Kettlebell Training: Could This Be The Workout For You?

Kettlebell training is a form of exercise that is rapidly gaining popularity. I’ve been hearing the buzz from all the right places including The North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapywhich cites numerous potential applications for kettlebells in both rehabilitative and conditioning training.1

Out of curiosity for both myself and my patients, I posed a few questions to Delaine Ross, Owner of Atlanta’s Condition Kettlebell Gym and author of Train With Delaine Vol. 1: Perfecting the Kettlebell Swing and Get-Up.

(Guys, if you read my recent post covering 3 top men’s health issues you know that getting up and moving is a must if you are seeking optimal health. Kettlebells may be a great fit for you, even if you “don’t have time”.)

1. How long have kettlebells been around?

Kettlebells originated in Russia in the 1600’s.  Members of the Russian army needed a portable way to train when they went from camp to camp.

2. How would you best categorize this form of exercise – interval training, strength training, cardio, something else?

Strength, cardio and mobility all at the same time.

3. Can you briefly describe a typical session?

We warm up with primitive movement exercises such as breathing, rocking, rolling, and crawling then we perform 3-5 Turkish Get-ups per side and then 3 rounds of 8 exercises 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off.

4. How do kettlebells develop the muscles?

Kettlebells train the body as a unit, developing long lean muscles instead of bulky ones.

5. How athletic does someone need to be before coming to a class?

Our bells range from 4kg to 48kg so we meet you where you are. My youngest student is 12 and oldest os 89.

6. Who do you think might benefit from kettlebell training?

Anyone who can perform the movements without pain would benefit from kettlebell training.

7. Do instructors modify the exercises for people with different abilities/needs?

Absolutely – and sometimes the modification is just a lighter weight.

8. What is the difference between a Russian and American kettlebell workout?

Russian Kettlebell (also known as “Hardstyle”) is more like sprinting and American Kettlebell style is more like a marathon.  In our Russian kettlebells we use a lot of tension over relatively short periods of time, training for power.  In American Kettlebells they try to conserve energy and go for very long periods of time.

9. What benefits do kettlebells have that can’t be found in a standard treadmill/weights workout?

Because kettlebell training offers strength, cardio, and mobility at the same time, it gets the job done much faster than separating your workouts.

10. What is your story Delaine? What got you into kettlebells?

When I found kettlebell training, I had no desire to become a fitness instructor, much less a gym owner. I was living in San Diego and working in the construction industry with 5AM – 5PM hours and no free time. I realized I would be doing a lot of sitting during the day (a change from the lifestyle I had waiting tables and on the dance team in college) so I started going to a large commercial gym, two hours a day, six days a week. With my work hours that schedule just wasn’t sustainable.

I also bought several books on general fitness but they all seemed to contradict each other. I kept doing what I was doing because I thought I was “supposed to” but it didn’t make any sense. I wasn’t picking things up the way I did in everyday life. And the ground didn’t move outside when I ran on it, why would it do so in the gym?

One day on the way to work, I heard the local radio deejays talking about an ancient Russian weightlifting tool for training strength, cardio, and mobility all at the same time. It was a type of training you could get great results from by only training 45 minutes three times a week. This was too good to be true, but it was interesting enough for me to Google. I found Sarah Lurie’s gym Iron Core and Brett Jones, now a Master SFG. I immediately knew he was different from the trainers I had met at all of the other gyms I’d ever set foot in. He put me through a quick swing workout and I was hooked immediately. It was like heavens opened up and the answer appeared, “Pick up heavy things and you get strong.” Who knew?

Nine months later I did the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) and never, ever looked back. One year later I opened my own gym and stayed heavily involved in the RKC community through assisting at certifications, completing the Level 2 and CK-FMS certs, and later being promoted to the leadership team who teaches these certs. When Pavel separated from the RKC, I followed him to Strong First and am now one of their Senior instructors.

Thank you Delaine!

What about you? Have you ever tried kettlebells? Are you intrigued? I am!