I have been incorporating kettlebell workouts into my fitness routine since 2007. It didn't take me long to become hooked on the time-saving workouts and obvious results the kettlebell provided me while I was a busy and highly-involved student in my early kettlebell years.
Once I became a full-time employee in the corporate world, it seemed that this type of functional fitness was the only way I was going to find the time to keep my health in check, and so, I present to you, the top 7 reasons to incorporate kettlebell workouts into your fitness regimen, IMHO (in my humble opinion).
1. Adaptable to Any Level of Fitness
If you’re thinking to yourself, “this person is crazy, there is no way I can put myself through a rigorous kettlebell workout… I google searched the word and I’ve never seen so many abs on one person in my life!” let me reassure you.
First, I agree… how can one person have so many abs?! (We’ll talk about this in a bit). But more importantly, working with a kettlebell is 100% adaptable to your level of fitness. My greatest trainers worked with people from the 5th grade to senior citizens and everyone in between. You can make the workouts as hard or as easy as you need and like, and if you’re working with a personal trainer (which is best for beginners to learn proper movement and technique) they will know exactly how to make the workouts challenging, yet completely attainable for you.
2. A Different Workout Everyday
Because of the versatility of uses for the kettlebell, you or your trainer can structure your workout to be different every single time. Many have heard of the benefits of incorporating muscle confusion into their training. Well, in addition to keeping your muscles out of regular routine, you also keep your mind out of regular routine leading you to be more dedicated and focused to each individual workout. Not to mention, it’s just a heck of a lot more fun to mix it up versus the everyday “30 minute treadmill session followed by bench press and bicep curls”.
3. A Low-Impact Option
We know that running is hard on the knees and rigorous weight-lifting can be hard on the back and joints. The kettlebell can provide a surprisingly low-impact workout as an alternative or replacement to the high-impact options.
Though, I continue to run and lift weights every-so-often, there are many individuals (like my father) who simply cannot continue such workouts on his body. Kettlebell workouts have been a life-savor for fitness-junkies like my dad. He can’t run anymore due to back problems, but since he started incorporating low-impact kettlebell workouts into his workout regimen, he has not only seen fantastic strength gain and aesthetic appeal, but his endurance has improved as well!
How are kettlebell workouts low-impact you ask? Most kettlebell movements are closed kinetic chain exercises where the hands or feet are secure to one place and do not move. The exercise often targets multiple muscle groups at once and are often weight-bearing. If the kettlebell movements are performed properly after guidance from a trainer, the movements can be performed safely at low-impact.
4. Say "bye-bye" To Crunches!
You heard that right! The kettlebell is an unbalanced weight (as opposed to the balanced weight provided by the dumbbell). If you have ever held a kettlebell above your head, you’ll notice that it takes a little bit more work from your shoulders, core, and even legs to keep the kettlebell up there.
As mentioned above, most kettlebell movements are closed kinetic chain exercises so they target multiple muscle groups simultaneously during a movement, and compared to the dumbbell, the kettlebell exercises trigger more parts of the body in order to perform the movements and balance the weight in the beginning and ending positions. It’s only obvious that a key ingredient to stabilization in each movement is triggered from the abdominal region of the core!
So, while you’re working on those defined shoulders or even toning up that booty, your abs are getting in on the action too! (Note: you’re totally allowed to continue performing crunches and can even do some ab-targeted movement with the bells if that’s what you’re into! I recommend Turkish getups and sit-n-reach with a light bell).
5. Trade in Hours Lifting at the Gym or on the Treadmill for Minutes with the "Bells"
According to this ACE (American Council on Exercise) study, a 20-minute kettlebell snatch workout turned up results of burning over 20 calories per minute. To put that into perspective, that is, anaerobically, 600 calories per half-hour. It would take me 1 hour to get that level of burn on the treadmill, unless I'm really down to run at a 6-minute mile pace the whole time... which I'm not.
Needless to say, because of the movements in a kettlebell workout, any athlete can get a decent calorie burn in just 20 minutes while also building muscular strength and improving endurance. Talk about a time-saving effective workout for us busy people! Not everyone will want to be a full-fledged bell lover, but for you, consider it a useful tool to incorporate when you're short on time.
6. Kettlebell Workouts are FUN
Whether you like a challenge, you like to change things up, or you like to be the one person at the gym that knows what they're doing with those weird, heavy, black, irony, pre-historic things in the corner, doing kettlebell workouts manifest fun.
There are many movements that provide a challenge with either the weight of the bell or simply developing the mobility and stability to have control of the full movement. Workouts for time or completed rounds provide a more competitive atmosphere if you're exercising with friends or in a group, while the change-up of movements and exercises keeps everyone on their toes. Finally, the sense of community you develop with your kettlebell family can lead to an irreplaceable bond. (Oh, and a lot of people will ask you how you know how to use those "iron things".)
7. I Almost Forgot! You Don't Need To Wear Shoes!!
Ok, you might be questioning the benefit in this reason, but working out without shoes is a perk in my book and for good reason! Of course, you can totally wear shoes if you wish, but flat-sole shoes are recommended.
So why not shoes? Well, barefoot training can help strengthen your ankles and feet. Plus, it allows for a more stable base for you to stand on. Like I said, you can totally wear shoes if you think that's disgusting or something... but go for minimal and avoid thick-soled running shoes.
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BONUS: For The Ladies - Working out with kettlebells will not make you bulky. Working out with any weights will not make you bulky. Females have a vastly different genetic makeup and hormone level compared to males, and it takes a LOT of dedicated weight training, food preparation (and steroid use for some... harsh reality, I know) to get "bulky". So, don't be afraid of the iron. It can only bring you a tighter, stronger, faster frame along with a dash of confidence and happiness to boot.
To heck with the conclusion! Get out there and swing some bells!