In marketing, it is said there are types of people: the advanced purchasers who go for the newest thing before its been proven, the middle of the packers who go when the advanced purchasers tell them and the back of the packers who only buy when a product is well-proven and everyone has one. I’m a back of the packer – even when it comes to workouts. I don’t fall for every fad that comes through (remember the slide, the ramp or hula?) I wait for something to be tried and true before I add it in. After all, adding something to an already full fitness regimen takes time and learning.
Enter the kettlebells. These little gems have been around since the early 1700s, but I just started really incorporating them into my routine. Persuaded by none other than a Living Social deal, I made my way to a dark, closet-like studio to learn all about the bad boys of fitness.
Of course, I’ve dallied with them — incorporated swings and used them as a substitute for weights for rows and squats and deadlifts. Turns out, not only was I doing some moves incorrectly – I was also missing out on the point of using these bell-shaped weights with handles. You want to harness their momentum to help you build true functional strength — not just pretty muscles. While I knew this, I just wasn’t sure how to make it happen without doing joint damage.
I’ve learned a few important things in the short time I’ve been training with the bells that I thought I’d share with you:
1) Seek out a trainer specialized in kettlebell training to learn how to use them. Don’t copy videos from YouTube or try to mimic something you’ve read in a magazine – it won’t work and you do risk injury.
2) Protect your forearms. When learning certain moves, including the snatch, the bell tends to bang into your forearm. Technically it isn’t supposed to bang – but before you learn how to finesse the move – it causes mega bruising.
3) Learn to love those hips. If you aren’t willing to thrust, you are gonna feel pain in your low back.
4) You will get tired, not sore, but tired. I keep thinking I’ll be feeling muscle pain, but that hasn’t happened. Rather, I just feel spent. The day after a kettlebell workout, I feel like I have done something serious – my legs are lead and my arms are noodles.
5) You burn calories, but not as promised. Although the American Council on Exercise conducted a study in the winter of 2010 that showed a powerful, non-stop kettlebell snatch-based routine burned about 270 calories in just 20 minutes – that has not been my experience. In 20 minutes of a pretty intense routine for my novice body, I burned more like 130 calories – not shabby, but less than half of the alleged burn. I suppose if I were larger, hoisting heavier weights and proficient enough to really explode – my burn would go up.
Now I haven’t been training with the bells long enough to see true results – that will take time. What I can say is that it seems to be the change of pace that I needed. I feel confident kettlebell training will get me out of my rut and help me break through a plateau. Who couldn’t use that?