Kettlebells are growing in popularity throughout Colorado and the rest of North America, thanks to their incredible utility in improving fitness levels, as well as their increasing prevalence in TV and movies.
Brian Copeland, a Russian Kettlebell Certified Instructor in Aurora, CO says “Proper kettlebell training takes care of your strength, cardio, flexibility, bone health, heart health, joint health and stamina.” The ‘bells also add a great psychological edge to your training. Brian adds that the training “requires you to stay mentally focused on what you are doing, which makes it so much more fun than boring treadmill hamster exercise.”
You may know how to use kettlebells – and if you don’t, you should give them a try – but what do you know about this fitness tool?
- The kettlebell used today is descended from an old Russian agricultural weight, similar to those that evolved to be used in the Scottish heavy athletic games.
- Although kettlebells are generally sold in the US in pound and kilogram weights, the traditional weight unit is the “pood” (abbreviated “pd”), equal to just over 16 kg, or about 35 lbs. A basic set of kettlebells for men’s and women’s use is 3/4 pd (12 kg), 1 pd (16 kg), 1-1/2 pd (24 kg), and 2 pd (32 kg), but ‘bells as light as 1/4 pd (4 kg, or about 9 lbs) and as heavy as 6 pd (96 kg, over 211 lbs) are available.
- The Russian name for the kettlebell is the girya, the competition of kettlebell lifting is called girevoy sport, and the lifter is the Girevik.
- In competition, three lifts are contested: the snatch (swinging a single girya to an overhead lockout), the clean-and-jerk (swinging the weight to shoulder height followed by driving it to an overhead lockout), and the jerk (just the shoulder-to-lockout portion). Rather than lifting the heaviest weight possible one time (as in olympic weightlifting and powerlifting), the girevik has 10 minutes in which to complete as many repetitions as possible with the pre-determined weight.
- There are three primary kettlebell training modalities (and dozens of variants): The RKC, or “Hard Style” was introduced to the US by Pavel Tsatsouline as a fitness method; the AKC, or “Fluid Style” headed up by Valery Fedorenko is based on the original Russian Girevoy sport, and trains in the three contested lifts, and the CrossFit methodology, which draws on both styles and modifies as necessary to achieve the desired goals for a particular workout.
- Good kettlebells are cast in a single piece, rather than having the body and the handle cast separately and welded together. Some high-end kettlebells use a method of casting the body around a prefabricated handle, arguably increasing the strength of the handle/body joint even more. Be cautious of vinyl-coated kettlebells, as the coating may hide a weld that can act as a weak point in the weight.
Now that you know more about this amazingly simple and effective fitness tool, go out and give them a try!