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Kettlebell 101

In the growing world of fitness, there are constantly new trends, fads, and claims being thrown at you in all different directions. It seems as though there is always a breakthrough exercise, piece of equipment, or product on the market that leaves you with more information than you need. With that being said, it’s easy to get lost in the mix and intimidated by all of this new information (especially when, like most things on the internet, it is conflicting and confusing…but that’s another topic for another day).

One product that is relatively new on the market is the kettlebell. The intimidation was lost on me as I was introduced to them pretty early on. This, however, backfired when I realized I was unable to understand my clients’ point of view when they stared at these ever so daunting and deceivingly heavy bells. As a strength coach, I have learned more and more over the years that although it may seem basic to you as a coach, it is most likely foreign to your client. You spend most of your days thinking and learning about fitness and other related topics, while your clients (depending on the individual) normally spend a lot less time in that head space. Although it may seem fundamental to you, it may be 100% new to them.

This was brought to my attention specifically with kettlebells when I asked a group if they had any particular questions about them before we started with the workshop. In response, they all looked at each other and agreed on one answer: “how to use them.” This forced me to take a step back and simplify as much as I could. Here are a few basic points:

1.) To me, the kettlebell is not all that different from any other free weight you would use (ie. a dumbbell). The big differences are that the weight is distributed all in one area, there is a handle, and the handle is smooth. You can essentially do all the same exercises you do with a dumbbell with a kettlebell, but the shape of the kettlebell makes certain exercises easier to execute (ie. the kettlebell swing).

2.) The grips will be different with a kettlebell than with a dumbbell, but there are also multiple different ways you can grip them. When performing something like a goblet squat, you can use a “crush grip” where you flip it upside down and squeeze the sides of the bell, or you can grab the “horns” (or handle) of the kettlebell either upside down or right side up. I suggest playing around with the grips and seeing which one you prefer.

3.) The kettlebell can also go into what is called “rack position.” This is when you see people holding the bell around their wrist and performing various exercises from here. The keys here are to wrap the kettlebell around your wrist and sit it on a comfortable part of your forearm, make sure your wrist is straight and strong, and to hold the bell tight to your chest with your elbow tucked in. Allowing you wrist to cock back and holding the bell too far away from your body will put unnecessary stress on your wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints.

That is all for now, but more to come! Happy kettlebell-ing (?)

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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