What are Kettlebells?
With their rising popularity you have likely seen one somewhere, but if not they look like an iron cannon ball with a thick looped handle on top. They, of course, come in a pretty wide range of weights growing larger as their weight rises. Originating in hard training Russia, where they are called giryas and are a staple of both military (especially Special Forces) training and that of the world renowned Russian Olympic Lifting teams.
The Kettlebell Design
Traditional Kettlebells are one solid piece of metal, unpainted, unfinished and round on the bottom. This definitely gives a rough and tumble "hard core" look that greatly added to their early mystique. Now with their expanding popularity more Kettlebells are made of two welded pieces, painted or coated in rubber, finished and have a flat bottom to make them less likely to roll on a toe or two. Some lighter bells aren't even iron. Many of these design changes are welcome adjustments. No more chipping up the floor like in the old days and they make the home gym seem a little less like a Spartan camp when you add a bit of color too. Either way as long as they are shaped the same (flat bottom or not), have a thick handle and are the weight you need they will work and work very well.
Kettlebells are available in an extremely wide range of weights. From the ridiculously low weight of four pounds (only useful if you have a five year old child you are training) to monstrous kettlebells that weigh 175 pounds (which I have never personally seen anyone be able to do most kettlebell lifts with). For most of us we will only need to use bells within a relatively small weight range. Reasonably fit men often start with a 35lb kettlebell and take at least a few months mastering the various core lifts before needing to jump up in weight. Speaking of weight, kettlebells are normally marked in both pounds and kilograms. The truly serious companies, in homage to the kettlebell's Russian origins also list their weight in the Russian pood, which is 36 pounds give or take. Which explains why traditionally men start off with the 35lb Kettlebell - it's our closest equivalent of a Russian pood!
The Kettlebell Advantage
The design and size of the Kettlebell makes it the near perfect tool for building fitness and strength. Dumbbells and barbells, though both have their place, are not nearly as good or as versatile for quickly getting yourself into great shape. The Kettlebell offers real advantages you just can't find elsewhere. As we dig deeper into our Guide and, more importantly, you experiment and explore the Kettlebell exercises and programs in our Guide you will have the opportunity to experience these training miracle firsthand.