What is a Kettlebell?

A kettlebell is a type of strength/fitness equipment that can best be described as looking like a solid metal bowling ball with a thick solid handle attached.

The majority of kettlebells are made from solid cast iron, although there are steel kettlebells that are used for the largely Russian sport of Kettlebell Sport lifting.   Cast Iron Kettlebells are sometimes referred to as “Russian Kettlebells” because they have been used in Russia and other Soviet countries for decades, primarily to train their Olympic athletes, Martial Artists/Fighters and members of their Special Forces.  Kettlebells are also used to train the Regular Russian Army.

Although relatively unknown in the fitness world, kettlebells have been used for hundreds of years.  You can find pictures of all time strongmen using kettlebells for training and for strength shows.  Kettlebells are great for developing functional strength so that is why they were favoured by the old time strong men.  The development of the adjustable dumbbell and barbell and the focus from strength training to bodybuilding meant that kettlebells largely disappeared from use in the Western world from the early 1900’s, although they were a favourite of Russian coaches who rediscovered them and used them extensively from about 1950 onwards.  The Russian scientists found that the kettlebell was a fantastic tool for developing their athletes.  In a famous experiment Russian scientists tested a group of athletes in a range of fitness tests and then trained half the group with kettlebells only and the other half with the exercises that were being tested.  The Russian scientists couldn’t work out why the kettlebell group, which didn’t train the test exercises at all, out performed the other group of test subjects who had been practicing those exercises in training.  The Scientists gave up trying to work out why and just decided kettlebells were too good to ignore and they became a staple part of training for Russian athletes.

Kettlebell training has re-emerged in the Western world in the last decade, largely due to the writings and promotion of kettlebells by an expat Russian Trainer based in California named Pavel Tsatsouline.  Pavel teamed up with John Ducane who ran a Martial Arts Publication business to sell kettlebells, kettlebells training information (books & DVDs) and a kettlebell certification course called the RKC.  Kettlebells are now used by top sports teams, celebrities, individual athletes and regular everyday trainees because people have now realised that the kettlebell is a great tool to build functional strength, burn body fat, train for sports, develop fitness or just to tone up and look good in your swimming suit.

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