Recently kettlebells have been getting a lot of attention in gyms around the country. Once just the odd looking things gathering dust next to the dumbbells (if they were even in the gym at all), these weights created by Russian weight lifters back in the 1700s are experiencing a resurgence and it turns out the attention is well deserved.
To see evidence of the effectiveness of kettlebells, you only need to look as far as the movie “300”. Sure, there’s some Hollywood magic highlighting those muscles, but Gerard Butler and those other Spartans still had to build excellent physiques for those special effects artists to spiff up, and they used kettlebells to help them do it. The “300” workout, and it’s kettlebell components were featured in Men’s Health magazine and other publications as men sought those muscular bodies and women either drooled or wanted hard bodies to rival the menfolk. If you look around, you’ll see the contestants on The Biggest Loser using kettlebells, and gyms are now offering classes for kettlebell workouts. Kettlebells aren’t just for actors and bodybuilders.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently took notice of the trend and enlisted researchers at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse Exercise and Health Program to take a hard look at what exactly a kettlebell workout can do for us. The ACE researchers found that a 20 minute kettlebell workout burnt the same amount of calories as running at a six-minute mile pace for the same amount of time. That’s about 20.2 calories per minute. If you’ve ever watched the calorie count on an elliptical machine or exercise bike, you know that’s a whole lot of calories in a small amount of time! The VO2 max and heart rate data was very impressive as well, suggesting that a kettlebell workout is more intense and vigorous than a standard weight training routine. Impressive! The workout performed by participants (10 men and women age 29-46 who were already familiar with kettlebell workouts) was made up entirely of repetitions of the kettlebell snatch.
The kettlebell snatch is a great, full body movement, a variation on the classic barbell snatch you’ve often seen performed by weightlifting champions in competition. The kettlebell snatch is a one-armed variation. Bodybuilding.com has an excellent video of the kettlebell snatch being performed so you can get an idea of what an intense movement it is and how to go about it. Still, I would suggest taking a class or consulting a trainer before performing the lift on your own.
If you want to add kettlebells to your workout routine, there are many resources beyond the “300” workout and the kettlebell snatch.ACE also has an excellent picture guide to a basic kettlebell workout to go with their study results. Finally, Bodybuilding.com also has a database of kettlebell exercises grouped by the body part or muscle targeted by each exercise, which is also fully searchable.
300 Workout: The Muscle Building Workout Used By The Cast Of The Movie : Men’s Health, Men’s Health
Kettlebells: Twice the Results in Half the Time?, Chad Schnettler, M.S., John Porcari, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D., with Mark Anders
Bodybuilding.com Videos – Kettlebell Snatch, Bodybuilding.com
Bodybuilding.com – Kettlebell Exercise Guides!, Bodybuilding.com