While you may be used to seeing kettlebells at your gym, you may not be using them to their full advantage. While they can be used interchangeably for dumbbell exercises like curls and raises, the key to getting the most out of kettlebells is to play on their unique characteristics.
Kettlebells and Its Benefits
Kettlebells are very versatile and are designed to allow for higher and faster reps for a longer period of time, which makes them a great way to burn fat, increase endurance, and get strong.
Additionally, many traditional kettlebell exercises require more coordination and control than more traditional equipment since the movements are dynamic. Examples of this are jerks, cleans, and swings. Kettlebells also require a lot of energy and muscle activation since you’ll need to absorb the weight of the kettlebell and then change momentum in the opposite direction. Another benefit is that lots of small stabilizing muscles are engaged in addition to larger muscles.
Kettlebells are pretty obviously asymmetrical and the center of mass is located outside the hand when holding it. This requires the shoulder and core muscles to work even harder, which adds to the benefits of kettlebells. More traditional equipment such as barbells, for example, stay balanced because they are held in the center, which means less work for the aforementioned muscle groups.
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Kettlebells also require less transition time between exercises, which makes them a really efficient form of exercise. This is due to the fact that they allow you to flow from one exercise to the next without taking rest time in between. Many popular kettlebell exercises can be performed this way, which allows for a demanding workout in a short amount of time. That not only helps increase strength and burn fat, but also works the cardiovascular system. In a traditional dumbbell, you might have a set of ten reps of one exercise followed by a rest and another ten reps of another exercise, whereas with a kettlebell workout those sets of ten reps of various exercises can all be done back-to-back. In addition to keeping your heart rate elevated for longer, you’ll tax more muscle groups in a short amount of time.
Additionally, many traditional kettlebell exercises are compound movements that work dozens of muscles simultaneously. Doing exercises like swings and cleans allow you to get a very efficient workout in a short amount of time. Of course are plenty of times you might want to do isolation exercises, kettlebells can provide a challenging total body workout in a short amount of time, which is ideal for times you’re working out under a time crunch.
Lastly, when holding a kettlebell in the proper ‘rack position’, it will rest against the forearm, which helps keep the shoulder in a neutral position. This is comfortable and allows you to train harder without risking a shoulder injury.
While kettlebells provide an extremely efficient workout, many of the moves are advanced and proper form is very important. Kettlebell workouts should not be performed without proper training and instruction.