Why Kettlebells?

October 31, 2021

One question that is often asked of us is, why kettlebells? Why do we use kettlebells as one of our primary training modalities?

This is a vast and varied answer, there are many reasons, just as there are many benefits to kettlebell training itself.

I’ll start with history. Kettlebells have a long history and have stood the test of time. The last 50 years or so, we’ve seen many innovations in the fitness industry, some have stuck around and some have faded away. Remember the shake weight? Or chest expanders? They had 15 minutes of fame and then fizzled out. But why is that? Most likely their results were over exaggerated and their marketing budget for morning television dried up. The Leg Press however, in its form that we see today, originates back to the 1970’s and 80’s and is still commonplace in most gyms. Why? Because it gets results, no marketing or gimmicky sales tactics are required to convince you to buy it.

The same goes for kettlebells. Whose history goes back far further than the 70’s and 80’s. I won’t bore you with the entire history of kettlebells, as it is quite in depth and traverses many countries, cultures and eras. The kettlebell in its shape and variation we know of today, dates back to the 17th century in Russia. That's 1601 to 1700. Quite a long time ago. But variations of the kettlebell, (that is, a weight in a shape or form with a handle) have been found in historical records dating back even further across Scotland, China, Russia and even ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks referred to it as a Haltere.

So with all of our innovation and advancement in the health and fitness industry, this round object with a handle over 350 to 400 years old is still around today. That must mean that it works. It has a proven track record of building strong and resilient bodies. At Balance to You we don’t want to train people with the latest fad or craze. We want to teach people and train them with tools that work and deliver results.

Before I first purchased a set of kettlebells back in 2012 I did a lot of research. If I was going to purchase something to help me get fitter and stronger I wanted to make sure that it worked, as I didn’t want to just settle for doing bicep curls in the garage!!! I forged a passion for kettlebells, which 6 years later become a foundation for Balance to You.

History aside, we use kettlebells at B2U for their variability, simplicity and the universal results that they deliver.

Variability is that with one kettlebell you can train your entire body. Your posterior chain and aerobic/anaerobic systems with the swing & the snatch. Your shoulders & upper back with the Military Press and the TGU. Your anterior chain & legs with Goblet Squat. Your chest with the Floor Press. This is just the beginning, add in a second bell and the possibilities, variations and results become tenfold.

Simplicity, as above you only need one bell to see some serious results. But, there is simplicity in kettlebell training. You only need a few key movements trained well to get results. The Swing, TGU and a Squat variation is enough to get anyone to a decent level of strength and fitness. There is a lot of technique and nuance to learning these movements, but once you have learnt them. They’re strength tools for life.

Universal results means a lot of things. I will simplify here as best I can. For example, a strong kettlebell swing, will transfer over to a strong deadlift. But it will also transfer over to aerobic capacity for running. Now I’m not saying that if you want to improve your running capacity or to train for a marathon you only need to do kettlebell swings. You still need to run, and to get better at running you need to run. But deadlifts will result in a strong deadlift and a posterior chain, but will not benefit your running capacity. Kettlebell swings however will do both.

I love kettlebell training for both its simplicity and its complexity. That’s right, it’s both and there is a beauty to that. As above there is a lot of technique and nuance in a lot of the kettlebell lifts. Any movement involving a weight and is performed at speed requires proper technique for both safety and maximum benefit. But once these skills are learned the complexity melts away and the movements become a thing of beauty. As with surfing, one is always chasing the perfect wave; as too with the kettlebell swing, one is always chasing the perfect swing.

Results, history and all that stuff aside. Kettlebell training is fun and its portable. Want to go away for the weekend but also want to keep up your training? Take your bell with you and do some swings at the beach. It’s fun as you don't need to think much about it. For increased anaerobic fitness do more swings in a shorter amount of time. To build serious strength do heavy swings, squats and presses and rest longer than you think you should in between.

We use kettlebells as one of our primary training methods at B2U as they have a proven history and track record that delivers results. Plus, you look pretty bad ass swinging a heavy bell on Instagram 😉

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