If I had to choose only one piece of equipment to train with for the rest of my life, it would without hesitation be the kettlebell. Let me backup for a moment though. I absolutely love barbells and dumbbells, honestly I’m excited to be able to use them again (hopefully soon) when our gym reopens. I’ve dreamed about crushing some Deadlift PR’s in the future. If this quarantine has taught me anything though, it’s how to do more with less.
With a single kettlebell, I was able to train for an entire month (I caved and bought another) and perform the following exercises:
- Overhead Press
- Turkish Get-Up
- Single-Arm Swing
- Floor Press
- Goblet Squat
- Front Squat
- Reverse Lunge
- Split Squat
- Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
- Overhead Carry
This was all with one single piece of equipment! As a result, I’ve been able to continue making progress in my training and stay on-track. This has also been a great way for me to de-stress during quarantine. The following are the reasons I believe the kettlebell is a superior training tool and a must-have for any serious gym.
- Minimalist AF: Short of simply training with your body weight (also an effective training modality), the kettlebell is the minimalist’s wet dream. With one kettlebell, you can: Build muscle, burn fat, build a bone-crushing grip, increase work capacity, build a bulletproof core, build a bigger and stronger butt, make you more explosive, and become harder to kill (remember rule #1: Cardio) when the zombies come. I’ve been able to do all of the above (haven’t seen the zombies yet) with only two kettlebells. Let’s be honest, waiting on the squat rack during a busy time at the gym sucks…
- Versatile: Not only can you perform the previously-mentioned movements with one bell, you can also train using complexes or circuits with a combination as well. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination. In fact, I remember feeling pretty confident in my kettlebell abilities until my trainer Sean had me start doing double bell work (it’s a whole different ball game, folks). Because of this, you can train the basic movement patterns in a bunch of different ways to prevent boredom (even more essential during quarantine). Not only this, but you can perform slow grinds (squat, deadlift, Turkish get-up, press, etc…) and ballistics (swing, clean, snatch, etc…). Because of this, you can build absolute strength and power with the same piece of equipment.
- Batman trains with them (probably should have led with this…). In “The Batman Files,” one of Batman’s training sessions consists of the following:
- 5 Sets Metabolic Conditioning
- ¼ Mile Run
- 21 Kettlebell Swings (I rest my case…)
- 12 Pull-ups
- 5 Sets Metabolic Conditioning
- Durability: Simply put, kettlebells are the fitness world’s version of Wolverine’s Adamantium claws. I’ve never actually tried to destroy a kettlebell, but I’m pretty sure it’s difficult. Think about it, it’s a cannonball with a handle. Unless you heat it enough to melt it, what can you do? Unlike belts and cables on a machine, J hooks on a squat rack, chains on a bike, resistance bands or collars on a barbell, kettlebells will outlive you. In “Simple and Sinister,” Pavel simply states that we are the current owner of the bell until it comes time to pass it onto the next generation. Because of this, it’s an awesome investment in building your strength.
- Skill acquisition: In my professional experience, teaching the kettlebell movements is much easier than the barbell. In addition, it’s much safer as well. Take the barbell back squat, for instance. It’s an amazing movement when performed correctly, great for building strength and mass in the legs. However, with the barbell sitting across your shoulders, it produces a compressive force on your spine, drastically increasing the risk of injury. With the kettlebell goblet and front squat, this is not the case. A lot more can go wrong with a barbell when performed incorrectly.
I continue to be amazed by the gains I’m able to make with just two kettlebells. My Trainer Sean spent six months training exclusively with kettlebells. What’s more is that he trained two movements: Turkish Get-ups and Swings. After not touching a barbell, he pulled an all-time Deadlift PR. The same thing happened for me when I competed in a strength challenge shortly after training for my SFG. Look, I absolutely love the barbell. In the gym, it’s my first love. However, I’m challenging you to give the kettlebell a chance. Like me, you’ll be glad you did. Plus, you’ll be one step closer to becoming Batman!
To your lifelong health and success,
Thank you so much for reading this blog. Here’s a simple at-home core workout for you!