The kettlebell: an all-rounder for any workout
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- Posted in Accessories, Functional training, Strength Training
The kettlebell has been used for hundreds of years to train different muscle groups. It is impossible to imagine a gym without kettlebells, and it has found its way into many households so that people can train with a kettlebell whenever they want. But where does the kettlebell actually come from, what types are there and what exactly can you train with it?
What is a kettlebell?
A kettlebell looks a bit like a cannonball with a handle. It is a weight made of (mostly) cast iron, and most probably has its origins in Russia. There it was also called 'girya'. This is the name for a certain weight (precisely 16.38 kg) in Russian, mainly used for weighing the harvest.
These weights were later also used by the "strong men" in the circus, and at the end of the 19th century the girya was used for recreational workouts and strength competitions in Russia and Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, the English name 'kettle bell' (later spelled kettlebell) became more popular, although it is not entirely clear where the name came from.
What types of kettlebells are there?
Most kettlebells are still made of cast iron, but nowadays some are also made of other materials, such as PVC and steel. We will now list the different materials for you.
Cast iron kettlebellThe original kettlebell. Practically indestructible, but a bit rougher on the outside. If you put it on the ground frequently, it can damage your floor. Moreover, cast iron can rust.
Vinyl kettlebellThis is still a cast iron kettlebell, but with a vinyl outer layer. The vinyl outer layer is better for your floor (and your legs if you move the kettlebell too close to your body) and easier to clean. These kettlebells have an ergonomic shape so that they fit easier on your arm than a round kettlebell.
PVC kettlebellThis kettlebell is not made of cast iron but has a PVC exterior and a sand filling. It has a smooth surface - better for your floor - and is easy to clean. Moreover, a PVC kettlebell is budget-friendly. The disadvantage is that the outside can be damaged and the handle can become slippery due to sweat.
Steel kettlebellThese are the real competition kettlebells. They are cast in one piece and are extremely sturdy. They meet the required guidelines, such as a handle diameter of 33 cm, and thus they are suitable for professional competitions. Furthermore, all weights have the same dimensions. The disadvantage is that these kettlebells can also become slippery when you sweat. Moreover, you can get blisters when using them intensively.
What is the difference between a kettlebell and a dumbbell?
The most obvious difference between a kettlebell and a dumbbell is its appearance. A kettlebell is round with a handle so the centre of gravity is in one place. A dumbbell consists of two weights with a grip in the middle and therefore has the centre of gravity in two places. The weight distribution is therefore different from that of a kettlebell. When you train with a kettlebell, your body has to do its best to adapt to the movement you make. Thus, you can work more on coordination and stability.
Dumbbells are generally better for beginners. The exercises you perform with a dumbbell, such as curls, presses and rows, are usually more static and less explosive. Kettlebells are better if you choose a workout with more movement, like swings. You use multiple muscles and that requires good technique and control.
Which muscles to train with a kettlebell
Basically, you can train the whole body with a kettlebell. Training with a kettlebell helps to burn fat (lose weight), build muscle and train posture, coordination and balance. It is also a good cardio workout as your heart rate increases with intensive exercise.
There are dozens of exercises for training with a kettlebell that target different muscle groups, too many to mention here. Want to know what you can do with a kettlebell? Then download Tunturi Training! This free app contains various exercises with kettlebells along with hundreds of other workouts.
Here we will discuss the most well-known workout: the kettlebell swing. The kettlebell swing trains your core as well as your hips, glutes, shoulders and back muscles. It is therefore a real all-rounder that is also very easy to carry out. Please note that in this exercise you never use your arm muscles to raise or lower the kettlebell. All power comes from the lower body and the back.
1. Bend your knees slightly, tilt your upper body forward, push your buttocks back and keep your back straight. Hold the handle of the kettlebell with both hands.
2. You get up by pushing your hips forward quickly, your wrists touch the inside of your thighs and the kettlebell swings upwards by the force of the movement. Look straight ahead and tighten the core, buttock and leg muscles. When your arms are horizontal you have reached the top of the swing.
3. When the kettlebell reaches the top, bring the upper body forward again with a straight back and the buttocks backwards. The kettlebell will swing back down by itself.
Want more tips and challenging exercises for the kettlebell? Download the free Tunturi Training app. Are you excited about the kettlebell? Then take a look at our range and find the kettlebell that suits your training goals!