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What the Hell is a Kettlebell?

February 8, 2009

A kettlebell looks like a bowling ball or cannon ball with a handle on it. It can be used for a variety of exercises. If you can do it with a dumbell, you can do it with a kettlebell. But, it’s more fun with a kettlebell. Swinging a dumbell is just not as exciting.

Renegade Rows are pretty popular. That is when you are in push up position with one or both hands on a kettlebell handle. Then you row one (preferably the one with the kettlebell) toward you. Like rowing a dumbell, only more fun!

The basics of kettlebelling are the swing and the get up. The swing is pretty much self explanatory, you swing the bell. Traditional kettlebelling swings the bell up to about where you’re staring it down, so eye height-ish. In the cross fit world, you swing it overhead. For a beginner, go traditional. You use your hips to generate the momentum of the bell, not the arms. The arms are just there to hold it from flying away. The hips should be snapping forward to do the work. Your arms will get enough of a workout just holding the bell from flying at the wall or the person in front of you.

The get up is what it is, getting up. You have the bell next to you as you lay flat on the floor. Use both hands to put the bell in rack position and then with the one arm press the bell up toward the ceiling (like a bench press, just with the one arm). Then bend the leg on the side of the up arm and bend the opposite arm underneath you. I use my leg to push toward my down elbow so I can adjust my weight enough to be able to get myself in a half sit up position. Then I extend my down arm. The up arm is still holding the kettlebell toward the ceiling. Then I bring my straight leg in toward my butt, it’s then underneath my bent leg. I push forward and roll over my shin to get myself into a half kneeling position (like the position you’d be in if you were proposing). From there, lift to stand. Then reverse. Lower bell using both hands, use both hands to bring it to the other side, use both hands to rack on the other side, and repeat the get up.

During the get-up, you should be looking at the bell at all times. Do not drop it on your face. That would hurt. If you’re going to loose the bell, try to loose it in an arc going either across your body or down toward your legs. If you loose the bell in an arc going out to the side and slightly backward, that is the perfect position to dislocate your shoulder anteriorly. I’ve not heard that it’s ever happened, but I did loose the bell the first time I went to a larger side. I arced it across myself and to the floor while I was in the half sit up position.

Now, after all this you might be saying, why the hell are they calling it a bell? Isn’t it a ball?

Well, yes, it is a ball most of the time now. But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the beggining of the kettlebell, they were all the same size. Now if you have a 44lb kettlebell the same size as an 18lb kettlebell, how would that work? What they did was hollow out the inside of the kettlebell to make the weight less but the outward appearance of the bell the same size and shape. That is how it became the bell and not the ball.

Please post any questions below and I’ll try to answer them. I am not a kettlebell trainer or anything, just someone who likes to use them!

And remember, I need suggestions for names for my small bell, the 8kg. Visit here to suggest a name! Thanks 🙂

Now when someone asks “What the hell is a kettlebell?” You’ve got the answers :).

3 Comments leave one →
  1. ladlam permalink
    February 8, 2009 10:43 PM

    Wow, your post is much more detailed than mine 😀
    Good info, I never knew they used to hollow out the bells!

  2. February 9, 2009 5:55 PM

    I did a search on kettlebells a while back and found that out. I always wondered before that why they were called bells! Drove me nuts :).


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