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Being a qualified kettlebell instructor, I absolutely love to put kettlebell exercises into my workouts, for myself and clients.

Kettlebells have long been used as a dynamic tool to develop strength and endurance for centuries. Their origin is still unknown; some people say Russia some Scotland, but archaeological records show evidence of their use in Ancient Greece. At the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, in Athens Greece, a 143 kg kettlebell is stored. On the kettlebell an inscription is imprinted with the adage “Bibon heaved up me above a head by one head”. Kettlebells made their way to Russia at the beginning of the 18th century, where in 1704, the word ‘Girya’ (meaning kettlebell), was first published in the Russian Dictionary. At this time, the kettlebell just happened to be used as a weight to measure grains and other goods. However, as the Russian culture views strength as an honourable quality, during festivals and fairs, vendors started swinging and lifting these kettlebells to show their strength, and quickly recognised the health benefits related to this activity.

The kettlebell is a cast iron or cast steel weight which resembles a cannon ball with a handle used to perform ballistic exercises combining cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

Typically kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, as well as increase grip strength. The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.

Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettlebell exercises often involve large numbers of repetitions. These exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks.

This combination makes the exercise quite tough aerobically and more similar to high-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting. In one study, kettlebell enthusiasts performing a 20 minute snatch workout were measured to burn, on average, 13.6 calories/minute aerobically and 6.6 calories/minute anaerobically during the entire workout – this was the equivalent of running a 6-minute mile pace.

Because of their high repetitions, kettlebell progression should start out slowly to build muscle endurance, support the joints and prevent injury. If you fancy giving this a go or have seen them in your gym and want some advice please get in contact.

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