Kettle Bell Fever


They are lined up on the shelves in the sporting goods store, and the heavier ones look intimidating. With a bit of imagination invoked, they do resemble a cow bell, but I would not want to wear one of these around my neck. Kettle bells are the new weightlifting craze, and for good reason. They are easy and fun to use, they activate stabilizer muscles that other weights don’t, and working out with one burns all kinds of calories. The quick repetitions, muscle extensions and contractions make a kettle bell workout both an aerobic and anaerobic exercise, plus there are so many movements that you can do with a kettle bell that you will probably activate all those muscle  groups you didn’t know you had. For me, the obvious plus to weilding a kettle bell is that it’s fun (provided you don’t drop it on any part of yourself or someone else that you love.)

Kettle bells originated in Ancient Greece, and didn’t make their way to Russia until the 1700s. The girya were used to measure grains and other products sold by weight.

For a decade starting in 1870, a Russian doctor, Vladislav Kraevsky, traveled across Europe gathering information on how people exercised. He hoped to find new ways to improve health, feelings of well-being, and physical education. After introducing bar bells and kettle bells to the Russian public, he became known as the father of heavy athletics. Kettle bell training has prospered in Russia ever since, leaving the world with iconic visions of men with huge pecs and tiny waists heaving huge round balls with handles in the air.

Those images of the Russian strong men may have been one of the reasons that kettle bells didn’t catch on in North America until the last decade of the 20th century. In 1998, former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, Pavel Tsatouline, wrote an article on kettle bells for a popular American sports magazine. When the article captured the attention of readers, interest in the weights grew rapidly in the U.S. In 2001, the first American kettle bells designed in the Russian style hit the market, and soon after, kettle bell instructors were able to receive certification.

Now, kettle bell instruction and routines are available on DVD and online in many places including youtube. If you are just starting to use kettle bells, there are sets available in a variety of weights, but you can begin with one 10 pound kettle bell and work up to using higher weight bells. Some exercises will be done using a double-handed grip, which means the weight will be distributed between both arms, while other moves use a single-hand grip. Make sure the kettle bell you begin with is challenging but not so heavy that you can’t lift it with one arm.

In order to work out efficiently with a kettle bell, you will need to learn how to do a squat properly. I am not implying that you don’t know, but it might be worth it to review how to do a proper squat, as doing them incorrectly can lead to back strain and muscle damage. Form is important when working out with kettle bells. If you aren’t in control of the bell, you might drop it and the most obvious thing it will hit is you. While you don’t need to wear any special workout gear to exercise with a kettle bell, it’s probably a good idea to wear shoes when swinging it. I never do (I live dangerously.)

As with any strength training exercise, it isn’t recommended that you do it every day. You may want to do a kettle bell routine every other day or every third day. Workouts can be quick and still very effective – another plus. When combined with a sensible diet, kettle bell training can help you lose weight and appear leaner fairly quickly. The first kettle bell I purchased from Big 5 Sporting Goods came with a complete workout DVD and a brochure which broke down each exercise and showed how to properly execute the moves. I would love to show you how to do them here, but I am a food blogger, poet, theatre teacher, artist – not really qualified to be a kettle bell instructor. Call me an enthusiast if you will. maybe you’ll become one, too.




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