The History of a Kettlebell (Girya)
The origins of the kettlebell, also known as a “Girya,” can be traced back to the 18th century. This cast iron weight comes in “poods.” A “pood” is an old Russian measure of weight, which equals 16kg, aka 36 pounds. There are also one pood kettlebell, one and a half, and two pood K-bells, 16, 24, & 32kg, respectively(1).
The first official kettlebell competition did not take place until 1948. Then in the 1970s, the sport became popular, especially in Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In 1974, Girevoy sport was declared “an ethnic sport” by many Soviet republics. The Girya/kettlebell is used throughout the Red/Russian Army, particularly with the Soviet Special Operations and the Russian Navy.
Why Workout with a Kettlebell, Over Dumbbells, and Barbells?
Choosing the correct tool to work out with can make a big difference in your development of building strength and developing muscle. You can see the gains you want using any equipment. It just depends on what resonates with you most and what you enjoy. Each one has its advantages & drawbacks.
Kettlebells have one of the highest learning curves of all weight types due to the weight distribution below the handle. But the odd shape also makes kettlebells exceptional for training in explosive exercises and combinations. kettlebell-specific exercises, like swings, can help you develop power and stamina more effectively than other weights. Repetition of kettlebell lifting is one of the best tools for overall physical development(1).
The Benefits of Doing Kettlebell Workouts
There are many benefits when it comes to doing kettlebell Workouts. Kettlebell exercises help improve strength, bone density, balance & coordination. It is also a great way to increase your cardio function. Are you tired of spending an hour a day on a treadmill or stationary bike?
Just break out a kettlebell and spend 20 minutes doing some swings & snatches, and you will be amazed at how much of a workout you get in such a short amount of time. kettlebell exercises will also help teach your body new ways to move. They will also teach your body how to recruit the entire body during a workout instead of isolating one area. If you’re a kettlebell beginner, it’s important to remember to practice the basic kettlebell exercises until you have mastered the proper technique. Kettlebell exercises are like any other physical activity; you can get hurt using the improper method, too heavy too soon, or lose focus.
My Top 5 Full Body Kettlebell Exercises
1. RDL with Bent Over-Row:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, holding a kettlebell with both hands.
- Make sure that your legs are not locked out straight but with a slight micro-bend, hinging at your hips (DO NOT bend knees for movement), lowering the weight. Make sure your back is flat (NOT rounded) by pulling back your shoulder blade.
- Once you have hinged to a 45-degree angle, pull the kettlebell up near your belly button and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Slowly lower the kettlebell until your arms are straight.
- Move your hips forward and continue with an upward motion until the body reaches the starting position, ensuring you keep your back flat by pulling your shoulder blades back.
2. Kettlebell Swing
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, and toes pointed slightly outward, holding the dumbbell (or a kettlebell if you have it) in both hands.
- Bend your knees slightly, pushing your hips back, lowering the weight between your legs with your forearms pressing against your inner thighs. Keep your chest open with shoulder blades sliding down your back.
- Forcefully squeeze your glutes and drive your heels down to thrust the weight forward as you straighten your legs. All the work is done by your lower body and core in this exercise, and your arms will naturally swing forward to around chest height or above your head.
- Allow the weight to fall between your legs, bending your knees, ready for the next rep.
3. Kettlebell Lunge with Overhead Press
- Lunge your left leg forward and lean your left elbow on your left knee
- Make sure your knee is behind your toes, and your heel is pressed into the ground.
- Grab the kettlebell with your right hand. Lean forward and pull the kettlebell backward in a rowing motion.
- Keep your elbow close to your side when doing your row.
- With the straight back leg, the heel comes off the ground, and you’re on the ball of your foot.
4. Goblet Squat with Curl
- Grab the kettlebell by the horns and stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Maintaining a long spine and proud chest squat to full depth without an exaggerated posterior pelvic tilt.
- Aim for the ground between your feet with your groin as you lower yourself.
- At the bottom of the movement, while staying strong lower the kettlebell until your arms are straight, and then curl it back up.
- Stand up and repeat.
5. Sumo Squat with Chest Press
- Grab the kettlebell’s handle with both hands, holding the weight at your chest. Place your feet wider than your shoulders, with your toes pointing out.
- With your weight on your heels, sink your hips down & back into a squat.
- After you have lowered your squat, slowly press the weight straight out. With your eyes focused on the top of the handle, draw the weight back to your chest. While still in a squat position.
- Drive your heels through the ground and extend your legs back to the starting position.
Strength Equipment of Choice
A variety of strength tools (kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, and medicine balls, to name a few) can be utilized for full-body exercises. This past year, a goal of mine was to get more familiar with using a kettlebell and learning the plethora of movements that a KB has to offer. Out of all the free weight options, the kettlebell was the one strength tool that I had used the least. It is BY FAR the most versatile free-weight option and is now my favorite free-weight strength tool. If there were one piece of strength equipment I would recommend investing in, the kettlebell takes the crown.
Repetition kettlebell lifting is one of the best tools for physical development. It delivers strength, explosiveness, flexibility, endurance, and fat loss without the dishonor of dieting and aerobics, all in one tight package(1).They pose a much more significant challenge than Dumbbells, Barbells, and even machines. It is a highly effective tool for strengthening connective tissues, especially in the back, and it also helps promote shoulder and hip flexibility. Even better, little space is needed to perform kettlebell exercises so they can be done anywhere.
If you want to be able to do a bit of cardio and would like to develop strength, flexibility, and endurance, but without buying a bunch of big, bulky, and expensive equipment. I would highly recommend investing in some kettlebells. You will get a bigger bang without breaking your bank account. If you’re new to kettlebells or just trying to polish your technique on some of the basic kettlebell movements, head over to the SunnyFit App and check out Sunny Trainer Sam Candler’s 18-Course Kettlebell Series.
(1) "The Russian Kettlebell Challenge Xtreme Fitness for Hard Living Comrades", Book. 2001. Accessed 3 October, 2022