A kettlebell is used to perform exercises which combine flexibility training with strength and cardiovascular training. They are like cannonballs with a handle attached, and are normally made from cast-iron or cast steel.
Developed in Russia in the 18th century, for weighing crops, they ended up being introduced into exercises and strength competitions. They are traditionally weighed in pood (1 pood is 16kg).
If you purchased a kettlebell, you can expect to pay around £25 for one, depending on the model and weight.
Why use kettlebells?
It is possible to carry out a huge variation of exercises using kettlebells, which is what helps make them so popular and effective pieces of equipment.
When using a kettlebell you simply hold the handle, and because its centre of mass is extended beyond your hand, it recruits more muscles to stabilise your body as you complete movements. This can therefore provide more benefits than exercises using dumbbells and barbells, which don’t trigger your core and stabiliser muscles.
What exercises can I do with a kettlebell?
There are a huge number of exercises which you can complete using a kettlebell (or two), helping to reduce the likelihood of boredom setting in. The following are just some of the most common and straightforward exercises:
Hold the kettlebell between your legs, with both hands, and swing it upwards, until it is level with your stomach. Sometimes referred to as the Russian swing.
Hold the kettlebell between your legs and swing it all the way up above your head, with your arms extended straight above your head.
This is similar to the Swing but slightly higher, and the kettlebell is pulled up in line with the shoulders once you reach the top of the swing.
This is the same as the American swing, but using just one hand rather than two.
Place two kettlebells close together on the floor. Assume the press up position, with your hands holding the handles of the kettlebells rather than being placed on the floor. With your body in a straight line, at an angle approximately 45 degrees to the floor, lift one kettlebell up to the side of your chest, as if you were rowing. Complete repetitions with one arm, then the other.
Using one hand, hold a kettlebell up against your chest with your arm bent at the elbow. This position is called the rack position. You then extend your arm upwards and hold the kettlebell above your head, before returning it to the start position.