Kettlebells are often a neglected part of the gym and for many different reasons. Many gym rat type people think they are just to build your cardio, people don’t understand how to use them or they don’t know the benefits of them. Kettlebells are the key to giving you that extra edge in the gym, field or court by helping you in a few different ways. They help you to build up your weaknesses, build a very strong backside, develop grip strength, work in different planes of motion and build simplicity into your training.
No one likes to admit it but everyone has weaknesses in the gym and rather than ignoring them you should face them head on. Because of the awkwardness of the kettlebell compared to other training modalities it puts you in uncomfortable positions that you aren’t used to. For example, one of my favorite kettlebell exercises, the turkish getup, where you must go from laying on your back to standing up and then go all the way back down while holding a kettlebell above your head whole time. A complete body exercise that is unparalleled to any standard gym exercise and is extremely practical.
One of the greatest benefits of the kettlebell is the ability to build an extremely strong backside. This is important for an ever growing population of anterior dominant people due to excessive sitting, typing, driving and using phones which results in rounded shoulders. As well as for athletes who need an explosive and powerful backside because that is where a majority of your power comes from. You will be able to jump higher, run faster and have better posture all due to your glutes and hamstring that are the power source of hip speed and strength. Dumbbell cleans, presses and rows just can’t compare to ballistic kettlebell work that is not as easy to do.
Building a strong grip is often overlooked by most people but is critical for powerlifters and many athletes. It is still not as common knowledge as it should be but the thicker the bar the thicker your forearms will grow. That’s why products such as Fat Gripz are so popular, they make your bar thicker which requires more muscle recruitment and in turn builds a better grip. Nice thing about kettlebells is that is built into it. On top of that, because of the off-center placement of the weight gives it the advantage over other modalities. For example, you must keep your forearm flexed in the racked position and in the overhead position opposed to dumbbells which you don’t. Then you add kettlebell flows and ballistic movements and grip will develop quickly which will in turn help with other lifts such as the deadlift, clean and snatch.
Working in multiple planes of motion is a highly underrating part of training. Most exercising with conventional equipment is in the sagittal plane. In the sagittal plane there are two primary movements which is flexion and extension. Examples of these type of exercises are curls, rows and squats. However there are a two other planes of motion that are highly neglected in standard training. Exercising in the frontal and transverse planes are important to prepare you for life’s surprises such as slips where you lose your balance. In these situations where you have to catch yourself your not in a perfectly even and in the sagittal plane when your doing say a squat. And your body does exactly what you ask of it so if your never put yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable position then all of a sudden you are in that position such as a fall and ask your body to catch itself it most likely will not be able to do it. This concept also applies to athletes obviously. It is very rare where you work in one plane of motion, the field is a 3D environment so the ability to start and stop quickly, change directions, twist and turn and be explosive with it.
The last benefit of the kettlebell that cannot be understated is the simplicity. With training, people are always looking for the best and newest workout equipment to excel their training. This requires a lot of complexity and equipment that people sometimes don’t have access to. For kettlebell training all you need is a couple of kettlebells ranging from 8-20 kg depending on your fitness level and open space to have an extremely effective strength and conditioning program. Now I have to say kettlebells are not the end all be all to training by any means. To get maximum muscle hypertrophy, strength or power bells can only take you to a certain point. However to excel your work capacity and take your strength and conditioning program to the next level I highly recommend kettlebells.