Kettlebells, which originated in Russia, are heavy cast iron balls with a handle that are used by athletes for functional strength development and by fitness enthusiasts for training variety. The design of the kettlebell makes it unique because when you grip the handle, the weight is displaced differently when compared to that of a KB. This weight displacement makes you work harder to control the movement by counterbalancing and control the handle by gripping it at different angles of movement. The size and shape of the kettlebell varies (depending on the manufacturer) in handle shape, thickness and bell density and size, which in turn challenges the body and technique requirements in many ways. Sizes start from around 4kg (8 pounds) and increase in 4kg increments with beginners using 4kg-16kg KB and more advanced athletes using KBs that are 20kg to 60kg or more
Kettlebell training aims to develop strength through all planes of movement. Because the kettlebell aligns with the body's center of gravity, the athlete must work harder to balance and stabilize the weight throughout all movement patterns. This requires a strong contribution from the muscles of the arm, shoulder and core region. Along with this comes improvement in strength, power and body awareness for better muscle control by addressing both acceleration and deceleration of movement. Best of all, the challenging nature of kettlebell training works the whole body, making exercise fun and rewarding!
The general strength preparation phase is based on a diverse range of strength movement exercises using kettlebells that aim to improve muscle coordination and endurance, neural adaptation and body awareness. The main exercises provided in Stage 1 involve individual isolated exercises, as well as compound movement exercises that target multiple muscle groups. This stage includes exercise instruction in technique and breathing for increasing body awareness and maximizing muscular strength, endurance and kettlebell control.
The swing pattern provides the foundation for ongoing kettlebell development. Swing movements are distinctive drills that separate kettlebell training from any other strength-based exercises. Correct technique and technical progressions allow the body to increase neuromuscular firing patterns, which improves strength, coordination and timing throughout the whole body.
As one improves general strength and masters the swing pattern, this stage provides the foundation for more complex, functional-based exercises to be performed, which further challenges strength, timing and neuromuscular coordination. At this stage, you won't need laser eye surgery to see the difference in your physique. Due to the complexity and muscular counterbalance required to control each movement, the aim is to start light and build muscular endurance before increasing the kettlebell weight. As movement function and control improve, the kettlebell weight is increased, as well as the repetitions (or time) and sets to heighten the challenge, with quality of movement (over quantity) the main objective at all times.
After improving general strength and mastering the swing patterns and more complex kettlebell exercises, your body will have developed the essential core strength, coordination and timing (in addition to rewiring the strength of the neuromuscular framework throughout the body) for more advanced, full-body power-based technical drills. Here we concentrate on exercises that link two or more strength foundation exercises together to form a part or sequence of a simulated Olympic-lifting style movement using kettlebells, which generates a high level of speed, force and power. The objective here is to never sacrifice lifting technique for a heavier KB weight and to ensure that strength and functional movement patterns are in place prior to implementation. This is essential for building correct technique, muscular coordination and developing the timing of more powerful lifts along with the continual adaptation of the neuromuscular framework as part of a power progression using submaximal KB loads for mastering technique before increasing KB loads.
Every exercise has a number of key elements to consider when setting up and performing a movement. Applying correct technique from the onset will help establish good form, which is ultimately maintained until the repetitions or set is completed.