Kettlebells — what is it about those oddly shaped cast iron weights that have become a symbol for the CrossFit movement?? How does one get started using those things, and why would they?
It’s been almost a year since I first purchased a kettlebell, my little precious 15lb-er. Back then, I was on the cusp of making the transition to a paleo lifestyle, but still not exactly ready to give up my calorie counting addiction.
I was bored with conventional strength training, I actually had always been — I hated those boring weight machines in high school PE. One day my digiscrap friend t for me designs shared that she uses a kettlebell to exercise — and she’s in amazing shape considering she has two young twins — so I gave it a try!
Pretty quickly, I was in love with that short and stout kettlebell, maybe it was because we had similar body shapes 😉 I could always get myself out of bed to swing and press that kettlebell around like crazy… whereas the resistance bands I had before gave me zero motivation and left a lot to be desired.
Plus, have you seen the awesome bods of the people who compete in kettlebell lifting? My goodness!
Kettlebells have an endless list of benefits, but here’s a few of my favorites:
- Kettlebells are inexpensive, and give a full-body workout. If you only have $30 to expand your home gym, get a kettlebell. Actually, at the time of writing this… a 15lb cast iron kettlebell is only $16 with prime shipping on Amazon.
- Kettlebells require more explosive movement than other forms of strength training, which is ideal for fat loss. They’re better than sprinting in some ways (the most popular form of explosive exercise) because they need less room and engage more muscle groups, while still giving you those bursts of cardio.
- You can get a full-body, strength and cardio workout completed in under twenty minutes with just a kettlebell.
- Other than swinging around a boulder or carrying a mammoth carcass back to camp, you probably can’t find a more primal exercise tool than a kettlebell. Actually, there’s even a kettlebell from Ancient Greece on display in a museum in Athens with an inscription attributing its purpose to exercise.
- With the right knowledge about exercise support forms, you could turn any natural body movement into an exercise movement with a kettlebell.
Since I love my kettlebells so much, and I’m not afraid to hide it — I often get asked to share how I got started with using mine. It was actually very easy, just a few google searches and I had a plan… but I’m a research-obsessed person, so it hasn’t been as easy to get started for others.
I started with the printable kettlebell workout sheet from Women’s Health Magazine (requires an account to download, I keep the PDF on my kindle.) I modified it for my own abilities, like there’s no way I could do that Windmill or the Half Get-Up when I just got started. I eliminated the Half Get-Up entirely, and turned the Windmill into a Tricep Press.
After a few weeks of doing that routine, I didn’t add the Half Get-Up back in — instead I added Russian Twists in that slot because I felt my core needed more engaging. I first read about the Russian Twist in this Greatist article about kettlebells, it’s another great resource if you’re looking to switch up your routine.
Once I got sick of doing the same thing over and over again, I turned to Pinterest to find some new kettlebell moves. I still love the base routine that Women’s Health put together, but I needed more variety. The Greatist article was great, but its few graphics just didn’t give me a good idea of what the move was to be like.
My favorite new resource has been the workouts by Primally Inspired I replaced the Deadlift in the Women’s Health routine with the Snatch, Pull, Press in this routine by Primally Inspired. Sometimes I just do one of her routines straight through, instead of even thinking about the Women’s Health one.
- Have someone who is willing to spot you during your first few work outs. If they’re new to kettlebells too, watch videos online from certified instructors (there’s plenty.) Kettlebells have an awkward shape that causes awkward movements. Those awkward movements require your body to activate more muscles to stabilize, which is a benefit. But if you’re in a bad form, you not only don’t get the maximum benefits to your training — but you can also seriously injure yourself.
- Have plenty of space to exercise in, without obstructions like little puppy dogs who have a love for cast iron and think while you’re on the ground doing your Russian Twists, it means attention time for them.
- Don’t waste your money on adjustable kettlebells. They’re pretty much only good for kettlebell swings. They seem like a good idea at first, but they really aren’t. Kettlebells are meant to be unstable, but not that unstable. There’s plenty of info online about selecting a good weight for your size and skill, but don’t start too small. Some sources would say 10lbs is good for women, but that’s really nothing for most. At very flabby, 15lbs was a good start for me. I currently use both the 15lb-er and 25lb-er. Jeff can do some exercises with the 25lb kettlebell, but he would really need 35lbs or more.
I hope this helps you take the leap into buying your first kettlebell and start swinging! Well, hopefully you’ll do so much more than just kettlebell swings — the possibilities are endless and fun! If you have any questions, speak up in the comments and I’ll try to answer them for you! & don’t forget to pin this article to share the information with others!
Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen. I am not an expert, trainer, or medical professional — just an enthusiast who wants to share this under-loved tool with everyone. Links in this post to Amazon include affiliate cookies to help support the costs of this website.