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Advantages of Kettlebell Training

This is an excerpt from Kettlebell Strength Training Anatomy by Michael Hartle.

Kettlebell training provides key advantages in the development of strength, endurance, mobility, and overall conditioning.


When using kettlebells in your training, it is difficult to isolate specific muscles, as training with kettlebells will enhance your body in a global sense. For example, when you perform a kettlebell press as in chapter 4, everything from your rib cage down will be strongly activated in an isometric contraction to maintain your posture while you dynamically press the kettlebell overhead. Your pressing muscles, primarily your deltoid and triceps muscles, are working hard, and your abdominal and gluteal muscles are maintaining the isometric posture in a strong contraction. Another example is the renegade row, discussed in chapter 8, which is one of my personal favorite exercises. In this exercise, while in the top of a push-up position, you row a weight with your right hand, then with your left hand, and repeat for the set. While doing this, your hips do not move, and neither do your legs. Moving from four points of contact (both feet and both kettlebells are touching the ground) to three points of contact (both feet and only one kettlebell is touching the ground while lifting one kettlebell in the air) and back to four points of contact is what makes this exercise fantastic. Maintaining this posture not only makes the exercise harder and more beneficial, but it also trains the appropriate muscles and decreases the compensatory mechanisms that a lot of people use to accomplish a task.


A lot of people think of strength, not mobility, when they think about kettlebells. However, kettlebells can be used to train both strength and mobility. From a strength perspective, almost every exercise in this book can make you stronger and healthier. But using kettlebells to enhance mobility has transformed my training and has benefited a lot of my patients to be able to move better and decrease their injury potential at the same time. The kettlebell arm bar, in chapter 10, is a great example in that when performing this exercise, your thoracic spine and shoulder mobility will increase over time. Some people try to use a significant amount of weight when performing the arm bar, but in my professional opinion they are missing the boat when performing it this way. Personally, I tend to use either the 12-kilogram or 16-kilogram (35 lb) kettlebell while doing this mobility movement. Another one of my favorite kettlebell mobility movements is the prying goblet squat in chapter 6. This particular mobility movement is paramount for anyone doing any type of squatting motion or single-leg movement exercise. I also recommend a light weight, such as a 12-kilogram (26 lb) to a 20-kilogram (44 lb) kettlebell, as you are not trying to gain strength but instead enhance your hip and pelvic mobility prior to your training session.

Performed on a regular basis, these mobility movements will decrease the negative physical stress that our bodies are under in our society, especially with the advent of electronic devices used nearly 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption

Excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) refers to the increase in metabolism (the rate at which calories are burned) after a training session. After a kettlebell snatch, for example, your metabolism will be increased partly due to the increased amount of oxygen that was consumed. EPOC is one of the positive side effects of high-intensity exercise. For those persons wanting to lose weight, EPOC can definitely help. Understanding EPOC is important especially when you are performing ballistic kettlebell exercises and a few grind exercises, too. Even when you are done exercising, you are still burning calories afterward—even while resting.

More Excerpts From Kettlebell Strength Training Anatomy