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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why I opted for kettlebells

For years, I banged away with regular free weights.  Back in high school, I was a whopping 135 lbs and hit the free weights in an effort to bulk up.  Well, it turns out that bacon cheeseburgers accomplished that much easier.  However, now that my goals have shifted, I've turned to kettlebells as the tool for the job.

If you're not familiar with kettlebells, picture a cannonball with a D shaped handle on it.  That's a simplified version, but you get the point.

So, that leaves the question of why?

First, remember that I work out at home.  Because of that, my options can be a little limited.  I needed something that would let me get a great workout, but didn't cost insane amounts of money.  I'm an entrepreneur, which doesn't always mean you're wealthy.  Most of us are broke, and I'm no exception.

Kettlebells are extremely cost effective, all things considered, but they are also compact.  A barbell, dumbells, curl bars, and a bench take up a lot of space, but those are the things I'm used to working with in free weights.  Kettlebells, by comparison, take very little space.  In fact, you can get away with buying just one to start with.

I also went with kettlebells because of the workouts themselves.  Kettlebell workouts build strength and muscular endurance obviously, but they also build cardiovascular endurance.  The reason?  The kettlebell is almost always in motion, and you run from one exercise to another in a circuit.  This makes a potent combination that some studies have likened to running at a six minute mile pace!  Oh yeah, I like the sound of that.

The truth is, when you work at home, the benefits of a kettlebell workout are pretty clear.  You don't need a lot of equipment, you don't need a lot of space even, yet you can still get a serious workout that involves real resistance training.

So, where does one start regarding weight on one of these?  Well, on that note, I defer to someone who knows a hell of a lot more about this kind of thing than I do.  Greg Brookes, a London based personal trainer who also happens to be a big fan of kettlebells, offers this guide:
  • 8kg or 17lbs – Starting Weight for Women, I’ve never trained a women who shouldn’t start here. Remember this isn’t Dumbbell training!
  • 12kg or 26lbs – Unconditioned Men start here and Women advance to here very quickly
  • 16kg or 36lbs (Original Weight) – Average Conditioned Men start here, and many women progress to this weight within 6-12 months
  • 20kg or 44lbs – A natural progression for men and some women use this for Swings
  • 24kg or 52lbs – (Original Weight) – This is the goal for men and a nice demanding weight for most exercises.
  • 28kg or 61lbs – It’s a big leap from 24kg to 32kg so this can help bridge the gap.
  • 32kg or 70lbs – (Original Weight) – I like this weight for Swings and Turkish Get Ups
For what it's worth, I started a lot lower in weight, but mostly out of stupidity.  I bought a set with 5, 10, and 15 lbs kettlebells because I hadn't found Greg's website yet.

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