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HomeOnline LibraryArticlesKettlebell Training › Kettlebell Training - Basic Concepts

The benefits of kettlebell training for fat loss, strength training, explosive power, and muscle building

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By Mike Mahler

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"Stuck in a rut? Bust out of it in a big way with a kettlebell workout. This old-school piece of equipment is a throwback to the dawn of strength training; many of you may not be familiar with it. After a brief introduction to its physique -building values, we feel confident you'll soon give kettlebells-style training a try."
- Joe Weider, Editor of Muscle & Fitness Magazine

It is time to train like a man again (especially if you are a woman) and get back in touch with visceral impulse that has been locked away for years. No need to purchase a gym membership or spend $1000s on expensive equipment. Two kettlebells are all that you need to increase muscular endurance, lose fat, and build size and strength. Kettlebells do not take up much space so you can train in your apartment, backyard, garage, or go outside and get some fresh air. Kettlebell training is a form of training that will not only improve the appearance of your physique, it will give you strength and mental toughness that you did not know was even possible. Is kettlebell training the be all end all of working out? No, it is simply a very effective way to train and enhance whatever program you are on.

What is a kettlebell? Glad that you asked. Imagine a black bowling ball with a suitcase handle on it and you have an idea of what a kettlebell looks like. A kettlebell is a big hunk of iron that comes in several sizes: 8lbs, 12lbs, 18lbs, 26lbs, 35lbs,44lbs, 53lbs, 70lbs, 80lbs, 88lbs, 97lbs and for super strong men and women 105lbs! You can do standard weight training exercises with kettlebells such as: bench presses, curls, and rows. However, the unique value of kettlebells is derived from ballistic (fast exercise) work such as: snatches, swings, cleans, and jerks. In addition, to giving your incredible muscular endurance when done in high repetitions, with a proper nutrition plan any excess fat that you have will melt off rapidly.

Ballistic exercises are not the only exercises that you can benefit from, kettlebell exercises such as: the Turkish get-up, Bent Press, and Windmill will develop a rock-hard midsection and increase shoulder flexibility and stability. As a result many chiropractors are using kettlebells with their patients for rehab. If you are a man that wants to increase size and strength, try doing some of my favorite kettlebell exercises: Double Clean and Press, Double Front Squat, Renegade Row, Double Swing, and the Double Clean (Scroll down for more info). If you are a woman that wants to lose weight and tighten up your glutes, quads, abs, and arms, apply a steady diet of kettlebell training ballistic work with some low rep kettlebell training strength work and you are all set.

You may be thinking that you could do all of the above exercises with dumbbells. While this is true, anyone that has used both will tell you that kettlebells are much harder to handle and yes in this case, harder is much better. Kettlebell handles are much thicker than dumbbells and will give you a vice grip in no time. Also, the off centered weight of a kettlebell will force you to use more stabilizer muscles and work the targeted muscles through a longer range of motion. For combat athletes and anyone else that likes it tough, the ballistic shock of kettlebells teaches you how to absorb shock efficiently which is critical for combat sports such as: wrestling, MMA, football, and Hockey. The above reasons are why MMA fighters such as Frank Shamrock, BJ Penn, and Fedor enhance their workouts with kettlebells. Also, it is why top strength coaches such as Ethan Reeve and Louie Simmons recommend kettlebell training to their athletes. Athletes are not the only ones that are hooked on kettlebell training. Members of the entertainment world such as Chris Pontius of MTV's JackAss and WildBoyz and Harley Flannagan, founder of the legendary NYC hardcore band "The Cro-Mags" have attended my kettlebell workshops and are ecstatic about Kettlebell training. Both Chris and Harley talk to everyone they know about the benefits of kettlebell training and you will as well after you attend one of my seminars.

Still skeptical? try the following experiment with a dumbbell. Take a dumbbell and try doing three sets of twenty one-arm swings (see description on next page). After you have done twenty swings with one arm, switch hands and do another twenty reps. Continue to go back and forth until you have done three sets of twenty reps. Now if you thought that was hard, imagine making that exercise several times harder with a kettlebell. Imagine how much fat your will burn and how your muscular endurance will go through the roof. No doubt about it, high rep kettlebell training is an aerobic workout and great alternative to stepping classes, spinning classes, and anything else that strips you of our manhood and makes you feel like a jack ass. If you feel like a jack ass when you do something, then it is probably something that you should avoid unless you are getting paid well ;-) Personally, I actually like to get results from my training and I am sure you do to. A balanced kettlebell training program combined with a solid worth ethic and healthy nutrition plan is a sure-fire recipe for success.

I have been training with kettlebells for over ten years and I have never been in better shape. In addition to being lean and strong, my body has learned how to work as one unit. My muscular endurance and mental toughness have improved tremendously. Best of all, I do not have to go to the gym to get an incredible workout. Give kettlebells a shot for three months and I sincerely doubt that you will ever want to go back to barbell curls and leg raises. Once you have been infected with the power of kettlebell training, there is no going back. Take a look at the exercises below for more information.

Live Life Aggressively!

Mike Mahler

Are you interested in burning fat, building muscle, or increasing strength and stamina? Then kettlebell training is a fit for you. If not, then stay on the couch and keep watching four hours of TV everyday while life passes you by.

Level 1 Beginner Kettlebell Workshop DVD

If you are new to kettlebells or want to master the basics this is the DVD for you.

More Information

Mike Mahler Interview On The Many Beneficial Applications of Kettlebell Training

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Is kettlebell training the ultimate way to train?

A: No one system is the ultimate way to train. Do not kid yourself as training is not a black and white world. Is kettlebell training effective for fat loss, strength training, and building muscle? Yes and it is a super fun way to train. In order to keep training interesting, you have to keep it fun and kettlebells are a great fit. You can benefit from kettlebell focused programs or you can incorporate kettlebell training into your current regimen. There is something for everyone.

Q: Are kettlebell exercises dangerous?

A: Only when done with poor form. However, any exercise is dangerous even pushups and lame machine exercises when poor form is used. People die every year from bench pressing. Thus far, there have been no deaths related to KB training yet. Of course, I am sure some idiot will change that statistic some day. Bottom line is most people will require in person instruction to maximize the benefits of kettlebell training safely. Kettlebell DVD's while useful are not a replacement for in person instruction. That said, top strength trainer Bud Jeffries stated if you cannot learn how to use kettlbells from Mike Mahler's The Kettlebell Solution For Size And Strength  then you are in big trouble and should not bother weight training period!

Q: Is kettlebell training effective for fat loss?

A: Yes however pushing yourself away from the table more often and cutting krispy creme out of your diet is even more effective. Fat loss is 70% diet and 30% training. Unless you are a professional athlete where training is your job. Do not kid yourself into thinking that you train like a professional athlete unless you are one. Kettlebell training can be a very effective way to ramp up your metabolism. However, anyone that tells you that you can lose fat with kettlebell training and a crappy diet is doing you a disservice. Kettlebell Training Fat Loss DVD

Q: Is Kettlebell training effective for building muscle?

A: What do barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells all have in common? All three are forms of weight training. Thus, just as barbells and dumbbells are effective for building muscle, kettlebells are effective as well. That said, nothing takes the place of progressive weight training with barbells. Barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, Barbell Military Presses, and weighted dips are among the kings of muscle building. If your main goal is to build muscle then you are better off with barbells. If your have been training with barbells and dumbbells for a while and want a new stimulus then kettlebell training is a great fit. Also, kettlebells are great for building the shoulders, hamstrings, and arms. Kettlebells are not the best fit for quad development and of course calf development. A combination approach utilizing kettlebells and barbells is a very effective way to go. For a more info on KB Training for size and strength, go to: The Kettlebell Solution For Size And Strength . Finally if your testosterone and growth hormone levels are low then forget about putting on muscle. It is just not going to happen. Get some blood work done with your Doctor and see where you are at.

Q: I want to get stronger without getting bigger. Is kettlebell training for me?

A: Yes, this is one of the most popular benefits of kettlebell training. Women for example love kettlebell training as it helps them tone up and lose fat without over developing muscles. Truth be told, building muscle is not easy for men and especially women so that should be the least of your worries. Worrying about getting too big is like worrying about making too much money. That said, kettlebell training is very popular with members of the armed services, secret service, law enforcement community, and anyone else that wants functional strength that carries over to real world activities such as sitting on the coach and using the remote control ;-) Just kidding.

Q: Do women use kettlebells?

A: Only the smart ones ;-) Yes I work with women all of the time at my workshops and they love kettlebell training. Especially exercises such as swings, one-legged deadlifts, and The Windmill. Swings and One-legged deadlifts tighten up the glutes and hamstrings and the Windmill is great for the midsection. Women tend to believe the illusion that they will turn into "Arnold" just be looking at weights. Fortunately, top kettlebell instructors such as Lisa Shaffer and Lauren Brooks are perfect examples of the benefits of kettlebell training for women. Check out their sites today and get over the irrational fear once and for all that you will turn into "The Hulk" with weight training. Here is a testimonial from Michelle Wong:

"I really love working out with my kettlebells. Especially the swings & clean and presses. Working out with traditional weights has always kept me really strong but about 6 months ago, I started noticing that I was having trouble picking up my very muscular 5 year old (he was about 70 pounds) who also lifts traditional weights as well as kettlebells. He kept saying "Mommy, you need to lift more weights." So, I started working out with the kettlebells and the explosive movements in these exercises have enabled me to pick him up as though he was only 20 pounds. The only thing I can attirbute the change to is the introduction of the kettlebell training and specifically the clean and presses which I believe is the same basic movement as picking him up. Fantastic exercises and an absolute necessity for moms!"
- Michelle Wong

Q: Are kettlebells popular with athletes?

A: Many athletes are enjoying the benefits of kettlebell training. Some examples are MMA fighters Frank Shamrock, Frank Trigg, Bob Sapp, and Tait Fletcher. Many celebrities such as Chris Pontius (Movie Jackass) the band "Korn" and Harley Flannagen of "The Cro-mags" are also enjoying the benefits of kettebell training. Kettlebells are a natural fit for athletes and this trend will continue. For a great KB DVD for athletes, go to: The Kettlebell Solution For Speed And Explosive Strength

Q: Is kettlebell training a fit for martial artists?

A: It sure is and two of the top martial arts strength coaches Steve Cotter and Steve Maxwell are big fans of kettlebell training. No doubt their stamps of approval carry a lot of weight as both are highly respected members of the martial arts community. Make sure you check out Steve Cotter's website for more info at www.ikff.net

Q: Is kettlebell training great for lazy people?

A: Nope but watching TV and eating junk food is. When you are ready to take charge of your health think about getting some kettlebells and actually using them.

Q: If kettlebell training is so great how come they are not in every gym in the country?

A: Having worked for a major fitness club chain in the past, I can tell you first hand that the main goal of a fitness club is to make money and keep liability costs low. Thus the trend in most clubs is to have more machines and less free weights. While machines are not as effective as free weights, they are much easier to use and require minimal instruction. Thus, less of a need for highly skilled trainers. If a gym adds kettlebells they also have to pay to have their trainers educated in proper kettlebell instruction. They much rather spend money on their sales staff as most of the income health clubs generate are from membership sales. The potential client that has not signed up yet is often more important than the client that has already joined. Thus many gyms spend the majority of their income on attracting new members not getting results for existing members. Now there is nothing wrong with making money as that is an important goal for every business. Regardless, few gyms realize that they could make more money by providing exceptional offerings to their clients. Unfortunately, the clients that gyms prefer are the ones that sign up for a year and never show up. The ones that actually use the gym regularly are costly. No doubt a more progressive gyms could make a lot of money with kettlebell classes. Especially kettlebell classes targeted towards women. Finally, the last think a fitness club wants you to know is that you can get in great shape at home with a few kettlebells. You only need one or two kettlebells to get in great shape. Just about anyone can afford this and has room for a few bells that can easily go in a closet. However, very few people could afford to have expensive machines at home. Thus it s better to convince the client that he she needs expensive equipment to achieve his or her goals. Personally, you are better off in smaller gyms which focus more time on their clients.

Q: What size kettlebell should I start off with?

A: Check out my Kettlebell Buyer's Guide Kettlebell Buyer's Guide

Q: Where do I get kettlebells?

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Q: Where can I get some in person instruction with kettlebells?

A: Attend one of my workshops and you will not be disappointed. I have done over 100 and have never received any negative feedback. Check out my schedule at: Kettlebell Workshop Schedule

Q: I have kettlebells and I am having trouble with program design. Can you help me?

A: Yes and click here for more info: Mike Mahler Personalized Program Information

Q: Do you offer Kettlebell training certifications?

A: No and my friends Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn have the best Kettlebell certification around:

Click on the banner below for more info on the best kettlebell certification around!

Q: I still have some more questions. What should I do?

A: Email me at mahler25@yahoo.com

Q: What are some sample Kb exercises?

A: See the next page »



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