Working with Kettlebells

Published on by David A. Kennedy

Kettlebells appeal to me because of their simplicity and scalability.

They take up little space and you can do easy or grueling workouts with them. They limit you to functional movements that mimic ones you’d do in life. More importantly for me, I’ve stuck with kettlebells for more than a year and my health and fitness has improved.

I first started using kettlebells in 2018 after purchasing Simple and Sinister, a workout program in book form by Pavel Tsatsouline. I began with kettlebell swings, pairing 30 swings with five minutes of rowing. After building up those numbers, albeit inconsistently, I started to get more serious last year. I attended a kettlebell training class to help hone my movements. I carved out a small workout space in my garage and hung up a pull-up bar. Then I bought more kettlebells, bringing my total up to five. For the past year, I’ve kept an extensive workout log. That log has held me accountable, building up weeks of consistent workouts. I’ve missed only for illness or travel.

I’ve stuck with kettlebells for a few reasons:

  • They’re flexible: You can do many kinds of exercises and workouts with them. I haven’t got bored yet.
  • They scale: I’ve done workouts as long as an hour and as short as 10 minutes. Easy and hard. Pairing them with rowing has meant I’ve found a low-impact replacement for running.
  • They’re inexpensive: For a few hundred dollars, I can replicate a minimalist gym setup and add to it as ready.

My favorite workouts, beside Simple and Sinister, include pairing kettlebell swings with pushups and Dan John’s Armor Building Complex. These have helped me keep workouts effective and simple. I’ve learned that it’s better to do a short workout each day than nothing at all. You have to “grease the groove” as Pavel says.

I hope to keep at it with kettlebells so I can maintain solid fitness well past middle age.

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