…Kettlebells Build Strength & Athleticism
COULD KETTLEBELLS JOIN BARBELLS AND DUMBBELLS IN THE RANKS OF GREAT STRENGTH-BUILDING TOOLS?
We don’t know you, but we’re guessing you want to pile on the weight with your squat, bench and deadlift. We get it. You should. But there’s more to boosting your strength than just barbells and dumbbells. In fact, there’s another, less popular gym tool that will not only increase your numbers but also make you a better overall athlete, regardless of your age or experience level. Here we show you why kettlebells are so effective for increasing strength and athleticism and share a few ways to start adding them to your workouts.
THEY DEVELOP POWER AND EXPLOSIVENESS
To build more strength, size and speed, you need to target your fast-twitch muscle �ibers with power-focused exercises. When you focus on moving the weight faster, you increase your mus- cle-�iber recruitment. But instead of doing Olympic lifts that require bumper plates and complex techniques, use kettlebell exercises such as swings, snatches and cleans that blast your fast-twitch �ibers and activate your nervous system for bigger numbers on the other lifts. And they’re much easier to learn.
THEY BOOST STABILITY AND CORE STRENGTH
For more strength on your lifts, tense your entire body to create a � irm foundation for pushing and pulling heavy weight. When you activate one muscle, you spread tension and neural activity to surrounding muscles and unlock more strength and potential. That’s where kettlebell exercises come in. For example, instead of doing a goblet squat by grasping a kettlebell with both hands, hold it only on your right or left side to build core stability. Also, do “bottoms up” carries, which force you to tighten all the muscles in your body; the instant you lose tension, the kettlebell will fall over.
THEY INCREASE YOUR GRIP STRENGTH
If you want to get strong and add muscle, you need to build powerful forearms and a strong grip: You’ll squeeze your weights harder, engage more muscles and generate more force to lift more weight, especially on all your pulls. With kettlebells, you can do heavy weighted carries to build your grip strength; a good starting point would be 50 feet. Once that becomes easy, use heavier bells or add to the distance. You can also do one-arm carries to further engage your core.
THEY’RE GREAT FOR CONDITIONING AND RECOVERY
If the only cardio you do is walking from the car to the gym, you’re limiting your strength gains. Having better aerobic conditioning allows you to push harder during your workouts and recover faster between sets and on your rest days. It also encourages blood �low, which speeds up muscle repair. But you don’t have to do a long, slow jog to boost your aerobic capacity. With kettlebells, you can do a light, invigorating circuit of swings, cleans, snatches and carries to improve your conditioning and endurance while building strength and power at the same time.
THEY REDUCE WEAR AND TEAR
If you’ve been blasting your joints and tendons with a lot of heavy weight, you can switch to kettlebells to take pressure off your body while still getting great results. The reason why kettlebells spare your body is that it takes less weight to get the same effect. For example, if you front squat 250 pounds with a barbell for several reps, two 28-kilogram (62-pound) kettlebells might feel just as hard because of the additional muscle recruitment that’s required. Doing so will take a lot of pressure off your spine and joints while directly addressing your core and quads.