I’d say my personal training clients are about 50/50 on kettlebells.
Half of them LOVE them, claiming that they feel like they get a better workout when we integrate the KB rather than dumbbells alone. The other half LOATHE them, reminding me that KBs can spike a heart rate faster than an all-out sprint and that swinging them requires both a strong core and a decent cardiovascular endurance level.
That said, before you pick up a kettlebell yourself, consider the following:
- can you lift it over your head – but with resistance? If you can’t pick it up and press it, it’s too heavy. If you can flip it over your head like it ain’t no thang, it’s too light. I recommend female clients starting at 15# and males at 20-25, moving up to 35# for fit females (CrossFit RX) and 55# for fit males.
- is your lower back ok? Rule number one of putting stuff over your head is having a strong enough “base” to support said stuff. If your lower back strains on shoulder presses, bench presses, or lat raises, you probably don’t want to mess with a KB.
- can you maintain momentum? Even if you can pick up the kettlebell, if you can’t maintain a consistent and steady swing (momentum movement) using only a “hip hinge” (i.e. not throwing your entire body out), you should stick to dumbbells to build strength before moving forward to a KB.
- do you have access to the full range of shoulder motion? Particularly crucial in the overhead (American) swing, you must be able to flex the thoracic spine and retract the shoulder girdle in a way that allows you to get your arms straight overhead without an overpronounced lumbar curve. This is what I mean by that.
If you’ve gone through the above info and still think kettlebells are for you – fantastic! I absolutely adore them and use them often in my own workouts to add intensity, rhythm, and strength in between dumbbell and/or other cardio intervals.
In honor of #flexfriday, I’ve put together a ThisFitBlonde exclusive kettlebell workout that will leave you sweating and out of breath after only 10 (!) minutes. If you want the full “killer” program, rest 2 minutes after the first set and repeat all exercises.
Let me know if you try it and what you think – and tell me about your experience with kettlebells! Take ’em or leave ’em?