Kettlebell training has undergone a lightning-fast metamorphosis.
From underground niche to marketing shorthand for health and fitness in a decade. But do the results justify the hype?
A kettlebell is a tool – good results depend on the skill of the user and the goal they’re chasing.
Because a kettlebell is a lot like a hammer.
Hammers are the perfect tool for a lot of tasks – driving in nails, shaping metal or smashing small rocks. And with a bit of improvisation, they’ll make a passable job of others – hole digging, scratching your back, even a measuring stick. But you wouldn’t paint your wall with one.
Many gym-goers pick a kettlebell for the wrong exercise and settle for mediocre results – or worse hurt themselves.
And there’s a lot of kettlebell franchises that deliver “fun” workouts, not results.
Entrepreneurs and personal trainers have jumped on the meteoric rise of mainstream gym culture’s awareness of the kettlebell. But gym classes and bootcamps that only measure results in sweat are squandering the kettlebell’s potential. Random exercises, clumsy technique and high reps can all make you “feel the burn”. But the kettlebell’s results will be as disappointing as any pink dumbbelled aerobics class.
Not all kettlebell training is equal.
Kettlebell results are only as good as the quality of the training they’re used for.
Even using a basic tool like a hammer takes practice and a kettlebell is no different. Exercises like swings, get-ups and military presses appear deceptively simple. But the truth is, they need patience and practice to master. It takes skill to perform them correctly and earn the results they promise.
Taking the time to learn to use a kettlebell properly gets better results faster.
But let’s assume you’ve picked the right kettlebell training and the right coach. What is a kettlebell good for?
Hypertrophy (aka building muscle)
Kettlebell training builds muscle. But if you’re looking for bodybuilder type gains, barbells and dumbells are a better choice.
Kettlebell training will support your fat loss efforts. But fat loss happens in the kitchen, not the gym. You can’t out-swing your fork!
A kettlebell will make you stronger – a lot stronger. But if you’re looking to reach your maximum strength potential barbell training is more effective.
Kettlebells will give you all the cardiovascular training you need for life and most recreational sport. But they won’t give you the endurance of a marathon runner or long-distance cyclist.
Girevoy Sport is a competitive kettlebell lifting niche and arguably the ultimate strength-endurance sport. But strength endurance anywhere close to Girevoy Sport’s top athletes requires laser focus and years of training.
Mobility (aka flexibility – sort of)
Flexibility is your absolute range of motion. Mobility is your maximum controlled range of motion. And kettlebell training will improve your mobility where it matters. But to reach your out-and-out mobility potential the right yoga practice is a better option.
In every category, there is a better option than kettlebell training for the ultimate results.
But only kettlebell training gives you good results in all the categories.
And that’s the real strength of kettlebell training. It’s a Jack or Jill of all trades. Yes, it’s master of none, but it delivers great results across the range of measures that matter for most fitness enthusiasts. And all of the measures that matter for health and quality of life.
And it does it in a conveniently short amount of time. Getting results needs only a minimum effective dose of training.
Can you achieve amazing results with only kettlebells?
But only if your goals align with the potential and purpose of the tool and you invest the time to learn good kettlebell technique.
If you’re interested in kettlebells and want to get the best from your training,
Try our Edinburgh class
Not in Edinburgh?
Find out more about 1-2-1 online kettlebell training
Hi, I’m Ralph
I’ve been training with kettlebells for 15 years and certified as a StrongFirst instructor in 2015. And I’ve been teaching kettlebells ever since.
Why StrongFirst? Because StrongFirst sets the standard for kettlebell instructor certification.
Kettlebells build the strength and mobility needed for life’s physical challenges. The essential fitness that’s vital for your long-term health and longevity.
I teach regular kettlebell classes in Edinburgh.
If you’re not local to Edinburgh, I can help you 1-2-1 online.