The kettlebell; the ugly sister of the fitness industry.

The kettlebell; the ugly sister of the fitness industry.


It’s the dormant industrial machine that is ever reliable and while it’s not pretty to look at, it is admirable and inviting to hold. Clasping the handle you lift it up to feel the weight of it, not quite sure what to do next, you wonder at it’s mystery. It must take a true craftsman to awaken this beast and bring it to life.


Found in the corner of most gyms, banged and chipped, its wounds are scars from years of war and tell-tale sign of its devotion to the cause. Somebody must be using them, building a lifetime of memories. But who are these warriors? Who has the expertise to yield this weapon of strength and take on this barbaric tool?


Like any tool or weapon, without proper instruction or education about how and when to use it, the universe of possibilities continues to live in the unknown. Remember the time you first picked up your barbell and all you knew was curl, bench press and shoulder press? How your world opened up when you were shown a bent-over row or a barbell landmine? Or the day somebody explained a drop set, complex or an alternating press with some dumbbells? Mind-expansion!


Well let me formally introduce you to the kettlebell and offer some advice before you start. Do not underestimate it.


The kettlebell is movement mechanics dream. Simple, sturdy, robust and ever willing to co-operate with your creativity. Master the basics of how to hold it, how to move it, how to swing it, how to press it and this iron sphere will encourage you to keep going like that naughty little school friend you had who would never steer the shopping-kart but always be there for the ride.


The possibilities are endless, there is not much you can’t do with a kettlebell, and so much more you can than with a barbell or dumbbells. The kettlebell swing comes to mind, the archetype example of how to strengthen your glutes dynamically while keeping your torso in line and your posterior chain running the show. But the ability to switch arms mid set and work your lateral muscular-chains. To go from a squat to a thruster and down into a clean with a narrow stable centre of gravity as the kettlebell molds around your wrist almost predicting your every intention is something you just cannot achieve with a dumbbell or bar.


As Taco Fluer from Cavemantraining says, a kettlebell is not better or worse than any other piece of kit, and no other piece of kit is better or worse than a kettlebell, the difference is how and when you use it.


When looking to tan-up and get on stage to compete for Mr. Olympia competition, then kettlebells might be lower down the list than most. When training for the world’s strongest man, you might find the kettlebells are only used to throw into a sac and sling over the top of something else to add a bit more weight.


But when it comes to bang for your buck, overall cross-training, effectiveness in small spaces and especially trunk – glute neurological – muscle connection, the kettle bell sits near the top. These multiplane movements lay down the neurological connection for most strength & power developments. It connects the brain directly to its stability network so more weight can be lifted when we revert back to barbells or dumbells. Our pecs can tap into that neurological potential of the shoulder and we can bench-press more, our biceps can curl more and our thighs can squat more.


But that’s actually a secret. The real kettlebell warriors don’t really want the world to know that. They want the nay-sayers to think that the old ways are best. That only machines give you big muscles. That barbell squats and deadlifts are all you need to do to get a strong core.


Because when we’re all old and frail, the ones who lit up their neurological network through dynamic movements like rotations, anti-rotations and side flexions will be the ones helping those who trained only forward and back and up and down to put on their seatbelt in their self driving cars.


The neurological adaptations from resistance training are proven to increase longevity and healthy happy joints and muscle cells into later life. The neurological adaptations to dynamic movement training like yoga and pilates have also doctored the nervous system to maintain happy healthy joints and muscles when we get older.


Now imagine there was a way to bring those two magic medicines together, some hidden gem in the gym or at home that was hiding in plane sight. What if that ugly sister that everybody just walks passed ignoring her for her prettier younger sister, was somewhere just waiting for that human contact so she could release the elixir of eternal life!

Apr 20, 2020

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