Saturday, April 10, 2010

What the heck is a "kettlebell"?

Simply put, a kettlebell is a weight. It looks like a cannonball with a handle. Curiously enough, it kind of resembles a kettle. Kettlebells range in weight from the ridiculously-light 5 lbs. to you'll-never-need-one-this-heavy. They are a powerful tool in your fitness arsenal, not only because they're versatile and portable (I keep mine in the trunk of my car), but because a session with kettlebells can combine cardio and resistance training into one incredible workout.

Kettlebell workouts use more muscle groups than just about any other form of training and they are one of the most effective ways to build up the smaller, stabilization muscles that aren't (or can't) be targeted by traditional weights. Training with kettlebells emphasizes explosive power and builds long, lean muscle.

For you cardio junkies, there is no better cardio than a kettlebell workout. If you can throw down a long-cycle set of snatches and come out the other side not panting like a St. Bernard in Dubai, I would certainly like to meet you.

Most people that have trained with weights have only used barbells or dumbbells. The obvious difference between either of those and kettlebells is symmetry. Barbells and dumbbells are balanced; they have equal weight on both sides. A kettlebell is an asymmetrical weight and because of this, it can be used safely in completely different ways. You can hold a kettlebell above your head with an open hand and have no fear that it's going to roll off your palm and fall onto your head; the mass below the handle keeps it stabilized. Sure, some of the same exercises can be performed with a dumbbell, but the stability of a kettlebell allows you to focus on form and technique.

But for me, the number one reason to use kettlebells is the results. Using kettlebells has dramatically increased my cardiovascular endurance and functional strength. My muscle tone has improved substantially and fat has been dropping faster than a sub-prime mortgage. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Contact julie@juliemacfitness.com to see how kettlebells can help you reach your fitness goals, or check out the Upcoming Classes page and find a class that works for you.

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