Home Equipment #11: Kettlebell

Our series on home fitness equipment continues with the venerable kettlebell. This one should have been further up the list but I'd somehow neglected to put it on the list at all! Oops. But it's here now.

If you're unfamiliar with kettlebells, they are kind of like a cannonball with a handle. The handle lets you use them differently than dumbbells but in many ways they're similar. One difference is that dumbbells are almost always used with one hand whilst the best-known kettlebell exercise--the swing--uses two hands on the handle (usually).

Since they're weights, they are best suited to strength training.

Dumbbells are most often used in pairs. Kettlebells not so much. In fact, although I have four kettlebells no two are the same weight. Some exercises that are commonly done with dumbells and kettlebells include all kinds of presses (bench, floor, overhead, etc.), rows, curls, goblet squats and more. I would normally do these with two dumbbells (except the goblet squats, of course) but use only one kettlebell and do one set per arm (unilateral).

Some exercises that belong to the kettlebell include swings and snatches. You can do these with a dumbbell but they're much better suited to kettlebells.

Kettlebell snatch

When getting your own kettlebells, don't go too light. In fact, go a little heavier than you think you can do. As you get stronger, you'll need it. For men, 30 pounds is generally a minimum; for women, 20 pounds. Kettlebells often come in kilograms instead of pounds--there are about 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. Do the math.

Like dumbbells, there are some "adjustable" kettlebells that can be quickly changed to different weights. I've never used them, so you'll have to do your own research if you think you might want one.

Kettlebell exercises tend to be more technical than dumbbells. There are even certifications for their use. Having a good kettlebell instructor to at least show you the basics can be very helpful. Even the seemingly-simple kettelbell swing has technical aspects to it, much like the barbell deadlift.

Some people are rather fanatical about kettlebells and consider them superior to other weight training. I'd rather integrate them with other strength training methods (barbell, dumbbell, body-weight, etc.). In any case, they are a very effective tool for getting stronger and that's the most important thing!

Be seeing you.


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