The Ultimate Home Gym Tool
Kettlebells were always an odd exercise instrument to me.
They were always stashed in the corner of every gym I went to, collecting rust and dust. The color variations were all over the place; they were either a bright plastic-looking blue or a dark metallic black. They were always lined up next to each other, like Russian dolls, observing the gym goers preferring barbells, dumbbells, pulley machines, and treadmills over the cannonballs with handles.
I had a few kettlebells that sat largely unused in my home gym for years. Every now and then I would carry one for 20-30 minutes for a Farmer’s Walk, but that was the extent of my use of them.
Almost a year ago, I was stagnant in my home gym routine. I wanted to add some weight into my bodyweight training, but I was tired of the monotony of dumbbells and didn’t have the space for barbells.
I stumbled across a video of someone doing kettlebell complexes (here’s an example of one). The rhythmic flow with a very heavy weight intrigued me, and I was immediately hooked. Several books, programs, and almost a year later, I’ve been kicking myself that I didn’t incorporate kettlebell movements into my home gym routine sooner.
The Benefits of Kettlebell Training
1. A Versatile Strength Tool
All strength training modalities (bodyweight, barbell, dumbbell, etc…) will help you build your strength. All have their advantages and disadvantages, and everyone has their own preference on which tool to select. Like all other modalities, if strength is your goal, the kettlebell will get you there.
What’s unique about the kettlebell is its utility and applicability. The kettlebell takes the scalability of dumbbells, adds the power movements of barbells, and keeps the portable benefits of bodyweight training, to create an altogether very unique and effective type of strength training tool. It’s the versatile Swiss army knife, the ideal tool for a minimalist home gym.
2. Compound Movements
Your introduction to the kettlebell should begin with these six movements. The Layman’s Fitness Video page has videos, instructions, and tips for each movement:
- The Kettlebell Swing
- The Turkish Get-Up
- The Goblet Squat
- The Kettlebell Clean
- The Kettlebell Press
- The Kettlebell Snatch
All of these movements use your entire body and move your joints within their ranges of motion. Your legs, core, arms, chest, and back are engaged in each of these movements, which means you can build strength across all areas of your body in each and every kettlebell workout.
There are honorable mentions beyond these six (around the worlds, halo’s, thrusters, overhead squat, etc…), but the mechanics taught by these six movements lay your foundation for all other kettlebell movements.
3. Time Efficient
The compound nature of most kettlebell movements means you can get more work done in less time. But a well-constructed kettlebell program applies the efficiency of compound movements with a plan design that strategically creates effectiveness as well as efficiency.
The best example of this is Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple & Sinister program (this is an affiliate link, and as an Amazon Associate I earn on qualifying purchases, but I cannot recommend this book enough!)
This program only uses two of the six movements mentioned above: the Swing, and the Get-Up. The program prescribes 100 swings and 10 get-ups almost daily, until you can finish 100 swings in 5 minutes and 10-getups in 10 minutes with a 32kg bell (“Simple” standard), and then the same time targets with a 48kg bell (“Sinister” standard).
This program is the definition of time efficient. Each session takes 20-30 minutes, and with 4-5 days a week, I was only training 80 – 150 minutes a week while building seriously functional strength.
Dumbbells come in pairs. Barbells and their plates require a large amount of space. Squat racks and benches quickly fill up a garage or basement.
Kettlebells provide the luxury of only taking a small square footage of your home. They can be tucked under your bed, stashed in a corner of your room, line a small portion of your wall in your garage, or fill a small rack in your home gym.
You always have the option to double up your kettlebell in a pair, but in my opinion it’s not necessary, especially at the beginning. You can save yourself space as you build your strength and home gym with the kettlebell.
5. A Portable Gym
Kettlebells can be transported and used in just about any location. You can take them to your local park, on the beach, on a mountain, in your living room, etc… This affords you the opportunity to take your gym with you anywhere you can drive.
6. Forges an Iron Grip
All kettlebell movements will require you to hold that piece of iron with your hands. While you swing it, clean it, press it, snatch it, or carry it, your grip is developed through those multi-planar movements. The kettlebell strengthens the muscles in your fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms, giving you the functional strength of a tight grip.
7. “Real Life” Movements
If I’m honest, one of my least favorite things about exercise is the monotony of movement. Standing still while doing curls, putting a barbell on my neck while going down for a squat, or laying on my back doing a bench press all served to build strength, but the movements felt disconnected from “real life”.
After I started kettlebell training, it wasn’t long before I noticed the small correlations between kettlebell movements and everyday life… picking up one of my kids (Clean), hinging down to pick up something from the floor (Swing), putting a heavy object on a shelf over my head (Get-up, Press), carrying groceries or a suitcase (Farmer’s Walk) etc… While of course the kettlebell does not precisely mimic our everyday movements, the closer connection actually made me enjoy my training sessions more.
This is a tool worth investing in! Give it a try, build some skills and build some strength.
- The One Missing Ingredient from Your Fitness Goals
- The Last Kettlebell Buying Guide You May Ever Need
- My Year of Walking Barefoot
- A Minimalist Exercise Routine That Works
- 10 Minimalist Workouts You Can Do at Home
- Threats to the Glory of Young Men
- 3 Nutrition Choices to Win in the Margins
- 3 Problems With Counting Calories
- When You Have 10 Minutes to Exercise
- The One Exercise Goal for 2023
Ready to get started?
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