It`s always been my experience that when the body is fit, the mind will follow. When I feel good physically, I generally feel pretty good mentally as well. And the opposite is also true; being out of shape, or feeling that I`ve let myself go leads to negative feelings in general. Because of that, I have always made an effort to keep myself in decent shape whether it be with running, aerobics, weight training, skiing, pilates, yoga, dance, ..the list goes on. Recently, I have taken an interest in training with Kettlebells.
Training with Kettlebells is a relatively recent trend, but its existence is actually decades old. The Russians used to train their Olympic atheletes using Kettlebells, and they were used by bodybuilders to obtain muscle definition and incredible strength in a fairly short amount of time. I cannot say enough about this training method.
So what are Kettlebells? They are basically cast iron balls with a handle on top. Because they are made out of cast iron, they are alot heavier than they look in relation to their size. The idea is to grasp the Kettlebell by the handle and swing it in various ways to engage just about every muscle in your body at the same time. It is very different from traditional weight training in that the bells work your muscles as a group rather than in isolation as with regular weights. It takes a little bit of getting used to as it seems to go against established principles in weight lifting, but the results from this type of training are nothing short of phenomenal. Within two to three sessions, you will already feel an increase in strength, and will actually begin to see more muscle definition, particulary in the arms and shoulders, and a few other places..
In addition to offering an amazing workout for your muscles, the balistic movements used in Kettlebells quickly get your heart rate up, burning a ton of calories in a very short amount of time. This type of training is both aerobic and anaerobic, forcing your muscles to continue to use oxygen for hours after each workout, burning additional calories. Studies have shown that the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, (EPOC), or afterburn, the measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity, is extremely high with this type of training. According to research I`ve found, training with Kettlebells can burn up to 1200 calories an hour! Assuming you can keep it up full throttle for an hour, this is about twice what you would burn in most other forms of exercise. Hard to believe I know, but I`ve researched this broadly and this seems to be the concensus.
Apart from the high calorie burn, training with Kettlebells will dramatically increase your strength, balance, agility and cardio endurance in no time. Most, if not all of the moves require that you stabilize your body, thus engaging the all-important core. Other moves require power from the legs, hips, and back to move the weight, giving you integrated whole body movements that are often missing with other types of training.
Given the potential for serious injury using Kettlebells, it is important that you find a certified trainer to provide the guidance necessary to learn proper technique. My sister and I are lucky enough to have found a Martial Arts place that takes this type of training very seriously. Nonetheless, it can be pretty intimidating to train with a bunch of guys who are preparing for their next fight. On the other hand, if it doesn`t kill you, you will never get a better workout. It is a huge challenge and will push you to the extreme, but it is exactly because of the level of difficulty that I have come to love this type of training. When I walk out of that place – sometimes just barely – I have nothing left to give. I am completely spent with nothing but the surge of mood-enhancing dopamine running through my veins to keep me going. Ahh, when is the next class?
Here`s a great place to shop for kettlebells at discount prices :