There are loads of benefits to kettlebell training. The person that includes kettlebells into their exercise routine stands to bag a broad range of sought-after health and fitness attributes: from explosive power to core stability and everything in-between.
In this article, I’ll walk you through four of the best kettlebell training benefits. But also, you’ll find tons of links to workouts, training manuals, exercise videos and even a 6-Week Kettlebell Programme.
So, as well as discovering how kettlebells can enhance your health and fitness, you’ll be able to start putting them into practice. Let’s get going . . .
Kettlebell training benefits #1: Muscle endurance
One of the chief benefits associated with regular kettlebell training is muscle endurance. This quality of kettlebells became apparent to me when I undertook the 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge.
After 20 consecutive days of performing 500 swings, I noticed significant increases in muscle endurance. This translated to improved performance in seemingly unrelated fitness disciplines.
For example, before starting the challenge, completing my monthly 15,000-metre row in an hour was little short of a Herculean labour. Yet, concluding the challenge, I not only comfortably covered the distance, but shaved over five minutes off my time.
10 reasons to start kettlebell training
The original participants that first trialled the 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge, reported a surprising array of positive outcomes. Here’s a handful:
Improved muscle definition
Dropping of waist sizes
Increased grip strength
Noticeable body compositional improvements
Augmentation of pre-existing lean muscle mass
Enhanced energy levels
Improved performance in other sports and exercise disciplines
Advancements of strength PBs
Body strength ‘shot through the roof’
Abs really did take on the appearance of slabs!
So, what are you waiting for, get swinging!
Related: Try this Kettlebell Swing Workout
Kettlebell training benefits #2: Core stability
Another benefit of training with kettlebells is the unavoidable augmentation of core stability; that is, ‘the effective recruitment of the muscle that stabiles the Lumbar-Pelvic-Hip complex, together with those that stabilise the shoulder gridle,’ (The Complete Guide to Core Stability).
As a consequence of the ‘destabilisation effect,’ controlling kettlebells requires considerable core engagement. This is something that, according to core stability expert John Shepherd, ‘machine-based gym’ training is missing.
Machines vs kettlebells
Machines and, to a lesser extent, static free-weight exercises, do not demand the activation of the core because the position from which the lift is executed is stable. Think about how stable you are when performing a seated leg press. Contrast that exercise to a kettlebell goblet squat or a snatch-lunge.
While static training is useful for developing maximal strength and as a safe practice ground for new exercisers, over time it can lead to strength imbalances and the neglect of an important group of muscles. Mark Boyle reminds us that functional exercises, such as kettlebell swings, activate a score of synergists and deeply located stabiliser muscles (Advances in Functional Training). You may be surprised by just how important core strength is.
Related: Kettlebell Workout for beginners
Kettlebell training benefits #3: Real-world strength
In a Harvard Health article entitled The real-world benefits of strengthening your core, the anonymous author maintains that ‘properly building your core cranks up the power’ in addition to improving ‘balance and stability’ and helping to ‘prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities.’
But, if you can believe it, there are many more real-world benefits to strengthening your core! According to Harvard Health, some benefits of developing core strength include:
Why you should start strengthening your core
Making you better at performing everyday acts such as hoisting the shopping into the trunk of your car, ‘facilitating’ bowel movements, hoeing those stubborn weeds out the veg plot, and many more mundane but essential tasks.
Improving the health of your lower back. Sarah Keys, in her brilliant book The Back Sufferers’ Bible, corroborates this claim of Harvard Health. Strengthening core muscles can help mitigate back troubles by improving postural alignment. To labour the point, Lawrence states that core stability ‘can help improve your posture, helping to overcome the effects of injuries to the lower back and spine,’ (The Complete Guide To Core Stability).
Improving performance in sports and other pleasure activities. The fact that core stability enhances sports and athletic ability has not escaped the notice of professional coaches. Hence the reason that a diverse range of elite-level practitioners – from fighters to footballs and every conceivable sport in-between – devote some of their precious training time to core conditioning.
Related: Forge a cast iron core with this Snatch Workout
Kettlebell training benefits #4: Cardio conditioning
In The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, the book that brought the ‘secret Soviet weapon’ to the West, Pavel Tsatsouline cites research showing the effectiveness of classic kettlebell exercises for promoting cardiovascular performance.
Of the clean, a big compound exercise involving multiple major muscles of the posterior chain, Prof. Arkady Vorobyev ‘conducted an experiment and learned that even an experienced weightlifter’s heart rate went through the roof following a set of ten cleans with two 32kg kettlebells.’
Kettlebell training keeps your heart rate elevated
Perhaps more interesting still, the weightlifter’s heart rate remained elevated for more than ten minutes after the exercise. From Prof. Vorobyev’s experiment it may be permissible to conclude that, in conjunction with the litany of benefits outlined above, kettlebells possess the capacity to improve cardio conditioning.
While we’re on the subject, the author of The Complete Guide to Sports Training identifies cardio fitness as a kettlebell training benefit. Citing Russian research, Shepherd states that kettlebells possess the power to develop ‘strength in totally unrelated tasks.’
For example, in addition to increasing grip strength, powerlifting performance, whole-body strength endurance, and balance, kettlebells have the capacity to enhance your aerobic capacity.
In this short article, we’ve considered four key fitness benefits of kettlebell training. Just to quickly recap, those benefits include:
Impressive though that list of benefits is, many more could be added. Consider the self-reported outcomes of the first participants to undertake the 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge. Those intrepid swingers would want to see:
Improved muscle definition
Dropping of waist sizes
Noticeable loss of body fat
Increased energy levels
Improved performance in other physical disciplines
Thus, if you need a reason to start training with kettlebells, take your pick from the lists above. Now that you’ve got your reason, you’ll no doubt want to start a Kettlebell Training Programme.
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