Introducing: The Kettlebell

Most of you are probably familiar with the Kettlebell. If not, I’m incredibly excited to share this awesome tool with you. And if you are, buckle up, because hopefully I’ll share a few details and tidbits that surprise you.

The kettlebell was originally developed in Russia, a cannonball with a handle that was used to weigh farm goods during trade. Mythos has it that farmers realized that utilizing the bells noticed they were getting stronger, and continued to integrate them.1 Vladislav Kraevsky, the father of Olympic weight lifting, is credited with popularizing the kettlebell in the 1800s,2 and the first official kettlebell competition was in 1948 in Russia, and has been utilized by the Russian military since.1 Pavel Tsatouiline brought Kettlebells to the United States in the late 1980’s, and it’s gotten ever more popular since, appearing in the Crossfit games in 2007.

So what’s so great about it? Why have Russians so firmly attached themselves to snuggling these hunks of metal, and why has most of the west followed suit? (I’m a firm believer of kettlebell snuggles)

Olympic lifts are complex, multi-joint muscles, and prides itself on heavy loads, good form, and explosive speed. All of which are amazing, and Olympic lifting really can epitomize the amazing things the human body is capable of. However, it’s almost all in one plane of motion-- forwards, and backwards.

The kettlebell, because it is held in the hand, can allow for a greater range of motion and involve even more muscle groups than the barbell. With it, we can do rotational lunges, twisting, and asymmetrical movements like suitcase or single leg deadlifts. We can’t load as heavy with a kettlebell-- our grip strength gives out, but by training with a lighter weight, we can train more rotational strength, and other planes of movement that we might miss out on with a barbell or a dumbbell. And guess what? That’s more functional. We’re multi-planar creatures, moving in weird and wonky ways. So by training with a kettlebell, we’re preparing our tissue for those loads, for those more dynamic movements. And that’s how we prevent injury.

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