March 17, 2021
A recent poll suggested that nearly 60% of Americans do not plan to renew their gym memberships after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. With at-home workouts continuing to rise in popularity and gym equipment finally resurfacing online at reasonable prices, it's time to discuss equipment necessities.
If you're fortunate enough to have an entire room or basement dedicated to your training space, go ahead and order tons of kettlebells and dumbbells and medicine balls. For a lot of us, space will be a huge factor to consider when planning a gym setup.
The good news is that you can absolutely get in a killer workout without any equipment, and you can even include household items such as laundry detergent or a bag of kitty litter to take it up a notch. If that’s not enough for you, I hear you. There are only so many shoulder presses I can do with the wine bottles in my apartment.
This is where kettlebells come into play. Kettlebells are my favorite piece of gym equipment, mainly because you can train your entire body with this one weight and it won't take up an entire room in your house. You don't even need a full set. One or two kettlebells is all you need to get in a full workout.
Kettlebells are versatile because they improve your cardio while increasing your strength training at the same time. When I say cardio, I'm referring to the type of strength training that increases your heart rate so much that you can barely speak. Many kettlebell movements are fast paced exercises; they cannot be performed slowly or they will be done incorrectly. Kettlebell swings and snatches, for example, are full-body strength exercises that require an increase in power output. They not only push your muscles, but your respiratory system too.
Another great selling point for kettlebells is that because their weight is not evenly distributed, your body has to learn how to work with a changing center of gravity. In real life, nothing has the weight as evenly distributed as a dumbbell, so kettlebells are great tool for learning how to move oddly shaped objects.
Rather than ordering an entire set, try starting with two kettlebells of the same weight. Choose a weight that you could use for your upper body. Think about a weight that you would be able to press over your head with one arm, and if that seems too daunting, you always have the option to start with both arms. By investing in two kettlebells of the same weight, you're giving yourself the flexibility to train your upper body with one bell as well as your lower body using both. Having two equal sized kettlebells allows you to perform squats, deadlifts and lunges using both at the same time for double the weight.
Kettlebells are a bit tough to master because of the way they are shaped, as well as the power output needed to use them. Kettlebell-specific exercises, like swings, are fast paced and require perfect form. Once you get the movement down, these exercises will be great additions to your training repertoire. But don't rush into anything, because that can lead to injury.
Before performing kettlebell swings and snatches, seek out videos and programs dedicated to teaching the proper form. Bells-Up is a personal favorite that focuses on form through online videos. Until you feel confident and experienced using kettlebells, start with basic strength training movements and use the kettlebell as another form of weight. For instance, try goblet squats and walking lunges while holding the weight at your chest or by your side.
Try out this kettlebell focused workout and see what all the hype is about.