Do Kettlebells Build Muscle? A Guide to Building More Muscle with Kettlebells
A Guide to Building More Muscle with Kettlebells
Did you know that kettlebells were used as a counterweight for market goods in Russia? Research also shows that Olympians trained with kettlebells – only their kettlebells were carved of stone and not made of iron. Now, you can pretty much find them in any gym all around the world – primarily because they provide a quick and efficient way to work out, especially when it comes to building muscle. Here are the deets:
What Are Kettlebells?
Kettlebells are basically cast iron bowling balls with a handle on them that come in various sizes and weights. This handle is key to the kettlebell and allows you to swing and gain the necessary momentum needed to displace the weight. The way the weight is displaced requires you to contract your core and successfully lift and follow-through on the full kettlebell swings, which essentially requires you to use many muscle groups altogether. As a result, you gain increased strength, fat loss, and a general sense of feeling stronger and more fit.
Can You Build Muscle With Kettlebells?
Regardless if you’re interested in building muscle mass or strength – they’re both an excellent benefit to working out with kettlebells – especially if you mix it up with some cardio. The beauty of kettlebell workouts is that they give you an awesome cardio workout while also building strength. And part of the reason why kettlebells are unique is that they give you mobility with resistance – basically giving you the power to work on mobility, core strength, balance, and range of motion. You can also challenge yourself by going higher in weight when your body is ready and you’ve mastered the art of the kettlebell. Did you know that some people have even reported burning 900 calories in a one-hour of a kettlebell workout? DANG, son!
What Are The Benefits of Strength Training with Kettlebells?
While building strength with kettlebells, you will most likely be working out with multi-planar, multi-joint movements (that’s if you’re doing it right). What this means, is that these are movements that the human body uses when performing many basic functions – like walking, lunging, core rotations. Think about it, when you use barbells or dumbbells when working out, you’re typically lying on a bench or sitting down. However, when using a kettlebell you’re using significantly more muscles for strength training – swinging, squatting, and engaging your core the entire time.
Kettlebells are also a time saver because you don’t need as much time to have an effective workout. The average kettlebell workout is anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on your strength and stamina, and your body continues to burn calories for up to 8 hours afterward. Thirty minutes with a kettlebell is as effective as a 60-minute run if done with intensity.
Kettlebells are also simple pieces of equipment that are fairly easy to use and just about anybody can grasp the basics quickly, after all, there is only one handle to grab. This is where kettlebells win because this isn’t always the case with a lot of other gym equipment.
What Are The Dangers Of Strength Training with Kettlebells?
The dangers of training with kettlebells lie within lack of knowledge of fundamentals and technique and treating kettlebells like dumbbells as they should not be used for bicep curls. Another risk is feeling the need to not train methodically. To be successful with kettlebells, you must train progressively, take your time, and refrain from complicated workouts – at least until you’re able to maintain the correct form. Keep it simple at first but keep the intensity high and you’ll do just fine.
How Do I Get Started With The Kettlebell?
Most importantly, start small. The kettlebell requires you to move and engage your muscles differently than what you’re probably used to if you’ve been using traditional ways of building muscle. Once you master the form and feel comfortable with the technique, only then should up the amount of weight. Just because you can lift a decent amount of weight, doesn’t mean you should do so when just starting with the kettlebell. Staying with the lightest weight while you’re getting used to the technique is the best approach to avoid injury and allow you to continue practicing and getting more advanced.
Here’s some exercises to try on beginner, intermediate, and advanced level.
Beginner Level – Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing
To target the shoulders, back, legs, hips, and glutes, stand straight with feet just a little wider than your hips.
Hold the kettlebell handle, palms down, with both hands. Slightly bend your knees (not quite a half squat), and in one smooth motion, drive your hips forward and swing the kettlebell up to chest level, keeping your arms straight.
Then lower the kettlebell down between your legs. Make sure you engage your core and butt muscles to control the swing and get that momentum going. It’s important to remember that this movement comes from the hips and NOT the arms. Go for 12-15 reps.
Intermediate Level – Kettlebell Russian Twist
To target the abs and the obliques start on the floor with your knees bent, like you’re about to do a traditional crunch. Hold the kettlebell close to your chest and lean back about 45 degrees.
Begin rotating your torso from left to right while moving the kettlebell from left to right with you. Keep the form, and don’t make a jerky movement, go steady and slow and you’ll start to feel your abs set aflame. Go for 12-15 reps. Trust us on this one. Whew!
Intermediate Level – Kettlebell Figure 8
To target the arms, back, and abs, start with your legs slightly wider than your hips, assume a quarter squat position – similar to the previous instruction for beginner – while keeping your back straight and keep your chest up.
Start with the kettlebell in your left hand and swing it around the outside of your left leg, then back to the center. Continue this movement by passing the kettlebell to your right hand and continue to swing around your right leg and back to the center. So on and so forth.
Keep doing this at least a minute, aim for two if you want more of a challenge.
Advanced Level – Kettlebell Snatch
This exercise targets the shoulders, chest, and back. Hold the kettlebell between your feet with your knees bent. Explode up and raise the kettlebell to chest level, tuck your elbows, and follow-through by lifting yourself on your toes.
Then, raise the kettlebell overhead and hold onto the handle tight and bring it back to the starting position. This includes one rep and you should try and go for at least 8-10 reps. Switch arms.
Considering Buying Your Own Kettlebell/s? Here’s what you need to look out for!
Owning kettlebells is cheaper than buying a gym membership, as we all know. So, if you’re thinking about investing in your own set of kettlebells, you need to be careful. Here are some tips if you’re in the market:
Go with iron, not plastic.
You want your kettlebell to be made from metal not only because plastic isn’t environmentally friendly but also because plastic does not equal longevity when it comes to exercise equipment.
Find a kettlebell with smooth handles.
You want the handles of the kettlebell to be smooth because this is where your hands are. A rough handle will tear up your hands. Simple as that.
Cheaper is not always better.
These things will last you a lifetime if you let them. It’s best to get a good model with quality standards.
When the kettlebell is not in your hands it needs to be able to sit flat on the ground. This also needs to be made out of cast iron, too. This ensures the bell has the stability it needs.
Make sure the kettlebells you’re buying have a good quality covering.
Quality paint on the surface of the bell is crucial to make sure it won’t chip over time. A cracked surface from the paint flaking off can cause your hand to get irritated due to the rough patches on the bell’s surface. NO BUENO.
Pay attention to the distance between the bell and handle.
Make sure that this gap matches your hand size because a lot of kettlebell exercises require you to flip the bell to the back of your hand. If it’s too big or too small, it will wreak havoc on your hand and wrist.
Working more muscles using kettlebells allows you to burn more calories. If you keep the intensity high, you will be able to shed fat fast and gain muscle. If you eat right and maintain the consistency of the workouts you’ll be lean, toned, and in no time. Not to mention, your metabolic rate will continue to increase and you’ll burn fat for hours after your workout. Now get out there and show the world what you’re made of!
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