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Though one of the most visually peculiar pieces of gym equipment, the kettlebell has grown in popularity in recent times. With origins dating as far back as Ancient Greece, the kettlebell became increasingly favored in Russia for several centuries before making a more mainstream appearance in other parts of the world with dedicated kettlebell clubs and functional fitness facilities.
While the kettlebell has found a place in the training routine of more people all over the world, many are still unsure of why this cannonball-shaped weight with a handle should be added to their workout regimen. But no matter your goals, the kettlebell is sure to get you there, so here are 4 Ways Kettlebell Training Will Improve Your Health:
1. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Many exercises with kettlebells can elevate your heart rate just as much as – and sometimes more than – a typical cardio session in a much shorter timeframe, so you can say goodbye to long and boring sessions on the elliptical. Compared to compound movements such as a bench press, kettlebell exercises such as the kettlebell swing are typically performed for longer periods of time. As you cycle through more repetitions, the more your cardiovascular system gets taxed which will improve your endurance.
Studies have shown that 8 weeks of kettlebell training twice a week can improve aerobic capacity by almost 14%. On top of this, a kettlebell workout will incorporate more muscle groups than compound movements. Since kettlebells promote more functional movements, more muscles are activated. For example, kettlebell swings target your core, legs, hips, back, and shoulders. This total body approach boosts cardiovascular fitness.
2. Support Body Posture
Unlike a dumbbell where the center of mass is in the middle where you grasp the handle, the center of mass of the kettlebell is beneath the handle in the “bell”. This requires and teaches you to remain strong and stable throughout the movement while keeping tension, encouraging correct posture, and enhancing joint health and function.
According to Nancy Capparelli, a senior physical therapist at Harvard University-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “your back muscles have to straighten up more to counteract the force of the kettlebell pulling you forward” due to the weight being in front of you in an exercise such as the kettlebell swing, forcing you to work on your balance.
Many people with lower back or general posture issues have seen improvements from kettlebell training by strengthening the back muscles that run along the spine, as well as the lower back, obliques, and abs. Since you must maintain control while lifting or swinging, you enhance your balance in the process.
3. Strengthen Muscles Throughout the Body
Capparelli also noted that "Kettlebells work multiple muscle groups at one time, so you get a lot of bang for your buck with each exercise." Kettlebell training includes a vast range of exercises to strengthen muscles throughout the body while toning. If you use a weight that is challenging but allows you to maintain proper form, you will develop strength as well as explosive power while becoming more coordinated and flexible.
With kettlebell training you will also strengthen the ligaments and tendons throughout your body, thus toughening your joints and making them less susceptible to injury.
4. Enhance Range of Motion and Muscle Mobility
Though many people of all ages and activity levels struggle to move with ease and without pain, kettlebells can improve your flexibility – as you swing the kettlebell overhead you will increase your range of motion little by little. Same goes for squatting with a kettlebell, and many other movements!
Today, it is easy to get tight muscles and stiff joints by sitting at a desk all day or hunching over looking at your phone. This has serious implications on our range of motion and mobility. However, the kettlebell is an ideal tool to loosen your body and move better.
Have you trained with kettlebells before? If so, what are your favorite movements? If not, consider adding to your workout routine with a wide selection of kettlebells.