Sunday, January 15, 2006

Kettlebell Update

As some long time readers may know I am a big fan of kettlebell training. For those of you who aren't familiar, a kettlebell resembles a cannonball with a handle on top. A Russian device, the kettlebell is used in a unique form of strength training involving predominantly ballistic movements. I first got interested because I suffer from a bad back- an injury some years ago has developed into arthritis. I've tried all sorts of things to try and help myself (Western medical technology having progressed only so far as "take these painkillers"). Thus far, only kettlebell training is helping.

I started off in Christmas 2004 with a 16kg (35lbs) KB. I quickly found it to be an effective and enjoyable alternative to lifting weights and doing cardio. Unfortunately my health deteriorated somewhat during 2005 and I had to give up virtually all physical activity- until around October. And as I started to feel a little better I started back to work with the KB. In the space of a little over a month I dropped about a stone in weight. Fast results- and bear in mind that I have to take it relatively easy while training.

Just before December was out I decided to switch up to my 32kg (70lbs) KB. There are intermediate weights available but I was on a pretty tight budget when I bought them and my male ego demanded I go for the bigger weight. It's only when you heft a cast iron ball weighing 70lbs in one hand that you realise just how heavy it really is!

Anyway, this is a seriously heavy item and I wasn't strong enough to lift it straight away so I began by doing small sets of two-handed swings and butt-to-ground squats with the KB. After a week of this my strength had developed enough for me to add the one-handed clean to the routine. In the past few days I've added one-handed swings too. It's not a big workout- I'm doing sets of between 3 and 5 reps and between two and five sets of each exercise.

Since the beginning of January I've dropped 2% bodyfat and added 5lbs of muscle- not bad going for a guy with a knackered back. Within the week I hope to add the snatch or the clean and jerk.

Kettlebell is by far the most effective form of exercise I've ever done- and if I can do it, anyone can.

3 comments:

3Ply Stagliano said...

Where did you get your kettlebells from and how much were they, including shipping? They seem intriguing.

Oh, and good luck getting the snatch within the week. If they're capable of that, I'll definitely have to get some. I'm still stuck on the clean and jerk. Well, it's more jerk than clean. In fact, it's downright dirty. Sorry about that. I'm very juvenile. Just be glad it wasn't (American) football. All that 'tight end'/'wide receiver'/'pushing it through the A hole' stuff is much greater scope.

Jay.Mac said...

Kettlebells are horrendously overpriced here in the UK. I got mine from Powerseekers.com, and that was the best price I could find here. Of course they're much cheaper in the US but shipping negates any saving!

A full set offers the best saving but unless you know you're definately going to stick with it, there's not much point really; it's a bit much for something you may find you don't like doing. A 16kg KB is the usual starter weight.

Given their effectiveness and the whole body workout you really don't need anything else at all- and it's cheaper than a gym subscription- so the initial cost works out being acceptable in my eyes.

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