Kettlebells are a hot topic in the exercise world. Now you can pretty much find them anywhere, which was not the case a few years back.
They are popular and here to stay, so I want to start breaking down their place in training.
There are a few kettlebell certifications out there and a countless amount of classes that are centered on their use.
The interesting part about kettlebells is that some exercises cannot be done with them or without them.
It is important to remember that they do not have superpowers. They are just another form of resistance in weight training.
Now I am not proficient in kettlebell snatches or cleans and I would never teach them without proper knowledge. That being said I do favor their use in a number of ways.
Who shouldn’t use Kettlebells
1. Athletes that are training for explosive power.
Kettlebells do improve power development, just not as much as Weightlifting or plyometric programs. They are not superior, but another means of training.
2. People that do not have a good instructor/trainer/coach
Do not pretend to be a kettlebell expert if you are not. If your wrists and forearms are constantly beat up from cleans then you are doing it wrong. Find the right person to coach you through it and make the progress that you want.
3. Those that believe kettlebells and only kettlebells are the correct way to train.
If you find value in using kettlebells, great, so do I. They are not the only thing that should be used as a means of training. There is a difference between the preferred and the only way to train. Barbells, dumbbells, pull up bars, etc. still have their place.
What Kettlebells are good for
1. Turkish get ups, swings, and anything bottom’s up.
These are some of my favorite exercises. They are more or less exclusive to the kettlebell. You can do them with other objects but it is not the same.
Swings are great and everyone should do them. They even help reduce low back pain symptoms. Just make sure you were taught how to do them correctly.
2. Teaching squats
Goblet squats are perfect for learning how to squat. The load is close to the body and it is really hard to screw this exercise up. After the initial cues, I can usually trust my athletes to do them right consistently.
It is also safe to assume that if they cannot goblet squat, then a barbell front squat is going to be a horror show.
3. Teaching deadlifts
The weight is right under the body and the hips do not have to get as low as with the bar. They are great for teaching the hip hinge and neutral spine.
4. Metabolic work
Try a finishing circuit of swings, squats, RDL’s, and lunges. I will not take any responsibility of how your legs feel the next day.
Mix in some other equipment like med balls or battle ropes to really get after it.
Kettlebellls have their place in my programs even though I am far from a certified expert. I do not step out of my knowledge level and only prescribe exercises that I am comfortable with.
I also feel spoiled when I can use kettlebells to teach basic deadlifts and squats. They make my life much easier.
So there you go, kettlebells are not superior to any other means of training. They are a variation and should be treated as so. Stay within your limits and you will do fine.