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Seven reasons why people should train with kettlebells

Previously a little-known fitness tool that originated in Russia, kettlebells have exploded in popularity over the past five years. Everyone from athletes, coaches, and personal trainers to fitness enthusiasts and busy professionals have gravitated toward the remarkable all-in-one fitness method that seamlessly combines strength training, cardiorespiratory conditioning, core stabilization, coordination, and dynamic mobility into one intense workout.

In his book, Kettlebell Training, cutting-edge trainer Steve Cotter outlines the seven reasons why the kettlebell may be the best option for people's fitness needs among the myriad options now available—and why they should make it their tool of choice:

  1. Practicality. Kettlebells combine the benefits of muscle toning, cardiorespiratory conditioning, fat loss, and muscular endurance while also increasing strength and power, improving flexibility, increasing lean muscle mass, reducing stress, and increasing confidence. No other tool does so many things simultaneously.
  1. Versatility. “The deep eccentric loading that occurs when you swing the kettlebell between your legs develops a powerful hip extension, which is fundamental to all kinds of athletic movements like running, jumping, squatting, lunging, and kicking,” Cotter explains. The kettlebell's offset center of gravity also maximizes shoulder strength and flexibility, and its rounded handle and the dynamic movement patterns exercisers use help develop remarkable hand and forearm strength.
  1. Uniqueness. Kettlebells do not have the same shape or the same properties as more widely known barbells or dumbbells. The unique design allows the user to perform not only traditional weightlifting maneuvers like press, clean, jerk, snatch, and squat but also unorthodox skills like kettlebell juggling. Cotter notes, “Because the load of the ball is in front of the handle, unlike a dumbbell in which the load in in line with the handle, even the most basic of kettlebell movements cause you to work through a larger range of motion, increasing the flexibility demands of the exercise.”
  1. Affordability. A single kettlebell costs less than $100, and with a few hundred dollars a person can outfit an entire home gym with enough kettlebells to continue to progress through fitness goals for many years. Since they are made of steel or cast iron, they will also never have to be replaced. “They will literally last a lifetime,” Cotter says. “And because they are portable, kettlebell training can take place indoors or outdoors, in your home, office, or garage, or, if you prefer, the gym or the local park.”
  1. Fun. Cotter stresses that kettlebell training is fun, but not just because it helps a person get results quickly. “Usually when someone uses a kettlebell the first time, the first words out of his or her mouth is how different kettlebell training is from anything everything else. Kettlebells demand full engagement of body and mind,” he says.
  1. Efficient. By combining the benefits of strength training, anaerobic and aerobic training, and flexibility, users will never again have to spend hours each week moving from weight training to aerobic training to stretching. Through kettlebell training, they do it all at the same time, leaving more time to dedicate to other important aspects of life.
  1. Athletic. Kettlebell training is athletic not just in the way it builds the body but also in the way it builds skills. “Even if you do not feel like you are an athlete, with kettlebell training you will learn to move like one,” Cotter explains. “It will help you to develop all major athletic attributes, such as strength, power, mobility, balance, agility, coordination, endurance, and stamina, which are integrated by using this simple but highly effective training system.”

Cotter, a strength and conditioning trainer for the United States Marines and a consultant for numerous professional sports teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Anaheim Ducks, calls kettlebell training one of the most exciting exercise methods ever to be used in fitness and sport conditioning. Kettlebell Training offers extensive coverage on getting started with kettlebells—setting goals, assessing fitness, and using safe technique—along with step-by-step instructions for each exercise and photo sequences depicting key movements.