Improved physique: Noticeable weight loss with a lean, long body Russian kettlebells (KB) are not for Kens and Barbies who want to look like “a collection of body parts”. KB’s forge doers’ physiques along the lines of antique statues: broad shoulders with just a hint of pecs, back muscles standing out in bold relief, wiry arms, rugged forearms, a cut midsection, and strong legs without a hint of squat-induced chafing. Kettlebells melt fat; losing 1% of body fat a week for weeks is not uncommon. If you are overweight, you will lean out. If you are skinny, you will get built up. According to Voropayev (1997) who studied top Russian gireviks, 21.2% increased their bodyweight since taking up kettlebells and 21.2% (the exact same percentage, not a typo), mostly heavyweights, decreased it. The Russian kettlebell is a powerful tool for fixing your body composition, whichever way it needs fixing. KB exercises train your body to work as the unit it is. Since the brain knows movements and not “muscles” you become more coordinated with KB use. This is also why athletes look different than bodybuilders.
American Council on Exercise (ACE) study:
Improved quality of life in other ways aside from the purely cosmetic:
Increased energy & vigor, less fatigue Kettlebell training is the solution to trying to squeeze cardiovascular, resistance, functional AND flexibility training in an already overbooked schedule. KB movements will develop strength, endurance and flexibility at the same time; faster than any other method.
Rapidly improved strength
Vinogradov & Lukyanov (1986) found a very high correlation between the results posted in a kettlebell lifting competition and a great range of dissimilar tests: strength, measured with the three powerlifts and grip strength; strength endurance, measured with pullups and parallel bar dips; general endurance, determined by a 1000 meter run; work capacity and balance, measured with special tests.
Voropayev (1983) tested two groups of subjects in pullups, a standing broad jump, a 100m sprint, and a 1k run. He put the control group on a program that emphasized the above tests; the experimental group lifted kettlebells. In spite of the lack of practice on the tested exercises, the kettlebell group scored better in every one of them! This is what we call “the what the hell effect”.
Less pain & discomfort KB’s have a reputation for strengthening backs and abs like nothing else before. The ballistic, but non-impact nature of KB work is the key. You are on your feet the whole time with KB training. It is the perfect antidote to our modern seated society. Only 8.8% of top Russian gireviks, members of the Russian National Team and regional teams, reported injuries in training or competition (Voropayev, 1997). A remarkably low number, especially if you consider that these are elite athletes who push their bodies over the edge. Many hard men with high mileage have overcome debilitating injuries with kettlebell training (get your doctor’s approval). Acrobat Valentin Dikul fell and broke his back at seventeen. Today, in his mid-sixties, he juggles 180-pound balls and breaks powerlifting records!
Who is training with kettlebells?
Celebrities such as Claire Danes, Penelope Cruz, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, and Matthew McConaughey have all added kettlebell training to their body sculpting workouts.
The cast and crew of the film “300″ trained with Mark Twight of Gym Jones in Utah to get in shape. To get the bodies of ancient Spartan warriors and support fight training, the Warner Bros press kit explains, “the training emphasized athleticism by combining compound movements, lifting, and throwing. Primitive tools – medicine balls, Kettlebells, rings – were used instead of machines.”
Athletes of all different shapes, sizes, and sports have certainly jumped into kettlebell training also. Everyone from professional football strength coaches to UFC fighters is discovering, studying, and implementing kettlebell training in their strength and conditioning regimens. Even Bruce Lee trained with kettlebells!
Police, firefighters, and armed forces are all doing kettlebells too! The Spec-Ops teams are using them, the US Secret Service has its own kettlebell snatch test, plenty of SWAT teams are training with them, and more and more fire companies are realizing that kettlebell training is perfect for developing tactical strength without bulking you up. The elite of the US military and law enforcement instantly recognized the power of the Russian kettlebell, ruggedly simple and deadly effective as an AK-47. You can find Pavel’s certified RKC instructors among Force Recon Marines, Department of Energy nuclear security teams, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, the Secret Service Counter Assault Team, etc.
Once the Russian kettlebell became a hit among those whose life depends on their strength and conditioning, it took off among hard people from all walks of life: martial artists, athletes, and regular hard comrades.
If you want to get an idea of what sort of body kettlebell training develops, think less about Arnold Schwarzenegger and more towards Bruce Lee.
Not an athlete, a Navy Seal, or a celeb? Kettlebell training is still for you!
Am I kettlebell material?
Kettlebell training is extreme but not elitist. At the 1995 Russian Championship the youngest contestant was 16, the oldest 53! And we are talking elite competition here; the range is even wider if you are training for yourself rather than for the gold. Dr. Krayevskiy, the father of the kettlebell sport, took up training at the age of forty-one and twenty years later he was said to look fresher and healthier than at forty.
What is the right kettlebell size for me?
Kettlebells come in “poods”. A pood is an old Russian measure of weight, which equals 16kg, or roughly 35 lbs. An average man should start with a 35-pounder. It does not sound like a lot but believe it; it feels a lot heavier than it should! Most men will eventually progress to a 53-pounder, the standard issue size in the Russian military. Although available in most units, 70-pounders are used only by a few advanced guys and in elite competitions. 88-pounders are for mutants. An average woman should start with an 18-pounder. A strong woman can go for a 26-pounder. Some women will advance to a 35-pounder. A few hard women will go beyond.
I Don’t have time to work out or pick up a new training routine.
No problem. One of the beautiful things about kettlebells is that it takes very little time to get a full workout in. Use 10-15 minutes properly, and you’ll be satisfyingly worked and cooked. You can workout with kettlebells twice a week, or every day; even from home. Regardless you will see results, including:
- Development in all purpose strength that can handle the toughest and most unexpected demands easier
- Increase in maximum staying power/endurance
- A forged fighter’s physique with form following function