Top Ten Reasons to Train with Kettlebells and Bodyweight
by Phil Ross
There are many compelling reasons to select using kettlebells and bodyweight to meet your strength and conditioning needs. In summation, below is a list of the Top Ten Reasons to Train with Kettlebells & Bodyweight.
1) Strength on a Neural Level: Other Strength Training Systems operate on developing strength through muscle hypertrophy; this system addresses strength on a neural level. Kettlebell and bodyweight training strengthens the body from the inside out, starting at the core. The muscle doesn’t necessarily have to get bigger in order for you to be stronger. No machines, no benches, no fancy apparatus. Proprioception is leveraged while performing this type of exercise.
2) Shoulder Injuries: How many people do you know that have a shoulder injury? Most people are unaware of how to pack the shoulders and engage the latissimus dorsi. By teaching the students how to do this, removes a great deal of stress from the shoulders shifts the load to the large lat muscle (latissimus dorsi). With a Kettlebell and Bodyweight system, the focus is on not only the strength of the shoulder, but the mobility.
3) Explosive Power: Explosive power is developed through with Plyometric and ballistic movements. Kettlebell swings, snatches, and cleans are all explosive movements that recruit the posterior chain (low back, glutes and hamstrings) by accessing and developing the power of the hips and rooting with the floor. Another Russian Training Innovation, Plyometrics are also employed. Either weighted or bodyweight, generating power with squats, presses and push-ups add to the development of explosive power required to accelerate, jump, throw, take down or deliver a blow to an opponent.
4) Mobility: We don’t simply “Bang out hardcore workouts”, but we utilize movement and restorative training as well. If you push your body, you have to both prepare it for the session and also cool it down as you increase your flexibility and mobility. Mobility training incorporates the packing of the shoulders as you move your body, bridgework for spinal flexion and strength, thoracic mobility movements as well as other designed for your hips, neck, wrists, ankles, feet, toes, hands and fingers. Mobile and stable joints not only enable you to perform better; but reduce the incident of injury.
5) Bodyweight: The ability to control one’s own body through a myriad of movements not only displays, but develops athletic ability and performance. The balance, strength and spatial awareness created by bodyweight training is second to none. If you are unable to control your body properly, how can you safely maximize using additional load? If you have weaknesses and asymmetries, you will only compound your situation. You need to strengthen the intrinsic and stabilizing muscles in order to translate the strength that you have gained into usable, sport applicable strength. Additionally, bodyweight training helps you find what your ideal weight should be at. If you can’t accomplish certain movements, maybe the exerciser does not possess the proper strength to weight ratio.
6) Flexibility: A flexible muscle has greater resilience and a higher capacity to develop explosive power. The full range of motion used in our Kettlebell, bodyweight and suspension training enable the participants to use the whole muscle during their movements, especially in respect to opening the joints and accessing the posterior chain.
7) Endurance, Muscular and Cardiovascular: The fact that there are many kettlebell workouts that require 10, 20, 50 and even 100 repetitions develops an incredible amount muscular endurance and brings the exerciser across three energy systems, ATP-CP, Anaerobic and into the Aerobic. There is even a V02 Max protocol for the kettlebell snatch (McElroy, 2014).
8) Weight Class Athletes: There are two primary methods that increase strength, muscle hypertrophy and neural adaptation. Standard resistance training increases strength in response to loads by increasing the size of the muscle fiber. Due to the offset center of gravity and the shape of the kettlebell, the body must respond by recruiting motor units, stabilizers and the intrinsic muscles to keep the kettlebell in alignment throughout the movements. Hardstyle kettlebell training “teaches” the body how to be strong without adding great amounts of mass. A harder, more flexible, explosive and lean body is the result.
9) Better “Bang for the Buck”, Time Efficient: Not too many people have tow or three hours a day to spend at the gym in the quest for ultimate fitness. When kettlebells and calisthenics are utilized, an hour is more than sufficient to accomplish the five essential modes of fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and body composition (lean body mass). There are also many 20 and 30 minute workouts including Tabatas, Scrambled Eggs and The Warrior’s Challenge (Ross & Gallagher, 2016). All of the facets of fitness, plus mobility, can be met within a relatively short timeframe.
10) Young Athletes Train Safely: Kettlebells are safe to use for young athletes. Because of the offset center of gravity, a much lighter kettlebell may be used whereas to achieve the same effect with a barbell would require a much heaver weight. Calisthenics require no additional weight to employ.
Phil Ross, AKA Master Phil and The Kettlebell King is a Master Kettlebell Instructor, College Professor in Wellness and Exercise, holder of a Masters Degree in Sports and Health Sciences, Author, 9th Degree Black Belt, and Master Bladewielder & Bodyweight Specialist. Master Phil has also launched a certification course: BodyBell Method, which is recognized by the highly regarded ACE (American Council of Exercise). Read a more in-depth description of Master Phil’s qualifications and accomplishments here. Have a question for Master Phil? Click here and send it in! View Phil's collection of Fitness DVD's here.