The Kettlebell Fitness Craze
Kettlebells are one of the hottest new fitness trends, but there’s actually nothing new about them. The weighted balls with handles were originally used in Russia during the 1700s, reportedly as a weight to measure grains and other goods. I have recently been introduced to the kettlebell fitness craze at the gym and I decided to do some research.
During festivals, vendors started to swing the kettlebells to show their strength, and from there perhaps the first kettlebell workouts were born.
Today everyone from professional athletes to Hollywood celebrities and fitness buffs are embracing this “workout of all workouts,” most likely because they’ve discovered it’s a phenomenal way to build muscle, stamina, and cardio fitness all wrapped up into one intense workout. I have recently used the kettlebell at my gym and found it to be an amazing cardiovascular workout and tool to strengthen my back, core, and extremities. My legs are still sore from a workout three days prior!
Unlike lifting a dumbbell, which keeps your center of gravity fixed, kettlebells incorporate movements that throw off your center of gravity and use your core muscles to keep you balanced.
The end result is a dynamic, whole-body exercise routine that incorporates cardiovascular, resistance, and range-of-motion training into one workout. As Men’s Fitness reported:
“ … kettlebells are versatile. They're ideal for explosive exercises that work major muscles, burn body fat, and build power, but they also add a new dimension to classic moves like chest presses and flys. And you don't need a wall-length rack of them to get a great workout.
One pair will suffice for this routine. Use them regularly and you'll see the body you've always wanted.”
One of the Highest Calorie-Burning Workouts There Is
In one study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE),3 participants were able to burn calories ‘off the charts’ when they used kettlebells in a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format, which allows you to get an intense workout in a short amount of time.
They used 10 volunteers, ranging in age from 29 to 46, who were experienced with kettlebells, and asked them to do a workout consisting of swinging a kettlebell one-handed between their legs and over their head in what’s known as a “snatch” motion. The 20-minute interval workout entailed:4
“Following a basic warm-up, subjects did 15 seconds of one-armed snatches, first with their dominant hand, then after a 15-second rest period, they performed another 15 seconds of snatches with the other hand.
The workout continued like that, with intervals of 15 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest, for 20 minutes, followed by a five-minute cool-down.”
During the workout, participants burned an average of 13.6 calories per minute aerobically, plus another 6.6 calories per minute anaerobically.
“So they were burning at least 20.2 calories per minute, which is off the charts. That’s equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace. The only other thing I could find that burns that many calories is cross-country skiing up hill at a fast pace,” said the study’s lead researcher, John Porcari, Ph.D.
Do You Have 20 Minutes to Improve Your Back Health and Muscle Strength, and Reduce Pain?
Among the benefits you can expect to experience after several weeks of regular workouts include:
- Enhanced back health and function5
- Improvements in muscle strength- including both maximum and explosive strength6
- Improvements to postural reactions to sudden movements, which might, for instance, help you avoid a low back injury if you fall or jerk suddenly
- Among those with musculoskeletal pain, reductions in pain in your neck, shoulders, and low back7
These benefits are possible because a kettlebell workout will not only help improve your aerobic capacity, it will also provide an anaerobic workout, which is important for your cardiovascular system as well as for building strength, speed and muscle mass. When doing high-intensity anaerobic exercises, you can literally be done in about 20 minutes, compared to spending an hour running on the treadmill during a typical aerobic workout.
Best of all, you can do kettlebell workouts virtually anywhere, once you learn a few basic moves. If you’re just starting out, proper form and technique are essential to avoiding injury. It’s a good idea to spend an hour or so with a personal trainer to learn the correct movements, or do so by enrolling in a beginner group class. If you need help finding a trainer or gym please call or e-mail me and I can point you in the right direction. While you’re still learning the ropes, women will generally want to start with a kettlebell weighing no more than 8-15 pounds, while men can typically start with a 15- to 25-pound version.
Remember to keep your regular appointments for adjustments to prevent injury and improve function. If you are new to chiropractic or know someone who could benefit from chiropractic care, please join me November 12th at 5:00PM at Dynamic Life Chiropractic to learn how chiropractic can benefit you and improve your workout performance! 636-887-3400
Dr. Kristin Gaines Porlier