Kettlebells… We love them, we hate them, but in the end it’s more love than hate due to the rigorous workout we can get from them. A brief history on the origin of the kettlebell.

The Russian girya (ги́ря, a loanword from Persian غران girān "heavy") was a type of metal weight, primarily used to weigh crops, in the 18th century. The use of such weights by circus strongmen is recorded for the 19th century. They began to be used for recreational and competition strength athletics in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century. The birth of competitive kettlebell lifting or girevoy sport (гиревой спорт) is dated to 1885, with the founding of the "Circle for Amateur Athlethics" (Кружок любителей атлетики).[1]

Russian kettlebells (ги́ри giri, singular ги́ря girya) are traditionally measured in weight by pood, corresponding to 16.38 kilograms (36.1 lb).[2] The English term kettle bell has been in use since the early 20th century.[3]

Similar weights used in Classical Greece were the haltere, comparable to the modern kettlebell in terms of movements. Another comparable instrument was used by Shaolin monks in China.[citation needed][year needed]


Although more modern styles of the kettlebell have come about, the overall design remains the same. You will find excellent designs by Rogue Fitness and ONNIT, which range from octagon styles to Iron Man, Gorilla and Demon Faces. All still effective. 

Traditional Kettlebell

anatomy of the Kettlebell

Anatomy of a Kettlebell

Anatomy of a Kettlebell

Regardless of their odd shape and so distant from the traditional weights we are used to, kettlebells offer a myriad of movements we can perform with them. There are tons of workouts we can delve into, but we will keep it simple, and stick the ones everyone is familiar with. The following are the most commonly used kettlebell movements you will see people perform:

• Double-Handed Kettlebell Swing
• Single-Handed Kettlebell swing

Anything outside of these two and people think it’s too advanced, and they are not. Yes, just like traditional weights you have to watch your form and not go heavy too soon, but if practiced on a daily basis, you will reap the benefits from this goblet of love. There are additional movements, here are some of my favorites, including the ones mentioned above:

• Kettlebell Snatch
• Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
• Kettlebell Clean
• Good Morning
• Kettlebell Squat
• Kettlebell Get up

There are many more but I will stop there for the sake of brevity. I should also mention that there are two types of swings when it comes to the kettlebell, there is the Russian style and then the American style. Both offer cardio and endurance benefits, but I find the Russian style more appealing. The American style has you bringing the kettlebell all the way up, at the highest point of the swing (over your head), where the Russian style has you bringing it half way up to chest level. Everything about both styles are identical except for the mid-way point for the Russian style and the high point for the American. 

Endurance – BEASTING OUT!!

One of the great things about working out with kettlebells is the sweat factor you get from swinging them around. I mean the workouts are brutal, but you come out feeling great. You come out feeling accomplished, stronger, determined. Half way through the workout you are pretty much in brutal mode, or in other words BEAST MODE. The cardio aspect is what’s makes this type of workout outstanding. You are using the mechanisms that help you breathe, you are working the lungs, letting oxygen into those muscles. Let’s not forget the core and how you’re conditioning yourself to execute explosive moves when needed. This is not your traditional everyday weightlifting workout. With kettlebells you’re thrown into a whole other world, where balance, core work, strength and conditioning are paramount. The execution of the moves need to be precise, or you risk injury, just like in the traditional world of weightlifting. With kettlebells, you are using your entire body, where with traditional weights you’re isolating the muscles. Both require attention to detail, I’m not here to talk down on weightlifting, it’s where I started and where I’ll end, but there are other tools out in the world that can be used to build strength, and the KETTLEBELL is one of them!!

The Kettlebell: To Swing or Not To Swing

To swing or not to swing… The answer is to swing, and swing as much as possible. Trust me, you will not regret it. You will get such an awesome workout from kettlebells, that you will literally become addicted to them. You will see an overall improvement in cardio and strength. You will hone in on motion management you never thought you had. You will also become a member of a huge community of kettlebell enthusiast across the globe. I have developed some basic workouts for beginners under our KETTLEBEAST section. You can click on the banner below to check out some of the workouts. In conclusion, the next time you’re in the gym, don’t walk by the rack of kettlebells. Pick one up and work with it. Start simple, remove the fear and intimidation by starting out with 2 handed kettlebell swing. Practice that movement for as long as possible, until you master it. Look up videos, StrongFirst and ONNIT videos are a great source for learning the use of kettlebells, and remember pick up the bell, don’t ring out!!

American Kettlebell Swing        Photo Credit: Keem Ibarra

American Kettlebell Swing        Photo Credit: Keem Ibarra

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