How Kettlebells Transform Your Workout

The decidedly simple kettlebell is an essential piece of gym equipment. Learn how you can begin to incorporate them into your fitness routine.

SO, WHAT IS A KETTLEBELL? 

Kettlebells are weighted balls, made of castiron or steel, affixed with a handle. They sort of look like small cannonballs.

They were developed in 18th century Russia, where they’re called “girya.” At first, they were used primarily for weighing crops, but they soon became a fixture in weightlifting competitions throughout Europe.

Today, kettlebells are used the world over for strength, cardio and flexibility training. Plus, they’re an easy-to-incorporate fitness tool for your home gym.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A KETTLEBELL AND A DUMBBELL?

To put it plainly, they’re shaped differently.

Traditional dumbbells have an equal distribution of weight. But kettlebells, with their offset handle, have a center of gravity positioned away from your hand. This asymmetrical design makes them more difficult to handle, which can make your workout more effective.

The unique shape of a kettlebell is great for swing-and-release movements that can work multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

WHAT PARTS OF THE BODY DO THEY WORK?

A traditional kettlebell swing can work the hips, hamstrings, lats, abs, glutes, pecs and shoulders.

HOW DO YOU BUY THEM?

We like to think there’s a kettlebell out there for everyone.

You can buy competition-grade kettlebells, which are made of steel rather than castiron. The size of regulation kettlebells remains the same, though weight can differ greatly.

Recreational kettlebells come in a variety of sizes and weights. Many come with a rubberized covering and textured handle—details that provide comfort during use. “Contoured” kettlebells are designed to better accommodate forearm movement. Recreational kettlebells also tend to have larger handles than their competition-grade counterparts, mainly for easier handling.