Kettlebell Athletics - Plusses and Minuses

Tons of people, online and off, talk about the benefits of kettlebell athletics training. That it's better than normal free-weight training, it gives you tons of benefits if you do combat sports, that it whitens your teeth while you sleep...

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OK, I made that last one up, but there are tons of claims about the strengths and weaknesses. I personally like kettlebell training, but it's not for everyone and guide below will help you decide if it's for you.


Kettlebell athletics can be a great way to build functional strength!

OK, here's why you should consider using kettlebells. Reason number...

  1. They force you to balance them. Using them in lifts other than the kettlebell swing keep them from hanging naturally vertical, so you have to fight to control them.
  2. Awesome grip strength! The thick handles on these puppies give your forearms a workout. Don't underestimate this aspect of kettlebell training.
  3. Your body & muscles learn to work as a unit. This is important if you do combat sports or anything, really, that involves your entire body.
  4. If you don't have access to a full gym, they can be a gym all their own. With creative use, a few kettlebells can take the place of a full weight-room and power-rack.
  5. They're a talking point and look darn cool. Seriously, making your workout fun and something you can talk about is good. Mixing up your workout and trying kettlebells will make your workouts entertaining and give your body something new to adjust too.


There are also some reasons you might not want to try kettlebell athletics...

  1. Kettlebells are expensive. Yea, that's a major drawback and you have to consider if you want to spend the money. However, it's easy enough to try the exercises with dumbbells and see if they're your cup of tea.
  2. Lack of instruction. While kettlebells are getting more popular, most cities don't have that many places you can learn to use them, if any. Getting good instruction is hard. But...
  3. ...we have the Internet now! There are tons of excellent videos on Youtube, great books, and this site, so you can learn the exercises on you own.
  4. Limited weight. Most kettlebells are a single weight, and then to increase the amount you lift you have to buy another, heavier one. This can put a strain on your pocketbook, especially if you're in college like me.

But, once you've bought one and gotten strong enough with it, use it for endurance. I use my 35lb. one in workouts that stress stamina, using lots of swings.

As you might have gathered, I think kettlebells are pretty versatile. While I don't think they're perfect, they are exceptionally useful and kettlebell athletics can be a whole lot of fun too.

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