Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Kettlebell

The time has come. That's right -  it's time to talk about the my favorite tool, the Kettlebell. First, a little background. The kettlebell first appeared in Russian marketplaces in the 1700s as a unit of measure for weighing grains. The pood (one unit of measure) is approximately 36lbs. These weights had handles for ease of use and transport and soon people (Russian peasant farmers) started throwing them around to show their strength and prowess. This turned into competition and, in the last 100 years, even kettlebell as a sport in itself. But enough history. What does one do with this thing? Here are some of my favorite exercises:

  • Farmer's Carry - Pick up your KB/s like a suitcase and walk. Walk laps, hills, or stairs. Keep your shoulders pulled back and chest up.
  • Swing - The base of most other KB movements. This can be done with either one or both hands. Grab the KB and swing to either chest level or overhead. This video should help with getting started. http://www.maximizedlivingdrhedges.com/exercise-of-the-week-kettle-bell-swing-exercise
  • Orbits - I like to use this to wake up in the morning or as a pre workout warmup. Pick your KB up like a suitcase and start to pass it around your waist. You can change hands either at your 12 and 6 o'clock or your 3 and 9 o'clock.
  • Throws - You will need to be outside for this. Find an empty piece of grass or sand. The goal is to throw the KB as far as possible. You can throw it any way you can think of, be it over head, like a shot put or with a spinning motion like a discus. All throws generate power. Power is a good thing.
  • Turkish Getup - Maybe the most demanding single movement I've done. Start with a lighter weight and perfect your form. This video is a good intro to the move. http://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PBOnePieceView?storeId=10151&catalogId=10751&languageId=-1&pagename=203
Once you get comfortable with the basics of KB movement you can start to explore more complex movements, like the clean and the snatch.

I like the KB because it is small, simple and brutally effective. If your are looking for a cheap home gym, look no further. I let my creativity take over to make up new moves and workouts. Keep checking back for new ideas.


PS - When you are tossing around the KB, it is important to know your surroundings. You will eventually drop it and a flying cannonball with a handle is not very friendly to things like your feet, windows, walls and cat. I prefer to be outside so I can really toss the KB with reckless abandon. I've dropped my 35lb KB in my 3rd floor apartment and thought it was going to rocket through my downstairs neighbor's ceiling. Be careful.

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