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Postby Michael Jen on Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:36 pm

Kettlebells are one of the most effective functional weight training systems. If you are looking for functional strength by using weights, bodybuilding is at the bottom, powerlifting is in the middle, and kettlebells are at the top.

Why are kettlebells so effective?

1. It is a fully body lever system. If you look at functional movement in your life, it requires the use of your entire body, so it makes sense to train by using your entire body. Full body lever systems also decrease your ability to overdevelop certain parts of your body. For example, many men who do bodybuilding type of weight training tend to over-build their upper bodies and have "chicken legs". Full body lever systems, like kettlebells, will find your "weakness".

2. Additional axis of movement. Many kettlebell exercises can be done with dumbells. However, the design of the kettlebell offer an additional axis of movment that is not offered by dumbells. This means there are many more exercises and variations that can be done with kettlebells which cannot be done with dumbells.

3. Off set center of gravity. If you hold a dumbell, you hold it right in the middle which is the easiest place to balance and lift. You are hold it right at its center of gravity. If you hold a kettlebell, you will notice that you are not holding it at its center of gravity. Why does this matter? When we look at functional strength, let's look at movement in every day life. Look at all the things you pick up and lift. Move some furniture. Take out the garbage. Do some construction. How often are you lifting an object exactly at it's center of gravity? Rarely. When you pick up and lift most things in life, you will see that the weight is offset.

Now this next part is the part that I know many people will ignore......As great as kettlbells are, not everyone should be using them right away. Like any form of strength training, if you are not familiar with the postural dysfunctions that exist in your body (or body of a client if you are a trainer), you can make your body worse. A fully functional body can do any kettebell exercise, however, those kinds of bodies simply don't exist in today's society anymore.

Generally speaking, a person should only begin to do certain kettlebell exercises once their bodies are on or very close to the gravity line (this means that from both side views, their ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder joints are vertically aligned) This also means that the person should have little or no rotation in their bodies.

This is an important key to remember because many exercises in kettlebell exercises are unilateral. The worse aspect of unilaterality in a body is having rotation. If a body is extremely unilateral, unilateral exercises will enhance the unilaterality in that body (and the body is designed to be bilateral).
Michael Jen

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