Kettlebells for aerobic and anaerobic exercise


If lean muscle mass is your goal, consider incorporating kettlebells into your workouts. They will also assist in improving body composition as well as joint and bone health.

Older than barbells and dumbbells, kettlebells originated in Russia in the time of Peter the Great as a standardised weight measure for farmers. By the 20th Century their success and popularity as exercise equipment saw them incorporated into the Soviet army’s physical fitness training regime – and let know one doubt the rigour of that programme.

An all-round workout

The unique shape of kettlebells (think cannonballs with a handle like a kettle) means you need to engage your core and glutes to keep the kettlebell stable, as its centre of gravity is not centred, so they require full-body functional movements, incorporating several muscle groups for each exercise.  A good addition to weightlifting (and perfect if you don’t want to bulk up) kettlebell training also improves power and endurance while taxing both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Additional comprehensive benefits from a kettlebell workout

Kettlebell exercises also promote coordination among all muscles of the posterior kinetic chain, an important link running up the back of the body that includes the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles.

Kettlebells can help if you are pressed for time

15-20 minutes of kettlebell swings will increase your heart rate and work most muscles in your body.  This kind of high intensity training offers the ability to burn fat, as it increases your metabolism. Simplify your fitness routine with these four kettlebell exercises:

  • the swing
  • the clean
  • the press
  • the snatch

Endless combinations will improve your strength, power and endurance.

Kettlebell challenge

Once you have become proficient in the exercise and worked up to higher weights you might try this ‘swing to failure’ test of strength endurance. Using a 50lb or 20kg kettlebell as a standard weight for all, the key performance variant is duration, with the aim of increasing it over time.

Method: keep your feet firmly connected to the ground, driving through your legs and hips, keeping your arms relatively relaxed. Your hips should be the main driving force of the weight.

NOTE: before starting a kettlebell fitness routine take personal instruction from a qualified trainer to help avoid nasty bumps and bruises. ALWAYS start with a light kettlebell, to avoid back and shoulder injuries, increasing kettlebell weight as you become stronger.

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Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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