Archives For April 3, 2010

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Okay, okay … I get it. I try out kettlebells in my CardioSculpt classes, and suddenly, students begin popping up from out of the woodwork. It’s as though the mere presence of a kettlebell in class programs mean a guaranteed kick-butt workout, and truthfully, if used correctly and wisely, it does add a truly challenging and athletic-building element to your regime.

Here’s the easiest reason as to why: Ballistic movements (ones that require quick hip thrusts/extensions, as though you’re about to perform a vertical jump) require the integration of your leg/glute movements with your hip/low back and shoulder movements. This makes for a total body effort, requiring lots of energy and effort toward building momentum and managing it properly.
Compare this with more static, isolation-based movements, where you focus on a muscle group and try to really zone in on feeling it just in that one area (i.e. an isolated dumbbell curl). Clearly, the energy/effort requirement will be less. Instead of using and managing the momentum generated by explosive movements, you avoid it, choosing instead to keep the rest of your body static, in order to zero in on the muscle group you are working.
Hence, using any iteration of kettlebell swings, cleans, snatches (all Olympic power lifts) will really challenge you, literally kicking your butt because the power from quickly extending your knees and thrusting your hips forward, will mostly come from your glutes and low-back.
That said, it does require endurance in your back muscles, which most beginners lack. In truth, this is the reason a lot of newbies get turned off to kettlebells — they feel their low back and think it is hurting them. Can it? Of course — the key is to know the proper amount of swinging and lifting you can do successfully before needing to stop and give your back a breather. A properly-structured and designed program does that for you.
So, enjoy our kettlebell workouts for the next few weeks. After 4-6 weeks of variations on them, our CardioSculpt classes will move on to other modalities and equipment. Those taking Kettlebell classes with me will keep experiencing progressions as we go. Stay strong, keep working on your technique, and see the physical improvements for yourself!