5 Reasons Why Training With KBs For Strength Sucks…

When I was younger, I used to engage in useless debates
about why/if the barbell was better than kettlebells for “pure”
strength training.

You know – absolute or maximum strength.
(As if that’s the ONLY form of strength there is.)

Funny thing is, nobody ever has a comeback when I say,

“If you could clean and press a pair of 48kg kettlebells
for 10 reps do you think you’d be ‘pretty strong?’”

Another funny thing is how many “barbell guys” I met while
teaching at certs with “big” deadlifts and squats who struggled
to clean + press a pair of 32s for reps.

And the 40s were right out the window.

The only reason I can do it is because of my Olympic
lifting background –

There’s a tremendous amount of similarity and therefore
carryover from the Olympic lifts to the kettlebell – particularly
double KB strength work.

All this got me thinking about why training with KBs for
strength “sucks.”

Here are 5 reasons I came up with:

#5: Your body only respects the barbell. 

It’s “true” – your body only gets strong from barbell work.

It doesn’t “respect” other forms of resistance and is sure as
heck doesn’t respect progressive overload, regardless
of the tool.

And other forms of resistance don’t trigger the adaptation
mechanisms that make your body get stronger.

So save those “cattle-balls” for your strength endurance

#4: Kettlebells are strength-endurance tools.

This is one of my favorites.

Because people tend to do more reps than less, and most people
use a or multiple kettlebells that tend to be lighter than other
traditional forms of weight training –

Then KBs are only strength-endurance tools.

If you’re starting from ground zero, one of the simplest, easiest,
and safest ways to get strong is to use a fixed weight – like
a KB – and build up your total workload / volume with it over
the course of time.

This is one of the reasons KBs have a high transformational
aspect to them – people from traditional strength training and
fitness backgrounds have such amazing results from them.

#3: Kettlebell are bad for your ______.

I love these arguments.

I’ve read “back… shoulders… wrists… knees…”

The truth again is, the kettlebell is just a tool.

Just like a dumbbell, barbell, sandbag, mace, or leg extension
machine is just a tool.

And the tool only does what the operator tells it to do.

So if the kettlebell hurt your back, then it’s an operator error.

The fact of the matter is, over the last 15 years or so, tens, if
not hundreds of thousands of people have restored lost
function in their “back… shoulders… wrists… knees…” by
using a KB and performing variations of the 6 major KB
exercises –

The Swing, Clean, Get Up, Press, Squat, and Snatch.

#2: Kettlebells use momentum so they’re bad for you
(and you can’t get strong from using momentum).

I read this recently from a man whom I respect.

I still respect him, but I respectfully disagree with him.

Here’s a newsflash: 

EVERY single exercise you do uses momentum to initiate
the movement.

It’s impossible to move without momentum.

Here’s why momentum with the kettlebell exercises is good
for you:

Exercises like the Swing, Clean, and Snatch actually use
momentum to load your hips and use your muscles MORE
than traditional exercises – creating a type of “virtual force” –

Where something as “light” as a 53lb KB can produce 500lb
of force from a Swing.

This actually places the benefits of something like heavy
deadlifts in the hands of regular, average Jane’s and Joe’s.

#1: Kettlebells are too expensive compared to traditional 
strength equipment like barbells.

I’ve always loved the phrase –

“You get what you pay for.”

Make no mistake – I cut my teeth on the barbell and competed
in barbell sports.

I love the barbell.

But the kettlebell allows you to do things you can’t do with a
barbell, or anything else for that matter –

The “ballistics.”

The ballistics are worth their weight in gold.

The ballistics are exercises that allow you to swing the KB(s)
between your legs and more importantly, underneath your
body, to stretch and load your hips and legs.

This loading, when performed correctly, will strengthen every
muscle in your body, including your heart, and will transfer
over to other strength exercises like pull ups and presses.

When I was training for Olympic lifting, I’d use the KB ballistics
to push up my work capacity – my ability to do more and more
work and recover from it.

There was always a big difference in recovery ability when I
took them out of my programming.

The Truth is, KB training, when taught and performed
correctly, is one of the most effective ways, if not THE most
effective way, to increase one’s total body strength and
conditioning in a practical (useable) and time-efficient

Plus, if you get good KBs, they’ll last you several lifetimes.

My 4-year old watches me lift and I will pass on my KBs to
him when I step into eternity. They will last that long.

One Final Thought…

Let’s get back to that question I posed at the beginning –

“If you could clean and press a pair of 48kg kettlebells
for 10 reps do you think you’d be ‘pretty strong?’”

The answer really is a resounding “H#ll yeah!”

Of course you would be.

In fact, there isn’t a muscle in your body that is not
taxed from performing Clean + Presses with any pair
of KBs, let alone a pair of 48s.

The double KB Clean + Press (any overhead lift actually)
is one of the best ways to develop total body strength
when done for low to medium reps –


One of the best, if not THE best ways to develop total
body conditioning (including gaining muscle and losing
fat) when performed for medium to higher reps.

Do you have a pair of kettlebells?

If so, learn how to do the double Clean + Press (and
Push Press, and Jerk) correctly here.

You’ll discover just how “strong” you can REALLY get
using them.

Talk soon.


P.S. It may sound like I’m bashing the barbell here.

I’m not.

Like I said, I cut my teeth on the barbell.

It’s just that learning how to use a pair of kettlebells is so
much more practical for the Average Jane or Joe – especially
when the programming for strength is done correctly.

You don’t need a lot of space. The KBs are portable. And
it’s easier to maintain your technique when fatigued using
them than when using a barbell.

Trust me – I know. All my injuries have been from barbells,
not kettlebells.

Finally –

If and when you decide to use the barbell, you’ll be very
well served to have a KB foundation. It’ll make the barbell
work that much easier.

P.P.S. Obviously some of this email was sarcasm. Hopefully
you could tell this. :-)

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