It’s the beginning of 2017, and no matter where you look, you’ll see someone trying the latest diet or exercise fad.
In fact, you may have seen some people swinging around a cannonball with a handle that looks like it might be something out of medieval times!
This object, known as a kettlebell, may seem like a fad, but has actually been around for hundreds of years.
Although the kettlebell is nothing new and has not changed structurally over the years, only recently has it gained popularity amongst mainstream fitness. Kettlebells are now available in various colors of the rainbow to satisfy everyone’s aesthetic needs.
To kettlebell or not to kettlebell? Here’s what you need to know about this latest “craze”!
What Is A Kettlebell?
Compared to a dumbbell, a kettlebell has a lighter handle on one end with a heavier weight on the other.
This uneven distribution of weight causes the kettlebell to want to continue in the direction it is currently moving, causing you to use a variety of primary and secondary muscles to stabilize and redirect its motion.
So why would someone use this contraption? Here are its advantages.
The Advantages To Using A Kettlebell In Your Workout Routine
1. It’s a total body workout.
The kettlebell is great for ballistic type movements where you swing the weight using your body as an entire machine.
2. You will burn more calories.
With these ballistic movements, your body is forced to engage multiple muscles at once, requiring a higher calorie expenditure due to the high metabolic requirements of working with kettlebells.
3. It’s cardio and weight training in one!
One of the reasons you have the potential to burn a lot of calories in one training session compared to traditional weight training is because kettlebells provide both an anaerobic (muscle stimulating) workout and an aerobic (cardio) workout in one hybrid movement.
4. You’ll get wicked abs.
You will engage both superficial and deeper core muscles in your abdomen, strengthening and carving out rock-hard abs. Working with kettlebells will definitely provide a great stimulus for your body when your workouts have become stale.
5. You can take them anywhere!
Kettlebells are ultra portable. You can’t lug around a treadmill, a bench press machine, or an entire set of dumbbells, but the kettlebell can be taken and utilized anywhere. If you want a change of scenery, take a couple of kettlebells to the beach, park, or your back yard.
6. Kettlebells are super functional.
Highly functional, the word “functional” is thrown around a lot nowadays but in the case functional is a great way to describe them.
The explosive type movements that kettlebells offer can translate directly on to the court, the field, the fairway, or whatever activity you do that requires athletic movements and coordination.
So, with all of these positive benefits, what can possibly be wrong with this wonderful apparatus?
Warning: What You Should Know About Kettlebells
Before you jump into a new kettlebell workout, there are a few things you should know. Kettlebells are an amazing piece of equipment, but can also be very dangerous to a fitness beginner if utilized incorrectly.
Too many people jump on the “latest and greatest” exercise bandwagon and that becomes their new workout regimen that everyone must try…until injury incurs, boredom sets in, or a new fad surfaces.
The positive aspects of kettlebells are also the negative aspects of kettlebell training.
1. There’s a high potential for injury if utilized incorrectly.
Due to the nature of how a kettlebell is lifted—with lots of swinging motions and multi-jointed movements with a strong hip hinge—the kettlebell has the potential to be an extremely dangerous piece of equipment.
Related: How To Stay Injury-Free This Summer
Too many people grab a kettlebell, tap into their inner Russell Crowe, and start swinging it around like a scene right out of Gladiator.
This accelerated movement, along with lifting a weight that you’re not used to, can cause you to throw out your back, develop joint issues, or even cause you to drop it on your foot (trust me, it’s happened).
Plus, lots of the movements of kettlebell training require your body to be in an asymmetrical position where your spine is completely out of line. This can cause extreme stress on your musculoskeletal system if you don’t know how to properly do the movement and engage every single stabilizing muscle!
2. You can unevenly work out your body if you’re not careful.
The kettlebell is great for strengthening your legs, abs, and shoulders, but it often falls short in properly developing your biceps, back, and rotator cuff if done incorrectly.
Kettlebells can definitely help you burn a lot of calories, develop joint stability, and develop a great core, but in order to achieve those results they must be done safely. With any new piece of fitness equipment or routine, it is important to add one new exercise at a time until proper form is mastered to reduce risk of injury. After all, you won’t become that Greek god when you are laying in a hospital bed nursing an injury that you got in the gym!
Whatever you do, make sure you are keeping a clear mind, set realistic goals for yourself, cherish those around you who support you, and make sure to stick with your lifestyle renovation!
Joey Thurman is a health, fitness, and nutrition expert and the creator of The Lifestyle Renovation, a website dedicated to helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. Joey’s work has been featured in publications such as BodyBuilding.com, Racked, TimeOut Chicago, RedEye, and American Global Traveler. He is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) with the American Council on Exercise, a Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS) and a FITchef. For more information, please visit www.thelifestylerenovation.com and follow Joey on Instagram and Twitter at @JoeyThurmanFit.
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