Why Kettlebells?Apr 21, 2022
Heavy objects can initially be intimidating for many people. There is a lot of fear and hesitation surrounding strength training with appropriately heavy weights. Time and time again I see women, in particular, hesitating to lift something just as heavy as her grocery bag or grandchild. For some reason, lifting a cast iron kettlebell seems different and is perceived differently than lifting a small child or a heavy suitcase.
My passion is to help a woman shift her perception of heavy lifting, and to help her feel empowered and in control of her own strength. Most of the time, it's simply accessing the strength she already has! She has just not had an opportunity to feel comfortable in a gym setting or to experience a progressive approach to strength training. This is where I come in!
My love for kettlebells lies in their accessibility. The fact that they have a handle helps to make them feel a little bit more like something we would pick up in everyday life. Starting off with kettlebell carries can be a way to familiarize ourselves with the object and the way it changes the way we hold ourselves in our postural alignment.
Once someone feels comfortable with the weight of the kettlebell, I apply progressive overload principles to guide our sessions. Ultimately, we are always looking to stay in what I call our "success zone" where our perceived exertion is around a 7 out of 10. This means that the kettlebell we are lifting for a particular task is not too heavy, not too light, but "just right."
This principle is helpful to remember when we are approaching different kettlebell-specific tasks. We might be learning a new skill for the first time, which would require a lighter kettlebell at first. We might be strong in our lower body and need a heavier bell to help us understand a movement, such as a deadlift, better. Or we might be recovering from a shoulder injury, and need to adapt our tissues over a period of time, more gradually.
Without enough feedback, it's hard to know how to hold ourselves. Without a heavy enough kettlebell, it's very difficult to strengthen our bodies - one of our primary goals! Without a heavy enough weight, we are spending much more time than we need for an efficient workout. And without a heavy enough kettlebell, we are depriving ourselves of invigorating cardiovascular stimulus!
Here are the reasons I think we need to challenge ourselves to use heavier kettlebells once we have some experience with kettlebell strength training movements:
1. A appropriately heavy object gives us FEEDBACK!
2. An appropriately heavy object allows us to get STRONGER!
3. An appropriately heavy object improves our strength training EFFICIENCY!
4. An appropriately heavy object provides CARDIOVASCULAR stimulus!
The video above is part of the SIMPLE CHALLENGE program I created to help you learn to kettlebell swing and Turkish Get-Up from the comfort of your own home. For the first 2 weeks, you don't need a kettlebell at all. Then you will get a feel for which kettlebell sizes you'll want to have handy for your strength training!
If you want to order your kettlebells right away get these ones:
1. A 4kg bell for mobility work
2. An 8kg bell for learning your skills
3. A 12kg bell for your carries and soon for your upper body dominant movements
4. A 16kg bell for your lower body dominant movements
Find them on the Kettlebell Page in the tab above.
-Karen Moffatt is a StrongFirst certified Kettlebell coach living in Toronto, Canada.