Bringing In The Kettlebell

I’ve had kind of a crappy week this week. Yes, it’s because of what happened in Las Vegas. Yes, I will talk about it here at a future date, but not right now.

For what it’s worth, as a gun writer in my daily life, I’ve been writing a lot about what happened, and it’s impossible to cover a topic like that and an event like that and it not take a bit of a toll on you. Nothing like what those who were there experienced, mind you, but a toll none the less.

And the thing I noticed is that the one thing that really got me stoked was thinking about my kettlebells.

If you’re not familiar with a kettlebell, think of a cannonball with a handle on the top. That’s it in a nutshell.

They used to be a key part of lifting, but that changed as barbells gained predominance in gyms across the nation and the kettlebell was largely forgotten. That is until a Russian named Pavel Tatsouline showed up in the West with these strange things and a system he was familiar with from his time in the Russian military.

Kettlebells are fantastic pieces of equipment, and I love the damn things. They are big, heavy, mean, and can help you build strength as you get cardio training in. In essence, they help merge the bottom two tiers of The Warrior Pyramid into one workout.

But only to a point.

You see, the problem with kettlebells are simple. For one, they’re not adjustable. That means while a single kettlebell may be cheaper than a dumbbell set, you can add to the dumbbell set while you have to buy another, larger kettlebell.

This means the prices can really add up as you gain strength.

Also, the weights don’t go up at particularly small amounts. Traditionally, they jump up in 8-kilogram increments. That’s over 17.5 lbs per jump.

Granted, you can get kettlebells in almost any size you want, including in 5-pound increments, so that concern is minimal, but the cost thenĀ really adds up.

Because of this issue with increasing weight, there’s some skepticism regarding kettlebells and their utility in building strength/muscle. I’ll admit to sharing it just a bit.

You see, the key component in gaining strength is something called “progressive overload.” Put ridiculously simple, it’s where you keep adding weight to make your lift difficult. That’s what ultimately helps you gain strength.

Yet, lately I’ve been pondering something else, and that’s using training volume to simulate that.

What I’m talking about is how if you take a weight and can only lift it five times today, but you keep lifting it, eventually you’ll be able to lift that same weight say, 10 times.

Now, let’s say when you first started with the weight, your max was only 20 lbs more (just pulling numbers out of my rear here), but now that you can do 10 reps, your max turns out to be 30 lbs more.

You will have grown stronger.

Now, is it the optimal way to gain strength? Probably not. But it certainly is one approach to gaining strength with kettlebells.

Another, of course, is doubling up the kettlebells.

As it stands, my largest kettlebell is a 16-kilogram ‘bell that’s considered the “standard” size for a moderately strong guy starting out. I’ve not been in a position for a 24-kilogram bell yet, but that’s on the agenda…as is a 32-kilogram bell.

However, I also have an 8-kilogram bell and a 12-kilogram bell bought for my wife and son respectively a couple of years back.

But what if I doubled up what I have?

Oh, I’ll be honest, two 8-kg bells wouldn’t do me a lot of good, but two 12-kg bells would, as would two 16-kg bells.

If I couple that with two 24-kg and two 32-kg bells, then that gives me a lot of weight to work with for a start.

That, coupled with increasing training volume as needed, may just be the ticket I need to getting back on the strength train.

“But Tom, what about your shoulder? Won’t this aggravate it?

There are a handful of exercises that might, and I plan on taking it a little easy with those. Further, I’m not completely abandoning DDP Yoga. I just missed kettlebells and, down the road, dumbbell training. However, the stretch and flexibility that can come from yoga is definitely worth the effort so it will be part of my training as well.

At least for now.

For right now, I just want to get back to work on something I really enjoy that will also help me reach my goals, and right now, that’s kettlebells.


Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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