Earlier this week I received an email from one of friends, Julie.
Julie asked: What’s your favorite piece of gym equipment?”
To be honest, that’s a GREAT question and, honestly, one that I can answer in different ways.
I love all pieces of fitness equipment but tend to gravitate towards a few select ones that I think deliver the most bang for your buck. One of those is my current fave, kettlebells!
This simple yet relatively inexpensive piece of equipment can be used to deliver a total body workout. One that builds lean muscle and helps shed fat.
Simply put, kettlebell training amplifies your power output in many ways.
Classic kettlebell lifts such as the snatch, and the clean and jerk cannot be performed slowly. Thus, they develop a special quality known as power-endurance, or your ability to produce movements over an extended period of time.
Power-endurance also adds a time component. It’s your ability to sustain fast muscular contractions over an extended period of time. Then there is strength-endurance.
Strength-endurance is your ability to produce force over an extended period of time.
While both strength-endurance and power-endurance are essential qualities to possess, power-endurance is usually what determines who the winner is in sports. That also translates, in many ways, to determine the value of our overall health.
Power-endurance training is an excellent way to training for fat loss and conditioning, and that is one reason I love me some kettlebells.
Using kettlebells forces your body to contend with a constantly changing center of gravity. This is by design. Due to the way it is made the kettlebell’s center of gravity lays six to eight inches outside of your grip; which mimics the forces you encounter in both sports and everyday activities. This feature of the kettlebell will help improve this aspect of sports performance and increase quality of life.
Another benefit is that by using kettlebells we build up our forearms and develop a strong grip. This is largely because Kettlebells possess a thicker handle than their barbell and dumbbell counterparts taxing your grip and developing greater forearm strength.
I can see ladies checking out of this exericse out of fear of developing large forearms, or “Popeye” arms. That won’t happen. Grip strength is something that many of us are lacking. Ever try and open a jar and can’t? That’s lack of grip strength. As our society continues to move away from manual labor it’s only going to get worse. The problem is also exasperated by our constant typing on keyboards, both computer and mobile devices. Kettlebell training will help reverse this trend.
Another benefit of using kettlebells?
They help improve your cardio –respiratory fitness.
Since many kettlebell exercises take place with your arms in an overhead position the muscles responsible for assisting the breathing process are engaged in muscular activity, not allowing them to assist in the respiratory process.
Put in layman’s terms… Kettlebells force the muscles most responsible for breathing to play an even larger role in cardio-vascular fitness. Because they are so versatile and effective, you get more bang for your buck. Because of that, kettlebells allow you to reduce overall training time, allowing you to devote your attention to skill sets, rest and recovery.
Let’s face it; we all are time-crunched these days, so having a quick yet effective workout is the order of the day. And, kettlebell training delivers that in spades!
The use of kettlebells in training helps bridge the gap between strength training and cardio; it’s why they are an integral part of our training here at Full Circle Fitness—NY.
One final beauty of kettlebells is that anyone can use them!
From absolute beginners like those in our Beginner-Bootcamp program to our advanced athletes, they all benefit from the use of Kettlebells.
So if you’re looking for that “perfect” piece of fitness equipment consider the kettlebell.
For beginners 10-15 pounds will get you started safely and effectively and won’t break your wallet.
Dan Romand is co-owner and co-operator of Full Circle Fitness-NY in Albany and Saratoga Springs. He is also a certified personal trainer and regular contributor to TheSpot518, where you can read his weekly column in our Health & Fitness section.