They say first impressions last the longest. In the case of kettlebells, my first impression was way off. I was formally introduced to kettlebells about three years ago by my colleague Josh Henkin during one of our weekend training sessions. My wife got hooked on them and almost immediately started looking for them on eBay.
To say I was a little hesitant about kettlebells would be an understatement. As a matter of fact, when I learned that she had purchased a pair of 12 kg kettlebells, I believe my comment was something like, “You can do the exact same thing with dumbbells.”
How things have changed. I now have at least 10 kettlebells in my facility and will probably add a few more in the relatively near future. I also drag around another six or so in my truck for my outdoor fitness camps. I’m sure some of you are thinking that I have gone and drunk the proverbial kool-aid.
No, what actually happened was I realized two things.
1. All of the best coaches that I know use them for many different types of clients. Whether they’re coaching for athletic development, fat-loss, powerlifting, or hypertrophy, you will likely see kettlebells being used during some portion of a training day. There must be some merit to the implementation if all those guys use them with their clients.
2. As a coach and businessman, I can’t afford to ignore such a versatile implement. I have a limited amount of square footage and a limited budget so it is important for me to invest in equipment that I can get a lot out of in a small amount of space.
In other words, kettlebells are just too big a deal and too good a tool to ignore. Whether you are a fitness competitor or a powerlifter, there are many reasons you should at least consider kettlebells. These are my top 10:
1. Pound for pound they are the best piece of home equipment you can purchase. Not nearly as expensive, and they take up a helluva a lot less space than the “clothes hanger” err… treadmill many of you have. For a modest investment, you can get a kettlebell, an instructional DVD, and probably one or two sessions with a local instructor – a much more effective start to a fitness program than “some assembly required.”
2. Price Point – They say duplication is the highest form of flattery. Well, that must be true in the case of kettlebells. It used to be that you could only get kettlebells at Dragon Door. Now there are no fewer than a half-dozen other distributors out there. Are they all the same quality bell? No, but if you do a little research and ask around, you can find out who is selling the best bell at the best price.
3. Instant Feedback Loop – One of the keys to coaching is having the client/athlete understand the difference between proper and improper techniques. With the kettlebell, drills such as cleans and snatches provide clients/athletes with instant feedback. The way the kettlebell falls gives them a not-so-subtle reminder of their improper technique, and after a workout or two, they won’t have any trouble with the technique at all.
4. Teach Olympic Lifts Fast – The bane of teaching Olympic lifting has always been that the lifts are difficult to teach. Kettlebells make an excellent segue. Not only can you teach variants of the Olympic lifts but things can be taken back a notch farther. One of the first things you learn, even in the most basic kettlebell drills, is hip drive.
5. Great for Fat-Loss – I don’t know if there is a better, more easily learned drill than a two-handed kettlebell swing. There are so many different complexes available that the opportunities for ass-kicking fat-loss work are endless. If you could do only one drill, this is it because what you need for fat-loss is to move a load for as long as possible. That’s exactly what kettlebells allow you to do and you can add some speed as well.