The answers are simpler than you might think…
“Are kettlebells right for me?”
It always surprises me, but people seem to have a misconception about kettlebells. They think that in order to use them, they must:
1) Be young
2) Have a “low mileage” body
3) Be a stud/studette with years of weightlifting/strength training experience.
4) Be a natural athlete
5) Be a man
6) Be in excellent physical condition already
None of the above is true. In fact, all of the above are total BS. Consequently, because so many otherwise capable people are drawn in by their belief in any of the above, people sell themselves short and miss the gravy train of amazing results that they could be getting if they put their fears aside and picked up some iron!
I’m going to give you the short answer: Yes, kettlebells are right for you! If, that is, you can identify with at least ONE of the following categories.
1. You are tired of getting mediocre results.
Far too many gyms and trainers focus too little on encouraging people to work on progressive exercise – meaning making movements or activities progressively more difficult as time goes on. The trend instead seems to be focused on putting people through as many different exercises as possible each session and then switching up their exercises each passing class.
This might be entertaining, but the problem is that you never end up “digging in one direction” as you’re too busy digging little holes all over the place. Buried treasure is never close to the surface – if you’re going to find a spot and keep digging. Doing otherwise leaves you being mediocre at a lot of exercises and minimal results to show for any of them since you haven’t stuck with them.
By engaging a skeleton crew of exercises – both kettlebell and bodyweight – as well as their myriad of variations, you can effectively dig toward your buried treasure WITHOUT stalling out and wondering once again “What’s the point of spending time on all this exercise?”
Which leads me to the next category…
2. You have minimal time to train during the week.
When I was a tad younger, I enjoyed the luxury of being able to take my sweet time while training. If you’re like most Americans and you have several kids, a full-time job, a house, a variety of bills, and tons of other responsibilities, you probably don’t have the hour and a half to two hours it takes to drive to a gym, wait for others to stop using the machine/station you want to use, shower, and drive back home, all to do it again several more times that week. You might only have 20 to 45 minutes twice a week to workout, if that. And if that’s all you have, do you really want to spend your time waiting for a sweaty person to finish up his/her set so you can sit in their sweat and do the same thing?
The beauty of kettlebell workouts and calisthenics workouts is that they can be done very quickly and effectively WITHOUT zapping your energy or requiring a myriad of equipment. With the right plan from the right trainer, you can get incredible results quickly and efficiently without beating your head into a wall every time you go to train. If you enjoy beating your head into a wall when you workout, feel free to stop reading this and smash up your nearest wall.
3. Work on strength, conditioning, and flexibility all at the same time.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but the nature of kettlebell workouts and calisthenics workouts is such that strength, cardio, and flexibility are not far off from one another. And given the option, would you rather split up strength, cardio, and flexibility into different sessions, or hit them all at once?
As always though, there’s a caveat. Poorly programmed and randomized kettlebell workouts and calisthenics workouts won’t make you stronger, more flexible, or better conditioned. You’ll more than likely end up not far from where you started and with little to show for your otherwise valiant efforts. You have to know where point A is to get to point B. Case in point: If someone comes in who can’t touch their toes and has limited flexibility, I work with them on improving what they can and slowly progressing toward a full movement. They still work on strength and get plenty of cardio from it, and progress toward harder movements and variations once their bodies can handle it.
All of these things play off each other. The stronger you are the easier it is to get flexible since you have better control of your muscles. Likewise, it’s easier to do more work once you’re strong, giving you a path to improving your cardio, and better flexibility means taking the brakes off your body that will keep you from doing more work! There’s a reason that kettlebells and simple bodyweight training seem miraculous: when done right, they act as a slingshot past what otherwise would seem like insurmountable obstacles and shoot you straight past the finish line toward your goals.
4. You want something you can do for 90 years, not 90 days.
Various 60-90 day programs popularized by late-night infomercials have helped a lot of people transform themselves, but they still beg the question: What do you do on day 91? Or 92? This seems like a minor concern, but it’s not.
If all it took to get in shape for life was 90 days of dedication, everyone’s lives would be a lot simpler. However, that’s just not the way it works. Your body adapts to the input you give it, and if you stop sending it all that make-my-body-look-hot input after 90 days, you will end up right back at square one, if not further back.
90 day programs are meant to be used for 90 days, after which you’re expected to move on to something else (I don’t know how vocally they expect you to do this, but regardless, that’s what your body will expect). If you aren’t dedicated to a discipline, such as kettlebells or calisthenics (or both!), it’s easy to fall off the wagon. If you constantly have such tools at your disposal, things become much simpler. Not easier, mind you, just simpler. You don’t have to keep staying up late to see which late-night infomercial you can buy into next like some weird fad fitness addict.
A solid, cast-iron kettlebell or two plus a skeleton crew of bodyweight exercises and the myriad of exercise variations available to you with them both will carry you to infinity and beyond if you have the grit to ignore your exercise ADD. The first kettlebell I ever bought was 35 lbs, and I still use it on a weekly basis (in addition to the dozen other kettlebells that now adorn my personal collection).
So, do any of the above sound like you? If so, then it’s a safe bet that kettlebells and calisthenics are right for you. If you’re ready to stop wiling away in obscurity with ineffective programs, fiddling with plastic and rubber gadgets, and you’re ready to usher some real results into your life, look no further – the kettlebell and your own body are up to the challenge if you are.
For a kettlebell you can pass on to your great-great grandkids, click here.