Picking Up The Kettlebell Again

When it comes to fitness, I’m far from monogamous. In my lifetime, I’ve had a lot of different training modalities throughout the years. I used to run way back when. I’ve lifted weights. I’ve even tried various video workout systems.

One thing that’s always intrigued me is kettlebells.

Perhaps that’s what I turned back to them on Monday when I was going to start full-body training?

Let me explain.

When I planned on doing full-body work, the last thing I planned on doing was kettlebells. I planned on doing things like bench presses and barbell curls.

Then Monday came and I was kind of stranded at home and the weather well and truly sucked. Lifting barbells wasn’t really workable.

Instead, I looked at my kettlebells (pictured above) and thought for a moment. I said to myself, “Self, those do give you a hell of a workout and you can still train your whole body with ’em.”

Then I replied, “You know what, Self? You’re right.”

OK, I didn’t actually say any of that crap, but you get the point.

For years, I’ve been a fan of kettlebells. The problem is that there’s so much BS surrounding them and what they can actually do. While there is one study that shows definitively that they’re excellent tools for conditioning, there aren’t a lot of studies that are well known for outlining the benefit of kettlebells.

That’s not to say there haven’t been studies. One took a look at whether swings would help sprinters (it didn’t). Another one shows that elderly women with sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue due to aging) who engaged in kettlebell training maintained more muscle mass than those who didn’t train. This could be useful information, but the control group was women who engaged in no exercise rather than some other form of resistance training.

However, at least there are studies, and I’ll be going through them as I can because, well, I’m a curious bastard.

Until then, though, we have an issue. After all, there’s a lot of “bro science” surrounding kettlebells and what they can and can’t do, or at least that’s how it looks. This creates a lot of confusion, especially with regard to just how in the hell to train various body parts with this unusual implement.

So let’s take a step back and look at what I did, and then discuss where it’ll go in the future.

What I did and why

My routine was pretty straightforward. I did three sets of this single complex:

  • Kettlebell Overhead Press – 8 reps each side
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat – 8 reps
  • Kettlebell Swing – 25 reps
  • Kettlebell Bent Row – 8 reps each side
  • Pushups – 8 reps

I didn’t do these for time, nor did I really time my rest periods. I just took the break. Over the coming days and weeks, I’ll work to minimize those until I’m resting for something like a minute between them.

I’ll also add more rounds to this complex at some point in the future.

If you’ll note, there’s only a handful of exercises. That’s because this was simple and off the cuff, so while I talk about reducing rest and adding rounds to it, I may also just scrap this and add something with more thought in the very near future.

Talk Of Kettlebell Things To Come

While looking for authoritative voices on kettlebell training who weren’t directly trying to cash in, I found things kind of lacking. YouTube, for example, has few sizeable channels focusing on kettlebell training. While there are websites out there, I also see a lot of people just taking dumbbell exercises and inserting kettlebells, which isn’t quite right either.

So because of that, it’s time that someone starts looking at science-based answers for what kettlebells are good for and what they’re not.

I can’t draft anyone, so it’s time to start putting forward some work myself. I have access to a lot of the research and a drive to learn, so I guess it’s time to educate myself.

Look, I’m not a scientific type. While I appreciate science and respect researchers who try to understand the way everything works, I know I’m generally not one of them.

I have a great deal of respect for YouTubers like Dr. Layne Norton who actually is a scientist as well as Jeff Nippard who isn’t, but still provides informative content on exercise science. They’re far from the only two.

While I’m not really doing anything on YouTube at the moment, though, I can still try and provide the best information out there on this topic so we can really understand what kettlebells can and can’t do for us.

Maybe then we can understand how best to use them in our routines and in our lives as well as understanding when an exercise might be dangerous.

The thing is, though, I don’t want this to suddenly shift into a kettlebell blog where that’s all I talk about. As it is, I spend way too much time cycling through various subjects here, so I need to do a better job of balancing all that information.

As it stands, I’m going to limit myself to no more than two kettlebell posts per week. I know, I know. “Tom, you’re only posting twice a week as it is.”

You’re right, of course. I am.

But I also need to post at least one post per week about food as well as the odd gear review from time to time, so there are other things to write about.

For the record, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Do you want to see more kettlebell content? Do you want to see a lot more than once a week on nutrition and weight loss? Would you rather I just prattle on philosophically about hurting bad people who want to hurt you?

Or do you just want some chocolate cake?

I’ll understand either way.

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.

8 thoughts on “Picking Up The Kettlebell Again”

  1. I like the posts on hurting bad people who want to hurt you. I’ve been reading a lot of books on the subject lately. Just finished a great one–Be Your Own Bodyguard. Now I’m rereading When Violence is the Answer. I’ve never had the opportunity to use kettlebells, but my wife says they are killer.

    1. Oh, they are.

      I’m going to delve more into the science to understand just how and why they are, but they definitely are.

      As for those posts, I’ll definitely have to work up some ideas on that front.

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