Do you work out with kettlebells?
I have been aware of them for years but quite skeptical about their role in the average gym-goers workout. To me, kettlebell training was obviously risky for the shoulders and back and the bouncing and locking in your hip and knee joints that is required to perform the form is…against everything I know about form!
So for years I have been anti-kettlebell. Recently I was lured into giving this old-school strength training technique another shot by promises of serious calorie burn, quick workouts, and full-body exercises.
I bought a kettlebell and some dvd’s.
Kettlebells can be really expensive but I totally cheaped out and bought the department store variety. It’s girly and pastel, not at all cannonball-like :). It turns out that 10 pounds is just right for one-armed moves and a little light for two armed moves for me.
I admit, I’ve only used the kettlebell 4 or 5 times since I gifted myself with it around Christmas so it’s impossible to say if I’ve seen results. The dvd’s are great, they give good descriptions for posture and technique and provide good workouts but I still felt like I was missing some vital keys in technique.
I thought that the only kettlebell training available at the gym was in conjunction with a cycle class. I don’t cycle. Maybe I will someday but for now I don’t cycle. I was thrilled to discover a kettle conditioning class tucked up in the corner of the Thursday morning group exercise schedule. This morning I got my tush out of bed and went.
The class was hard and good. My heart rate was seriously elevated for only about 10 minutes of the hour class but my muscles were quaking by the end. On the teachers recommendation I used 15 and 20 pound bells (mostly 15!) but I think a 10 pounder would have been more appropriate for some exercises.
I continue to have mixed feelings about the safety of kettlebell training. The bouncing and locking into the leg joints is less scary and treacherous than I previously thought, unless you hyper-extend your knees (which I don’t). I still have serious concerns about shoulder and back overuse issues.
By the end of class my low back hurt! My low back rarely hurts, which I attribute to regular Pilates workouts and good alignment/posture. It doesn’t feel like I strained anything, just like I overused it. Not to toot my own horn, but I have very good form and I am strong. I was keeping a long back with engaged abs the entire time and my back still feels yucky. My conclusion is that 60 minutes is way too long for a newbie to kettlebell training. The gym should offer a 30-45 minute intro class to build up strength and practice form.
I can only imagine how rough I would be feeling if I was “de-conditioned” and decided to jump into that class. OW!
My stand on kettlebells at this point is that they are a fantastic tool that I will continue to incorporate into my regular workouts but as a trainer and teacher I think it is crucial to take the time to build your technique and strength up slowly. And stop doing it if it bugs my back or shoulders!