8 Reasons to Train with Kettlebells

By: Mike Klaus RKC

kettlbell training, Turkish Get Up, Kettle swing

  1. Melt FatKettlebells are a great tool to burn fat and build muscle. A recent study showed that kettlebells are one of the most efficient training routines, burning up to 20.3cal/min. That is an incredible 1200 calories an hour! Talk about a lot of bang for your buck!
  2. Shape the Butt –Have you checked yourself out in the mirror lately and noticed a droopy or saggy butt? Kettlebells are great for giving you a lift. The kettlebell snatch, swing and clean are hip dominant movements that require explosiveness from your largest muscle, the gluteus maximus.
  3. No Time, No Problem! –There is no need to spend endless hours in the gym when using a kettlebell in order to see results. Kettlebell training is a high-intensity strength and cardio workout that forces the body to build muscle and burn fat fast. You can get a great kettlebell workout in as little as 15 minutes (including the warm up). You really can’t use time as an excuse with this type of training.
  4. Injury Prevention – Not only does kettlebell training build an armor like layer of muscle, but this form of training focuses more on movements. Bodybuilding focuses more on targeting singular muscles as opposed to groups of muscles. Because kettlebell training enhances movement efficiency, injuries are greatly reduced by fixing the compensations and imbalances in the body.
  5. Amp Up Your Power Output – Weekend warrior? Athlete? Who doesn’t want to lead their team (or league) in scoring, hit more home runs in their softball league, or drive a golf ball as far as Happy Gilmore? The explosive movements in Kettlebell training develop your fast twitch muscles which in turn helps you have a quicker reaction time. Many of the movements in kettlebell training cannot be performed slowly forcing you to develop a quality known as power-endurance. Power-endurance is your ability to sustain fast muscular contractions over an extended period of time. This is commonly the determining factor in winning or losing in sporting competitions.
  6. Eliminate Weaknesses –Your greatest strength may be your greatest weakness! Most people who train have a favorite muscle group like chest, biceps, or triceps that they tend to train more often. This leads to muscle groups in your body that are seldom used during training. With full body kettlebell exercises, you tend to train your major muscle groups more efficiently without isolation because smaller muscles throughout your body are engaged as well.  Once the weak parts of your body are strengthened, your workouts become much more effective.
  7. Mentally Stimulating – Bored to death jogging slowly on the hamster wheel? Do you find yourself “going through the motions” in the gym? A multiple movement kettlebell complex may be just what you need. Hit muscles you forgot you had by performing multiple movements quickly using one piece of equipment… the kettlebell!
  8. “Vice” Grip Strength –The weight of the kettlebell lies outside of your hand, unlike the traditional barbells and dumbbells, taxing your grip and developing greater forearm strength. The design of the kettlebell also adds another unique component to your grip training. Since the kettlebells center of gravity is usually in motion, your grip training becomes a combination of dynamic and static muscular contractions to help control the fluctuating center of mass. Why might you need grip strength? If you want to carry all the groceries in one trip or carry your luggage without dropping it, then you need grip strength. What if you never wanted to ask your spouse or kid to open a jar? You need grip strength.

Kettlebell Snatch: The Best Total Body Exercise

By Mike Klaus RKC, FMS

Kettlebell SnatchThe kettlebell snatch is the best total body exercise and my favorite kettlebell movement. There are few exercises that simultaneously increase your muscular strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health.  It requires explosive power as your hips thrust the kettlebell in the air. The movement starts as a one-arm kettlebell swing, but ends up overhead by way of swing, pull, press. Click here to see a video.

You can burn maximal calories with the snatch. The American Council of Exercise enlisted the help of John Porari Ph.D., Chad Schnettler M.S., Carl Foster Ph.D. and Mark Anders to look at the number of calories burned during a kettlebell workout as well as the how much of an aerobic workout kettlebells provide. In this study participants spent 20 minutes performing six kettlebell snatches in 15 seconds followed by a 15 second rest switching arms after each rest. After the 20-minute workout and a five-minute cool down, the number of calories burned aerobically and anaerobically was measured. It was determined that 20.2 calories were burned each minute. That is equivalent to running a 6-minute mile! And, unless you are running 6-minute miles or cross country skiing uphill at a fast pace, you won’t find an exercise to match that number of calories burned.

It is a great cardiovascular workout. The same study as above monitored heart rate of the participants as they completed the 20-minute workout. The mean percent heart rate for the participants was 93% of max heart rate.

Even a moderate weight adds up to a significant work load very quickly. Twenty snatches every minute with a 24kg (52.8lb) bell, standard for a male, adds up to 2400kg (5,280lbs) of load overhead in five minutes. In order to match this on the jerk press (another overhead movement), he would have to do 3 sets of 8 reps with 220 lbs. A 12kg (26.4 lbs) bell is a standard weight for a female performing a kettlebell snatch. If she did twenty snatches every minute with a 12kg (26.4lb) bell it would add up to 1,200kg (2,640 lbs). She would have to jerk press 110 pounds for 3 sets of 8 reps to match that total work load. As you can see the snatch can definitely make it easier to increase your work load.

It is easy on the joints. There is no pounding of the joints in a kettlebell snatch. Your feet remain on the ground the entire time. The weight is distributed over your core, arm, hips, and legs.

No time-no problem! Since the kettlebell snatch is a total body exercise and is so explosive, a quick 10 minute of snatches will leave you feeling like you got a great workout. If you burn 20.2 calories per minute with kettlebell snatches, you can finish your 10-minute workout having burned 202 calories. If you compare this to running at a pace of 5 miles per hour (12-minute mile) according to the Harvard Health Publications a 155 pound person would burn 99 calories in 10 minutes. That is less than half of the calories you would burn if you were snatching a kettlebell.

It forces your “inner athlete” to come out. Like nothing else, the snatch has proved to me that almost anybody can develop their fast twitch muscle fibers. Like its name suggests, fast twitch fibers are the ones we use to make quick movements. Moving explosively keeps you young; it keeps you active. For those who are not necessarily worried about power in respect to athletic performance, it can help with reaction time to prevent falls.

It’s a safe option for going overhead. Most people have limited overhead mobility. The snatch not only gives you a safe option to train overhead, but can also help correct poor movement patterns. When properly taught the swing, pull, push movement allows the kettlebell to go overhead without the grunting and grinding typically associated with pushing weight overhead.

As you can see there are many benefits to the kettlebell snatch. However, it does require proper technique and form. Please do not attempt to do a kettlebell snatch without instruction and supervision on good form. RKC Certified trainer Mike Klaus

would be happy to teach you proper form.  You can even attend his kettlebell classes where you can build muscle and burn fat doing the kettlebell snatch among other great kettlebell exercises.