Christmas Day, 2011. It was the first ever Christmas together for my wife and me. Social engineers let it go, it’s not part of any of my passwords. Beneath the tree were two distinctly gift-wrapped packages, both were eggs with big handles attached to them and according to my wife the most pain in the @ss gift to have ordered via the mail. A 35- and 53-pound kettlebell from Rogue Fitness. A near decade later they remain a foundational element of my home gym. They traveled with me in a conex box to the Mojave Desert and got dragged around for squad PT in the sand. They came with me to get some lunchtime work in at the police academy in parking lots. Discounting some minor scuffs and an endearing rust-patina they are in like-new conditions. So, allow me to dive into why if you’re considering your first $35 to $75 purchase for yourself and your fitness journey, the answer is always Miat- no, wait, kettlebell. Yeah, kettlebells: the cast-iron skillet of the home gamer athlete.
Figure 1 Left is an Ader brand formerly the workhorse of Rogue Fitness. A decade old, multiple moves, and well-seasoned.
Dynamic explosiveness integrates to most fitness goals.
Kettlebell exercises are compound movements requiring use of anaerobic and aerobic systems. Athletic science dogma and paradigms being what they are, including weight in your programming and work brings more benefit. Want to sweat to drop weight? Want to sweat to gain definition/muscle? Open up your mobility? Improve balance? Increase performance in specialized applications (biking, swimming, any kind of sport, really)? Kettlebells are a “fitness multiplier”, they will introduce a variety of approaches to meeting your goals in movements and sets/reps.
At home footprint/storage/transport
The storage of fitness equipment is an underappreciated facet and factor in purchasing decisions. Often purpose is the driving and sole factor of a purchase decision and space is afforded after the fact because it’s a constraint opposed to lack of space being a non-issue. “Do I have the space for this?” is a question with an obvious answer. For the same dimensional space given to a pair of shoes you can have a pair of kettlebells.
Kettlebells are happy to be kept in all kinds of environments. Cold and wet, hot and wet, and every dry clime in between. As far as upkeep, dings and scratches where a coating has chipped and the faced bottom may collect rust if left unattended for a time in a wet space but a stiff bristled brush, soap, and a drop of oil or two and you’ve just restored a timeless dojo heirloom. Or an office dojo. As of this writing, the only office manager likely to raise concern with you swinging or pushing a ball of iron will be your better half while you grab a quick set in between zoom meetings. Even in a return to cubicles, a kettlebell is a great piece of office furniture.
For the go-getter, if you’ve got a spare footwell in a car you’ve got space for a pair of kettlebells. Travel to your favorite park, parking lot during the lunch break, or meet up with a friend at their place and you’ve BYOKB’d.
Scales so well you’d think it should have gills
Beginners and established athletes alike can take advantage of the physics of kettlebells. With familiarity of exercises comes exploitation of technique and an increase in physical capability. A heavier ‘bell can develop explosiveness by discounting repetitions with a restriction on time or increase in sets. Conversely, lessen the weight for more aerobic efforts.
Where kettlebells shine is their low impact on the user. There’s an amount of exertion brought on which isn’t defeating or damaging, given due pragmatism to abilities and situation. In most cases a kettlebell addition to an exercise completed with a free range of movement is a safe decision. Adding a kettlebell to a regular plyometric exercise now adds a safe weight factor. Air squats are now goblet squats and have more bite. Burpees with a kettlebell swing standing in for the jump make burpees… burpee-ier. Walking and split lunges get some extra zip into your thigh burn.
Incorporating kettlebells into any level of Metcon, agility, or just a solo tabata is a recipe for a great workout.
The exercise library is diverse, versatile, functional, and deep.
Want to improve your core gymnastic skills? Do a Turkish getup development for 20 minutes. Want to jump further or higher? Push jerks or make it a clean and jerk. Feeling extra spunky and hit both arms at the same time. If there’s a barbell exercise you want to improve on there’s a kettlebell equivalent, you can hit for some filling out of your technique. Fast simple movements like the bread ‘n butter swing or low n slow like TGU bring user’s choice of development in simple piece of equipment, no moving parts.
Figure 2 The KB on the right is a Christians Fitness Factory 16 Kg model. The glossy coating has a good hardness but can wear overtime. Looks like character to me.
Pound for pound, pood for pood value is hard to beat
So, this writeup has got you amped up and you want your kettlebell right here, right now and get to swinging. There’s a handle-d piece of iron out there for you. These prices are for a 35 pound kettlebell.
Level: I want to see what it’s about, first
Seller/brand: Walmart Weider brand
A “hammertone” finish is surprisingly durable for the seller and if in stock you’re driving home with it today ($43)
Level: I am going to commit to this program
Seller/Brand: Rogue Kettlebell (unfinished and E coated)
The powder coat finish isn’t rust-proof but it creates a more rugged feeling piece of equipment. Made in America and the color band is a nice touch. There is a sealed version which costs the same but you’ll can just slap on your own electrical tape ($55)
Level: As long as it looks cool, IDC
Seller/Brankd: Onnit Skull Kettlebells
Onnit is a premium fitness provider and these themed Legend, Galaxy Heroes, and “basic” 'bells will outlast the building you’re in ($85)