Kettlebells were developed in Russia in the 1700s, primarily for weighing crops. It is said that these farmers became stronger and found them useful for showing off their strength during festivals. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century.
Kettlebell training has been growing steadily in popularity because it focuses on basic training that requires functional, whole-body fitness. This is because lifting and controlling a kettlebell forces the entire body - and specifically the core muscles - to contract as a group. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups at once, better mimicking physical activities such as digging, making them a perfect option for getting a whole body workout in a short time!
Unlike traditional dumbbells, the kettlebell's center of mass is extended beyond the hand, similar to Indian clubs or ishi sashi. This facilitates ballistic and swinging movements. Variants of the kettlebell include bags filled with sand, water, or steel shot. The kettlebell allows for swing movements and release moves with added safety and added grip, wrist, arm and core strengthening. The unique shape of the kettlebell provides the "unstable force" for handling - key for the effectiveness of the kettlebell exercises.
The following movements can be done with a single kettlebell:
- Swing: The kettlebell swing is a basic kettlebell exercise that is used in training programs and gyms for improving the posterior chain muscles. The key to a good kettlebell swing is effectively hinging at the hips, creating stability through the frontal plane. Variations of kettlebell swings include Russian swings (kettlebell goes to chest level), American swings (kettlebell goes to overhead), and one-armed swings.
- Goblet Squat
- Front-Side Squat
- Military Press
- Push Press
- Dead Lift: Suitcase, one-leg
- Carry: Suitcase, rack, overhead
- Russian Twists
- Deck Squat
- Bent Press
- Turkish Get-up (single bell only): A kettlebell exercise that combines the lunge, bridge and side plank to build strength. With a vertically-extended arm, the athlete transitions from laying supine on the floor to standing