The kettlebell or girya (Russian: гиря) is a cast iron weight looking somewhat like a cannonball with a single looped handle on top. Although this piece of strength training equipment has been around for decades, only recently has it caught the attention of mainstream athletes. While today, there are sizes that range from 5 lbs to 175 lbs, the traditional Russian kettlebell is usually one which weighs 1 Pood (roughly 16kg / 35lbs). Kettlebells are a favorite item in many gyms, along with some other basic training items like weighted medicine balls, pull up bars, jump ropes and lots of free weights.
What’s so great about Kettlebells
The reason for the boost in kettlebell training it that it gets back to basic training that requires functional, whole body fitness. Kettlebells require an athlete to focus on whole-body conditioning because lifting and controlling a kettlebell forces the entire body, and specifically the core, to contract as a group, building both strength and stability at the same time. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups at once. In this way, they are a great option for getting a whole body workout in a short time.
Unlike traditional dumbbells, the kettlebell’s center of mass is extended beyond the hand. This allows for swing movements not possible with traditional dumbbells. Because more muscle groups are utilized in the swinging and movement of a kettlebell than during the lifting of dumbbells, a kettlebell workout is said to be more effective, and yields better results in less time.
Because the center of mass on a kettlebell “swings”, micro-muscles are needed to balance a kettlebell, more so than a dumbbell. The existence of a handle allows for “release moves” which are not available to a dumbbell.