from Russia, where they have a long history. The Russian word for
first appeared in a Russian dictionary in 1704 (Cherkikh, 1994). They
have long been popular in Russia, and were also popular among American
strong men of old.
recent resurgence in popularity of kettlebells as a training tool is
thanks largely to the efforts of Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet
Special Forces instructor who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s. In
1998 at the urging of his friend, the legendary powerlifting coach
Marty Gallagher, Pavel wrote the article “Vodka, Pickle Juice,
Kettlebell Lifting, and Other Russian Pastimes” for MILO, a strength
journal popular among people who lift rocks, bend steel, and do an
assortment of other crazy things. The response he received for this
article was positive beyond what he expected. In 2001, Pavel founded
the RKC, the first ever kettlebell instructor course in America. Ten
years later, the RKC remains the gold standard in kettlebell
instruction and attracts a wide variety of people to its ranks, from
athletes to everyday hard men and women, and the popularity of
kettlebells continues to grow.
lifting, though tough, is highly scalable and just about EVERYONE can
do at least something. Even simple routines and exercises can elicit
Kettlebells can function as a stand-alone system
or can be used in conjunction with other systems to improve the
performance and health of all who use them, from athlete to amateur,
soldier to weekend warrior, strong man to aging grandmother.
lifting encourages proper biomechanical movement and many who use them
properly and under good instruction report better mobility,
flexibility, alleviation of back and joint problems, and better overall
strength and conditioning.
Kettlebells can boast the
versatility to strengthen your body as much as it toughens and
conditions it, all without sacrificing your wallet, space in your home,
or your health.
Kettlebells are fun! They can be used indoors,
outdoors, on your lunch break, on the fly, on vacation – anytime,
Kettlebells Right for Me?
training can be scaled to just about anyone, from children to athletes
to the average Joe/Jane to the elderly. We have successfully trained
students young as nine years old, and when I received my certification
in Orlando in October 2010, there was a man in my group who was 73
years old! With very few exceptions, almost all kettlebell exercises
can be modified and made appropriate for just about anyone. Kettlebell
training is tough no matter what, but it is not an elitist activity.
Whether your goal is to become a human dynamo with infinite strength
and conditioning or just to stay active without spending hours at a
gym, kettlebell training can get you to where you want to go and faster
than you ever thought possible.
kettlebells make me strong?” Without a doubt! The RKC is referred to as
a School of Strength because that is our primary focus – pure, raw
strength. Strong men and women of all types throughout the ages have
trained with kettlebells to great effect. Here are some examples:
Soviet Olympic Weightlifting legends Yury Vlasov, Leonid Zhabotinsky,
and Vasiliy Alexeyev were all proponents of kettlebell training.
school Russian strongman Pyotr Kryloff, known for his ability to cross
himself in the Russian Orthodox style and juggle three kettlebells at
once (as well as being able to break rocks with his fists, make ties
and bracelets out of strips of iron, etc.) was widely referred to as
“The King of Kettlebells”. German-American strength training legend Sig
Klein, famous for feats of strength such as pressing pairs of 100-lb
dumbbells at a body weight of 150, was an early 20th century proponent
of kettlebell training.
One-time Master RKC Kenneth Jay has
strict-pressed two 70-lb kettlebells in one hand, a feat he
accomplished solely through his diligent use of kettlebell training.
more remarkable about kettlebells is their carry-over effect into other
forms of training. Senior RKC Peter Lakatos has deadlifted over 430 lbs
without a lick of support gear and without ever touching a barbell, all
thanks to heavy kettlebell swings and squats.
RKC Team Leader
Mark Toomey has squatted a barbell loaded up to 315 lbs for five solid
butt-to-ground reps and similarly thanks kettlebell swings and squats
at nowhere near that weight for his accomplishment. Powerlifting world
record setter and the man with the highest overall powerlifting total
in history, Donnie Thompson, RKC, put off deadlifting for nearly a
whole year, choosing to practice kettlebell lifting instead and saw his
already immense deadlift shoot from 766 lbs to 832 lbs.
Qualler, RKC, worked most of his way up to a one-arm chin up simply by
working the negative portion of his heavy military presses as hard as
he could. <> Can you hope for results like these simply
choosing kettlebell training? Almost certainly. As long as your
practice is consistent, your focus is sharp, and your instruction is
good, kettlebells are a great tool for scaffolding just about any of
your strength goals.
are unrivaled by any other piece of fitness equipment in terms of their
ability to give you superhuman conditioning – and in record time. Elite
Russian army units test the high-rep kettlebell snatch – the Czar of
Kettlebell lifts – instead of pushups as a measure of their units’
level of physical conditioning. Kettlebell ballistic lifts like the
swing, snatch, and jerk are renowned for their ability to take your
conditioning level from mere mortal to god-like.
a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the
benefits of the kettlebell snatch were tested on a group of 10
individuals ranging in age from 29 to 46, and the results were
astonishing. “[T]hey were burning at least 20.2 calories per minute,
which is off the charts. That’s equivalent to running a 6-minute mile
pace. The only other thing I could find that burns that many calories
is cross-country skiing up hill at a fast pace,” says John Porcari, PhD
and member of the research team that conducted the experiment. Upon his
first dance with kettlebell swings, cleans, and snatches, Michael
Castrogiovanni , a well-conditioned wrestler, reported that his heart
rate rocketed to 221 beats per minute – after only seven minutes.
Russian Professor Arkady Vorobyev conducted an experiment in which he
found that performing just 10 double kettlebell cleans with 72 lb
kettlebells significantly elevated the heart rates of even experienced
weight lifters. Even after 10 minutes of rest, they still did not come
with brute strength and conditioning, the kettlebell stands head and
shoulders above all other pieces of fitness equipment for its ability
to hack fat from your frame. Want proof? Look no further than the
stories of a few notable figures. Master RKC David Whitley knocked 24
lbs off of his body in 17 weeks thanks to kettlebells. Tracy Reifkind,
RKC, slashed over 100 lbs of fat from her body in less than a year by
simply practicing kettlebell swings three days a week for 20-minutes.
That's a mere 4-hours of training per month!
an example closer to home, local HKC Kelly Rushlow has bidden farewell
to 120 excess pounds, the vast majority of which comes as a result of
her kettlebell practice.
“Omaha Elite Kettlebell has
transformed my fat, tired, and aching 40 year old body into an athletic
body I haven’t known in 20 years.” -David “ “I became stronger in all
aspects, and I lost body fat at an incredible rate.” – Allison
list could go on and on, as these results are not atypical. It goes
without saying that these comrades cleaned up their act when it came to
their eating habits and maintained a laser-sharp focus on their
practice sessions to achieve the results that they did, and the same
applies to you. To quote the aforementioned Master RKC David Whitely
“You can’t out-snatch a donut.” Don’t kid yourself – find a reputable
source of nutrition information, make the necessary adjustments to your
diet, and start swinging. Your body will thank you.