Kettlebells have been around for over a century. They were especially popular with the Russian Military. The 1986 Soviet Weightlifting Yearbook states that, “It is hard to find a sport that has deeper roots in the history of our people than kettlebell lifting.” In Tsarist Russia, anyone who lifted weights was known as a girevik or a “Kettlebell Man.”
In 1913, Ludvig Chaplinsky wrote in Russian magazine Hercules that, “Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettlebell athletics.” The Russian Special Forces owe their increased strength, agility, and incredible stamina to Kettlebells. Their strength training manuals described kettlebell drills as “one of the most effective means of strength development.”
Kettlebells for Weight Loss
But can this implement, that was once used to develop incredible levels of strength, muscle, stamina, and agility also be used for weight loss? Well, if you’re overweight, you’ll lose fat. And you’re skinny, you’ll pack on muscle. I know, it sounds too good to be true. But understand that Kettlebells are an athletic form of training. This means that your body will literally adjust to the form of training and stress you place on it. A study by Voropayev (1997) found that 21.2% of top Russian girevik increased their bodyweight since training with Kettlebells and a similar percentage lose fat. In essence, they developed very similar body structures:
- Broad shoulders with a hint of pectorals
- Think back muscles
- Veiny arms
- Rugged Forearms
- Cut Midsections
- Strong Legs with a hint of calves
So you won’t look like a bodybuilder or fitness model with Kettlebell training. But you will get leaner, bigger, stronger, and much, much more athletic. To get started, you need to learn some basic movements:
1-Arm KB Push Press
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart, back straight and chest out, holding a Kettlebell tight against your body with your right hand.
- Keep your elbow tucked in close to your body. Keep your abs tight, contract your quads and glutes as bend your knees, push your hips down, then reverse the movement forcefully, straightening your legs (forcefully as if you were about to jump).
- This momentum should help push the kettlebell up and over your head. Make sure the Kettlebell is pushed straight over, or even slightly behind your head.
- Do not let the Kettlebell come in front of your body, or else you will lose your balance and potentially hurt yourself. Lower the Kettlebell back to starting position and repeat.
1-Arm 2-Point Row
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold a Kettlebell in your right hand, with your left hand folded behind your back.
- Contract your abs, push your hips back, bend your knees slightly and bend forward. Keep your back straight. Start by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Row the Kettlebell in an arch-like motion towards your hips. Squeeze you shoulder blades at the top of the motion. Pause, and release to bring the Kettlebell slowly back to the lower position.
Setting up a Routine
The best way to set up a Kettlebell routine for weight loss is to perform high intensity circuits, supersets, or interval training. Using the two exercises above, we can set up a nice upper body superset workout. A superset is where you alternate between two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between each set. Here’s a sample:
2 rounds of:
- 1-Arm KB Push Press, 10 repetitions each side
- 1 Arm 2-Point Row, 10 repetitions each side
- Rest 60 seconds
Start off with just 2 rounds, and steadily build yourself up to 5 rounds.