Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Come a little closer and I'll tell you the secret behind Kettlebells

Kettlebells are a great tool, but since the explosion of the kettlebell cults, dumbbells have taken a backseat in training. Funny, but no one ever takes a picture with a dumbbell, yet I see more shots every day of people carrying a kettlebell like it was his or her first-born.

I have nothing against kettlebells and use them in my training. I just wonder if the KB explosion would've ever happened without the Internet? Kettlebell shirts, kettlebell necklaces...

Poor dumbbells, I'll miss them.

Martin Rooney

You won't miss them for long, Martin. Pretty soon, someone, 15 years from now, will resurrect dumbbells as a long-lost training secret! Then, you'll feel even cooler knowing that you were ahead of the curve, doing DB's before they were cool! Hell, you'll have one even better: you'll have the training secrets behind dumbbells! Then, you're a millionaire!

Yeah, I jumped on the KB bandwagon almost two years ago myself, working out with them pretty steadily since. I have a practical consideration for my choice since I work out in low ceilings that really put a pinch on what I can press overhead with. Otherwise, I like working out with them.

They're kind of awkward.

Actually, that might be a significant and that might be a practical reason, outside of some legendary marketing, why they caught on. I've heard a lot about their history and a few explanations as to why they died out. Since that part is a little vague, I'm going to take the liberty of assuming that they died out because they were awkward, and therefore limited the amount of weight that could be lifted. If you could say one thing about strength training equipment, or fitness equipment in general, is that for a while (and in a way), it evolved to make training with it easier. Easier, that is, to move more weight. Most everything that's come out was geared to make it as easy as possible to move the most amount of metal.

Kettlebells turned out to be the first major reversal of that trend in the past half-century. If anything, equipment seems to have gone from high tech and machine- oriented to simple and odd.

Now, the one thing that kind of annoys me isn't the tool itself but the insanely cultish methodology that's caked up around them. As far as I'm concerned, there is no "kettlebell training." Just about everything that can be done with one can be done with a dumbbell. Maybe it's not the same feel, but frankly people need to stop being so damn picky. There's still a workout to be done there!

So, I understand the irritation surrounding the KB but that doesn't mean that the cult's methodology taints the tool irrepairably. Just because they don't go much over 100 lbs and everyone's doing strength-endurance style workouts doesn't mean that other, more sexy strength can't be built. After all, it's an odd-shaped object. It doesn't need to be heavy to make you strong! Find a different way to lift it, that's all!

So, yeah, they're awkward. That's cool. They might be your thing. If they are, then have fun with them and get some good work done! It's like every other tool that you can use to get into shape: it's what you put into it that gets the work done.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE my kettlebells! But I'll be the first to admit that it isn't the implement to replace all others, or forms of training, especially my beloved BW training.

I really like it's shape and variety of drills that can be done with it. Especially the ballistic stuff. Some of the drills simply cannot be done the same way with DB's.

But like I said above, they simply aren't the "be all" they make them out to be.


Alex said...

Kettlebells might have been relatively rare in the West, but they were always big in the areas formerly belonging to the Russian Empire/Soviet Union. That's where they come from, afterall.

Justin_PS said...

Most likely, Kettlebells really came from Scotland.