I had my first Kettlebell workout Saturday and, though it was brief, I think I can definitely see how these things will be of benefit to me. I read over Pavel Tsatsouline’s The Russian Kettlebell Challenge and basically did a set of two of each exercise to get the feel for it and to try out the techniques. There are only a few basic exercises (although you can also incorporate normal lifts into your routine if you like)- swing, clean, snatch, military press and floor press. There’s also a side and bent press but I haven’t been able to master them yet. At this point, I’m happy enough with these. Though the KB itself felt pretty heavy at first, I think that’s a lot to do with the shape- after doing a few practice lifts, it now feels a lot less of a burden.
The key to KB training seems to be high rep lifts. Pavel doesn’t recommend the usual bodybuilding approach of training to failure and I’m happy enough with that while I experiment with this system to see its effects. His aim is not to build muscle but rather strength-endurance (which means it is ideal for those in the military). And believe me, these whole body compound moves will definitely build strength while the moderate weight of the KB enables higher reps. That’s not to say that the KB is easy to lift, it’s not. One other aspect of this sort of training is that it’s supposed to strengthen not just the muscles but the tendons and ligaments. After Saturday’s mini-workout I could definitely feel my wrist and elbows joints- they weren’t sore, but I could tell the joints had been worked. Sunday they felt fine. My forearms were also aching a little because hanging on to the KB as you swing it gives you a tremendous grip workout.
I’m going to try a full workout with the KB later today- you can use two but one is all that is required (and personally I think that using one adds a bit more effort to the moves as you have to work to balance yourself out). It’s a very compact home-gym system. Hopefully I’ll still be fit to type tomorrow and will report back on it. Apart from anything else, working with the KB is fun- a great change from barbells and dumbbells.