Exercise, Exercise, Health & Fitness

The Beauty of Kettebells

fitness, kettlebells, workout, functional

NOTE:  Forty Cakes is going through some changes and I am so excited to be working with my good friend Trudy to add more content on fitness and health on a more consistent basis.  We plan to unveil our official new site in early June (with lots of surprises!) but you will see posts from her this month as well.  Enjoy this post from Trudy!  

When I started working out with kettlebells several years back, they were still relatively “new” and potentially faddish.   I was actually introduced to this funny-looking cannon-ball-with-a-handle through an exercise video.  Being an exercise video junkie, I was always looking for new and exciting ways to workout at home.  Enter the kettlebell.  Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what to think.  But I started researching kettlebell form online and eventually purchased additional kettlebell videos.  Before I knew it, I was hooked.

Fast forward to the present… I am still hooked on these crazy cast iron weights.   When I can’t make it to the gym for a regular strength workout, I will gladly substitute a kettlebell video at home.  Or a kettlebell workout, sans video.  Even at the gym I tend to favor a kettlebell for certain (but not all) strength exercises over a standard dumbbell.

kettlebell workout, fitness

 What is it about kettlebells that I love so much?

1.    There is something inherently FUN about working out with a kettlebell.

I don’t know what it is.  But it IS!   Maybe it’s the feeling of living on the edge while I’m swinging a heavy weight over my head… channeling my inner dare devil.

2.    Kettlebells make me feel STRONG.

Because many kettlebell exercises are ballistic movements, I can use much heavier weights than with traditional strength training.  I feel like I can kick some serious BUTT when I am doing a kettlebell workout.  Kicking butt = fun.  (see #1)

3.    Kettlebells are an EFFICIENT way to work out.

Look.  Let’s face it.  I don’t have the patience to spend hours in the gym.  I’ve got places to go and people to see.  And yummy food to eat.  I am all about efficiency.  So if you tell me I can get an incredible STRENGTH and CARDIO workout in one 20 minute session… ummm… Yes, please!

4.    Kettlebells promote FUNCTIONAL fitness

While the phrase “functional fitness” also seems a bit faddish, there really is something to it.  The movement patterns of many kettlebell exercises follow everyday movements.  Training with a kettlebell can not only sculpt your body, but prepare you for everyday challenges like… picking up your 42 pound child!  Not to mention, some of the movements promote flexibility as well.

5.    TOTAL BODY Workout

This ties back into #3, but I am a big fan of the full-body workout in a single session.  You almost can’t help but work your entire body with kettlebells, especially if you are incorporating traditional exercises such as swings, cleans, snatches, etc.  Certainly you can use kettlebells to work muscle groups in isolation, much like a dumbbell, but their superiority lies in the full-body integration movements.


As much as I do love my kettlebells, there are some downsides.  For one, no one should ever attempt kettlebell exercises without some solid instruction on form.  It is so easy to get injured.  I’ve often envisioned dropping a 25 or 30 pound kettlebell on my head in the middle of a workout.  Not a pretty vision.  If you can’t train with a certified trainer in your area, there are some great YouTube videos, as well as DVD’s that you can purchase.  Just make sure the instructor is truly qualified to demonstrate form.  I highly recommend Lauren Brooks of On The Edge Fitness or Anthony DiLuglio of Art of Strength Fitness.  Both demonstrate incredible form and are highly regarded in the kettlebell world.

Another downside: kettlebells are not cheap.  If you are purchasing them for use at home, prepare to spend some $$$.  Lately I have made it my goal to purchase one kettlebell per month as I am trying to add some heavier kettlebells to my collection.

Kettlebells serve as one weapon in my arsenal to combat fat and increase strength as I journey through my mid to  **cough**  late 30’s,  While they may serve as my favorite weapon, kettlebells are certainly not my only weapon.  I do like variety.  I still enjoy traditional strength training with barbells and dumbbells.  Or even body weight training.  Traditional strength training focuses more on concentrated movements (single or multi-joint) absent momentum, while kettlebells focus on using momentum.  I think it’s best to work your body in a variety ways such that you keep things moving and never get bored!

Photo Credits: Jason Carlin, Tomas Ottoson, and Lorant Dankahazi