listed 6 reasons why Kettlebell Training is ~ELITE!
1. It is a FULL BODY WORKOUT
The Kettlebell basics focus around 3 core lifts, namely: the swing, the snatch and the clean and press. What links all these drills together is that force the body to work as an integral unit. Power is generated through the legs, driven through the hips and expressed through the arms. Every muscle is brought into play, every muscle is made to work hard! A study in a university in Wisconsin in the USA showed that more calories were burnt during 1 minute of Kettlebells snatching than a minute of running (at a speed of 16km/h). Given the fact that you are activating all your muscles fibers during a kettlebell workout this makes perfect sense!
2. Train your FAST TWITCH muscle fiber
Traditional weight training routines focus on slow, controlled lifts. Missing are exercises that focus on explosive movements. Your muscle fibers can be divided into 2 types, namely: Red (Slow Twitch) muscle fibre and White (Fast Twitch) muscle fibre. Slow twitch fibers contract at a slower rate and would suit endurance athletes (marathon runners). Fast Twitch fibers obviously contract at a faster rate (responsible for speed and power). The kettlebell drills focus on training your fast twitch muscle fibers. This is a great way to increase your explosive (and general) strength without adding bulk muscle.
3. Hips don’t lie!
Your hips and legs are made up of some the strongest muscles in the body. While these muscles may not always seem useful when posing on Camps Bay beach, they are a extremely important and are a vital component for almost every sport. Kettlebell ballistic drills work the glutes, hip flexors, abdominal region and erector spinae hard and will translate into greatly improved athletic performance.
4. Get a Grip!
While they are different sub categories for grip strength, I will not elaborate and will rather touch on how kettlebells develop overall grip strength. A well designed Kettlebell should have a thick handle and ballistic pulling of a heavy kettlebell is a great way of developing grip strength – to better explain imagine the following:
Picture a 32kg Kettlebell held overhead. Imagine it in free fall and only your grip is stopping it from forming a big crater in your garden. Now imagine that same weight being explosively pulled upwards to get it overhead again. That should give you some idea of the grip demands of kettlebell training! Improved grip strength amongst other reasons will make holding onto your shopping a breeze!
5. Unparalleled Conditioning
Kettlebell sport training develops; strength, endurance and cardiovascular capacity equally and to extreme levels! Unlike standard gym routines with prescribed breakdown set and rep numbers, kettlebell sport specifies a fixed training period where the only 2 goals are to ‘reach the end’ and beat your ‘personal best!’ There is constant time under tension as the kettlebell cannot be released! Even ‘resting’ with the racked kettlebell requires exertion and one of the major benefits is, training your work capacity in spite of ever increasing fatigue. Another important note is that often when one trains the ytrain the muscles the can see (beach muscles) and often neglect other important muscles creating imbalances throughout the body and leading to eventual injury. Kettlebells drive an incredible amount of eccentric force through the posterior chain whilst working every muscle throughout the body.
6. Taking us back to our roots – PRIMAL
There is something primal about kettlebell training. Whether it be the oddly shaped heavy cannonball between your legs, or the invigorating workout received from these ancient tools, very few things get the senses sharpened, the blood flowing and the adrenaline pumping like a Kettlebell Workout! The sensation is unparalleled from ordinary mundane gym routines! Come learn to speak all of our official languages (or at least curse in them) – join us for the workout and unlock the ELITE within!