Fitness

Workout 101: Guy's Guide to Kettlebell Training

Get schooled on this old-school workout

You’ve probably noticed kettlebells – cast-iron weights resembling cannonballs with a handle – lined up at your local gym recently, or seen them advertised on Amazon while shopping for protein powder. These Russian-born bad boys are having a fitness moment, with kettlebell training popping up everywhere from Crossfit to all-bell classes at boutique gyms across the country.

Rivaled only by medicine balls for their throwback workout vibe, kettlebells conjure up images of the circus strong man in a striped singlet and handlebar mustache. But there’s a reason this piece of fitness equipment has stuck around so long, and are coming back into fitness fashion now – it works.

Interested in kettlebell training? Here’s what you need to know before picking up your first bell:

WHAT IT IS

Kettlebell training offers a true full-body conditioning workout, with moves that throw off your center of gravity, forcing you to use multiple muscle groups, including your core, to maintain balance. In a kettlebell training class you can expect challenging sequences including lunges, swings, squats, dead lifts, clean and jerks, and more. This movement-based training (sometimes called functional fitness training) works both the anaerobic and aerobic system, making it a major calorie-burner.

GUY-TO-GIRL RATIO

1:1

Kettlebell training doesn’t have the stigma of being a “for girls only” class like spin or Pilates do. I’d guess that’s because kettlebell aficionados can expect to develop a body that’s lean and toned, not bulky – making it a workout that appeals to women and men who aren’t looking to get #swole. Moreover, the variety of weights available means everyone feels welcome to try.

CHOREOGRAPHY COMPLEXITY

The best way to start using kettlebells is to find a trainer or instructor with a kettlebell teaching certification. Why? Because while the exercises in a kettlebell training class – squats, swings, lunges – may be easy to do, they’re surprisingly hard to do well.

Nike trainer Rachel Nicks says, “Good form is essential for both safety and success. I am a stickler for alignment – form must come before speed.” There’s so much to keep in mind regards to form that your brain is definitely on the whole time. At least, it is if you’re doing it right. “If your form is wrong you risk injury and won’t experience the desired results in your body,” says Nicks.

Personally, I go through most kettlebells classes filled with fear that someone around me is going to lose their grip and let 10-15 pounds of pure cast-iron come flying at my head. What I’m saying is, with great size of kettlebells comes great responsibility. Wield wisely.

Check out these gifs to get you started:

Kettlebell Swing

High Pull

Goblet Squat

Russian Twist

Gifs by: Joel Castillo of whatdoiwear.co | shot at Nike+ 45 Grand training studio in NYC

SHOWER-METER

Low. Because you take frequent breaks to ensure proper form, you’ll probably be okay.

HOW HARD IS IT, REALLY

It’s hard, guys.

Like barre, kettlebell training is all about controlled movements that offer a payoff in the form of tone and tightening. With regular workouts, you’ll burn calories and increase explosive strength. This dynamic, whole-body workout incorporates cardio, resistance, and range-of-motion training – all at once – so long as you’re doing it right, you’ll see results.

Tell me:

Have you tried a kettlebell class? Would you?

Stay in shape with the Guy’s Guide to barre, Pilates, Crossfit, and rowing.