I was once told by a colleague, who actually sells the
trusty belle du kettle, en masse, that he didn’t know
how I could write so much about these things day in and
It was quite a compliment because he is quite the writer
and businessman himself.
The truth is, I love them.
Not in a romantic, take them out to dinner, hugs and
kisses sort of way… That’s just… creepy.
No, I love them in a practical, down-to-earth, wholesome,
Mom and apple pie and freedom kind of way.
I’ve spent the last 12 years (this coming January) with
a kettlebell (or bells) in my hand(s). And I’ve trained
all sorts of people from all walks of life using them.
(Hey, what can I say? I’ve been blessed.)
So here’s my top 5 reasons, esoteric as they may be, why
I love the KBs – in true David Letterman Top 10 countdown
Unlike a barbell or even a dumbbell (yes, you DB lovers,
you just have to test it out for yourself and see), there’s
so much you can do with a KB.
From lying on the ground and standing up, a la the Get Up,
to the ballistics like Swings, Cleans, and Snatches, there’s
so much that CAN BE done with the KB.
It truly is a “one-stop-shop” for fitness. It’s like the
Target or 7-11 of strength & conditioning. You can do
just about anything you want with them and they’re in
reach for everybody.
This is huge in my book.
I can use my KBs in my living room, in my garage, on my
deck, in my yard, at the park, wherever, whenever.
You just can’t do that with a barbell or a pair of
gymnastics rings. (Need to be able to hang them on something,
which I can’t do on my deck or in the middle of a field.)
I can take my KBs here, I can take them there…
In a box with a fox. On a train, on a plane…
I can use them anywhere, Sam-I-Am!
(Apologies to Dr. Seuss)
When I hurt my back in 2002, besides the immediate effects,
like not being able to bend over or take a deep breath,
there were some other, long lasting issues.
For example, the hip injuries, which I’m 99% certain
came from a complete loss of reflexive core stability
and an over-reliance on feed-forward, high-tension
At a certain point in 2006, I couldn’t even bend my knees
without excruciating knee pain.
The ONLY things I could do to load my lower body was
the single KB exercises – primarily the ballistics.
What I didn’t know then that I know now is that 1 arm KB
work increases your reflexive stability, your strength
(2H and doubles work does too… More on that some other
So I was able to start rehabbing my back and my hips
and getting myself out of the hole I’d created.
In fact, I was able to keep my sanity.
I’m not the only one.
There are TONS – literally hundreds, if not thousands of
stories about hard-charging, high-mileage folks who have
rehabbed shoulders, lower backs, knees, whatever, using
ye olde kettlebells.
Shoot, even my wife, a physical therapist (and RKC at one
time), used them with a good majority of her patients.
There’s power in that little black ball with a handle on
And I’m not just talking about the KB itself.
Sure, you can leave it out in the rain, kick it (not a good
idea), drop it, toss it, and generally abuse it, and the
truth is, if you bought yourself a decent one and not one
of those idiotic multi-colored vinyl covered ones from
Tar-jay with the handles spot welded on, the durn thing
will probably outlive you.
What I’m really talking about is the durability that KB
training gives you.
It works what’s called “in-between” strength – all the
cracks and crevices that traditional strength training
implements and exercises don’t seem to get – and you don’t
seem to realize until it’s too late.
Not only that, but because of the ballistic exercises, you
get to strengthen your joints and your ligaments, not to
mention your heart and lungs, in such a way that you just
cannot do with conventional training.
It’s weird, almost nothing I know of can make you feel as
“put together” as kettlebell training.
You just knew this had to be in the top 5 didn’t you?
Sure, when you want to train for absolute maximum strength
the KB or (Kbs) probably shouldn’t be your first choice.
That should be reserved for the barbell.
Or should it…?
I’d bet dollars to donuts there are plenty of 500 pound
deadlifters who cannot Clean + Press a pair of 48kg KBs.
So what kind of strength are we talking about here?
I know I just mentioned maximum strength and barbell
deadlifting, but the beauty of kettlebells is that you
don’t have to lift heavy to get really, really strong, AND
they are much more forgiving than barbell lifting.
And that makes them WAY more accessible to the average
Joe or Jane.
Plus, there are other kinds of strength that are more
applicable to every day life than absolute 1 rep max
strength found in the barbell –
And they’re easier to train with KBs than with a barbell:
Consider that according to Prof. Stuart McGill, spine expert
extraordinnaire, that most lower back injuries come from a
lack of strength endurance in the core.
KB ballistics fix this.
Also consider that life is not a sprint, but rather a
marathon, something that you need stamina and endurance
for. KBs help you train this kind of strength.
This is the ability to perform explosive movements repeatedly.
Now you may not correlate this to you everyday life, but
this describes most athletic events. Run, jump, sprint.
– Everyday Strength
I think of this as “walking around” strength, or the
strength to do whatever it is you want to do whenever you
want to do it.
KBs give you that kind of strength.
In order to experience all 5 of these “best” things make
sure you start your KB experience right.
Start with the single KB exercises.
Spend time there.
Don’t be in a hurry to progress.
Enjoy the process.
However, when you are ready to move on, say after 6 months
to a year, scale up and start using a pair of KBs.
If you’re ready for them, make sure you start out correctly
with correct technique.
Just train that for awhile.
Then slide into the “STRONG!” program and maybe even
combine it with the “One” program. Don’t worry, I show
Then you’ll really experience true “Everyday Strength” for