Ever since I stumbled across Josh Hanagarne’s World’s Strongest Librarian blog, I’ve been intrigued by kettlebells. They just looked so much cooler than traditional dumbbells and free weights.
I mean, it’s way more badass to sling around a cannonball with a handle than to curl a bench-press a barbell.
Now, before I go any further, I want to address something: There’s a lot of cultish behavior out there regarding kettlebells, lifting, and weights (and even among running versus other cardio routines), and there’s a lot of contention that if you want to get fit and in-shape, you OMG MUST USE _____ AND NOTHING ELSE.
In this regard, kettlebells are just a tool. Like any other exercise, they will make you better at one thing: doing that exercise. Running makes you a better runner, swimming makes you a better swimmer, and lifting kettlebells makes you better at–you guessed it–lifting kettlebells.
They’re not a magic bullet. They’re no different in terms of routine and training and overall fitness than a set of dummbells or a Bowflex. Your body will adapt to whatever you’re doing, and general fitness will come from any training routine.
It just so happens that kettlebells take the monotony out of weight lifting for me because they’re so dynamic.
Now, before this very moment, I had three problems with kettlebells:
- They’re expensive.
- They’re dangerous.
- I hate weights.
But I’ve finally hit that point in my training where I need to start really focusing on something other than straight cardio, I figured, I might as well suck it up and get a kettlebell.
Issue #1: Price
A good, professional-quality kettlebell will run you anywhere between $60 and $200. Most people recommend Dragon Door equipment, but honestly, as I just get my feet wet, I don’t want that kind of investment.
Most people recommend newbie guys starting at a 16kg (35lb) kettlebell. Those are also more expensive. The cheapest I was able to find was around $80.
So when I saw one at Walmart that weighed 25lb for just $39, I figured…why the hell not? I don’t know what I’m doing, so a lighter weight might be better. Especially since I have no real history of weight training beyond 25lb dumbbells I have in my floor that collect dust most of the time.
The main issue here, though, is as I work up in strength, I will have to buy more kettlebells of higher weights. So while it’s not a complete non-issue, at least I was able to delay the major investment until I see whether or not I am going to stick with this training.
Issue #2: Danger
Kettlebells aren’t designed for indoor use. Watch any video of a kettlebell swing, and you’ll realize why we newbies shouldn’t do it in front of our TV sets. And if you’re doing a swing and grab, then you’re just asking for trouble.
And in Tennessee, it gets hot in the summer. Hot and humid. Until very recently, I didn’t like being outside in it at all. And without a gym membership (the local gym here didn’t have kettlebells, anyway), I didn’t have an air conditioned place to train. And with asthma and 90+% humidity, I kind of like the indoors.
On this point, I decided to suck it up and do it outside in my back yard. It wasn’t so bad, and it was actually kind of fun. But man, was it hot. At least I don’t have to worry about breaking anything but myself and the dirt this way, though.
Issue #3: Do You Even Lift?
No. No, I don’t. I hate it.
For me, the stop-and-go nature of weight training bores me to tears. Even with a good workout mix, I just don’t have fun lifting and doing reps of various weights. I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself because everything lasts for just a few seconds.
I have dumbbells that I spend some time with, but I hate doing traditional curls and presses and rows. Even when I was doing P90X, which was pretty dynamic, it was still on-again/off-again because of the nature of it.
You stand still. You pick something up. You put something down.
What really intrigues me about kettlebells, though, is that’s not how they work. Sure, you’re still picking up something heavy, but the form is way more dynamic. Between cleans and swings and snatches and grabs, I’m always moving.
I’m not just standing there and isolating a particular part of my body. I’m doing longer sets that work multiple muscle groups at once. It helps break the monotony and makes me excited to get back to doing it again, which is something I’ve never felt regarding weight training.
Yay for Kettlebells!
I’ve only done one day of kettlebell training so far. And it kicked my ass pretty hard. I do look forward to it, though, because I can see it becoming something I really enjoy.
If you’re thinking about trying kettlebells, too, just remember they’re not the be-all, end-all that some people make them out to be. You’ll get stronger and leaner using them just like any other weight. But if you’re like me, the dynamic nature of the kettlebell training might not make you want to smash your face in on purpose the way other weight lifting can.