10 Things You Need to Know About Kettlebells – Part 2

Check out the first part of this article posted July 3rd.


This Part 2 of a 2 part article series covering the top 10 reasons kettlebells are relevant fitness tool for almost any fitness program.

6. Athletic Conditioning :
a. Kettlebells are incredibly mobile, much easier to have available while conditioning or even at skills practice.
b. Kettlebells provide valuable variety in conjunction with speed, agility, endurance, and quickness work.
c. Additionally, what athlete couldn’t use a little development of hip drive along with learning to accelerate and decelerate load?

These are some of my favorite athletic conditioning drill and kettlbell combinations:

-Two-handed Swing + Hill Sprint
-Snatch + Suicides/Ladders
-Horn Squat and Press + Squat Thrust with Jump
-Cleans + Box Agility Drill

7. Strength Development – One of the knocks on kettlebells has always been that “they are good for conditioning but poor for strength development.” This argument becomes pretty much a moot point when you run into the likes of Steve Cotter and Mike Mahler, both of whom are pretty damn strong guys. Of course, then the argument becomes that it doesn’t transfer. Again, the answer is that it does transfer. Coach Ken Black was recently here in Phoenix and did some strongman training. He was easily able to lap a 300 lb stone and flip a 900 lb tire for several reps. Not too bad for the first time on both implements. By the way, Ken does the majority of his training with kettlebells. Are kettlebells going to make you a 600 lb bench presser or a 1000 lb squatter? Probably not. However, for the majority of people out there who want to look good “nekkid” and have a good amount of strength to boot, there is definitely merit in using kettlebells for strength training. Given that kettlebells are available for a good price up to and beyond 105 lbs, most guys will be able find a bell that provides more than adequate load stimulus.

8. Unilateral Lifting – The traditional programming for the kettlebell is unilateral. One-arm cleans and snatches are the basis of a lot of kettlebell work, but that is just the start. Two of the most compelling reasons for performing unilateral kettlebell lifts are:

a. The carrying position of the load while performing press drills allows the shoulder girdle to open up which is very beneficial in this day and age of shit posture. Anything you can do to work against a kyphotic upper back posture is huge.

b. The height at which the kettlebell hand is held when performing drills such as the single deadlift is perfect for quick and smooth transitions through a workout. When performed in a traditional manner, single leg squats or pistols place a massive demand on the trunk to provide stability throughout the entire movement.

Want more unilateral movement and trunk stabilization?

Perform some one-arm cleans and snatches using a kettlebell. You’ll have it figured out after just a few reps. Sure, all these drills can be performed with dumbbells, but they are definitely enhanced when performed with kettlebells, enough to warrant their consideration.

9. Easy Grip Strengthening – About 90% of the people who walk through the door to my facility have the grip strength of a nine year old girl. The kettlebell is a very appropriate tool for improving grip strength because the handle gets incrementally thicker as the weight gets heavier. This works perfectly. As clients get progressively stronger, they are challenged with thicker handles. One of my favorite introductory drills that kills two birds with one stone is the kettlebell farmer’s walk; simple yet very effective at accomplishing several training goals at once.

10. Only One Priority – Whether you are a coach or someone training hard for a particular goal, there is only one thing that matters – Getting Results. The majority of trainees with whom I have contact are very novice and the mere sight of a barbell could send them running out the door and leave me with an empty pocketbook. In contrast, I can have clients deadlifting, squatting, pressing, and sometimes even cleaning or snatching a kettlebell within one or two sessions. To me the sacrifice of the barbell is well worth it, not only from the business aspect, but also because my clients lay down a solid base of good technique due to the aforementioned benefits of using kettlebells. Does this mean I have thrown out my barbell? Hell no! It does mean, however, I have learned a new way to skin a cat. A faster tool to teach = faster results. And that’s what really matters to me, and to my clients. (Note: Most women do well starting with a 12 kg/26 lb bell and a somewhat experienced male could start with a 24 kg/53 lb bell).

Could you and I argue the pros and cons of kettlebell training until we were both blue in the face? Yes, and we probably wouldn’t come close to a consensus. Do you need to own as many kettlebells as I do? Probably not. But you would be ignoring a very valuable training tool if you didn’t at least consider having kettlebells in your training toolbox. In addition to everything that I have discussed here, it’s a well-documented fact that kettlebells can help you become bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic. I am pretty sure each and every one of us is looking to develop at least one of those aspects with our various training programs.

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