Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kettlebells.... I get it

Last week Superwoman, Neghar Fonooni, wrote a great article called "What is RKC?" If you're not familiar with RKC (or Neghar, she's friggin' rad!) go read her article, but in a broad view it's a tribe centered around fitness through functional movement and kettlebells. They use the kettlebell as their primary tool even though they are much more than that. I personally haven't gone through the RKC program so I can't say anything good or bad, but the people I've met who are RKC certified have a great knowledge of movement and the body and get great results with their clients. Nuff said.

(Sidenote: I know most RKC's use way more tools than just the kettlebell)

However, I worry about those who use just one tool, like the kettlebell, for their programs. I worry because hammers aren't used for chopping down a tree and a chainsaw isn't very good to smack in some nails. Some people do get carried away with kettlebells and at that point is when I like to make fun of them. This time I started thinking why this one group loves the kettlebell so much and it became very obvious.

For the general population (think 'I want to lose 10 pounds and feel better') there really isn't a better tool. When combined with good ole body weight movement you really can do everything you need in a program. I get it kettlebell crowd. For your demographic the kettlebell dominates.

Lets look at basic programming and how the kettlebell is so effective.

Warming up:
Usually consisting of dynamic stretches and body weight movements, you can add the lighter kettlebells into the mix with these to work on mobility and stability issues as well as muscle activation. Below is a great warm up exercise.

Power Work:
Since power is lost at a higher rate than strength as you get older, it's crucial to find safe modes of maintain and improving power. Since learning an Olympic lift when your 45 doesn't sound too appealing, I can't think of anything better than the kettlebell swing. When performed correctly it improves hip power tremendously without adding impact that jumping or other typical modes of increasing power would. Two huge factors to staying healthy and feeling good.

Strength Work:
Being strong feels good, period. Kettlebells can be used effectively with almost every movement. I typically don't overhead press most general population clients and they aren't very convenient with pushing movements like bench press. Good thing someone discovered how to do push ups. Other than that you can row, use them for squats, single leg exercises, and dead lift variations. Combine this with some good body weight movements and you can have a great strength program with progressions.

Core Work:
My favorite core exercise is the Turkish Get up. Nothing will get your core stronger than owning that exercise. It's best tool? Hands down the kettlebell. Also, most of your core strength will come through doing well designed strength exercises. Below is Gray Cook demonstrating the get up.

Conditioning/Metabolic Work:
Swings can work here again as well as combining it with body weight exercises can really put together a great circuit that will help with fat loss and conditioning.

If I'm training athletes this would change dramatically as I feel different tools are much more effective for most of these categories. I still use kettlebells with athletes but not to the extent I would with a fat loss client. For the typical fat loss/feel better client, you could just use the kettlebell and see great results.

So RKC/Kettlebell crowd I get it. The kettlebell is not just a crazy obsession but a well designed tool that can effectively give you the most bang for your buck. Well played.... well played...

Other great tools that came in after a kettlebell:
TRX/Suspension System

The Other Side:
Awesome new song from The Head and the Heart who are out of Seattle.

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