How essential are kettlebells?

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footballer55

Level 2 Valued Member
hi,
In my home gym I have no kb's, should I get some? What are the perks of kettle bell use? And are there any specific brands I should buy?
Thanks,
Mike
 

RobbieF

Level 5 Valued Member
This is a good question! but I can't really answer this question for you: this is all going to depend on your goals, injury history and basically what you like to do in your training. A home gym is personal and very subjective to it's owner.

If your goal is maximal strength a barbell is going to be more efficient than kettlebells; if your goal is conditioning a kettlebell is going to more efficient than a barbell, etc.

Here's what I like about kettlebells:
  • You can take them and train with them anywhere anytime
  • Their ability to condition you without beating up your body
  • Some exercises are just better with a kettlebell or offer you a good variation of a lift you could do with a barbell
  • Versatility: they can help you train for a heavy deadlift, an MMA fight or a marathon
The exercises I like doing with a kettlebell are:
  • 2 handed and 1 handed swings: you cannot emulate this exercise with a dumbell or any other implement. The swing is the undisputed king of the kettlebell world: it will give you a massive cardiovascular hit, it will increase your power production, as well as activate your hamstrings and glutes to a really high degree. Others have claimed it has rehabbed their back as well.
  • Military Press: this is my favourite kind of press. I find that a dumbell and a barbell put a lot of stress on the shoulders. A kettlebell press is relatively easy on the shoulders and promotes a nice pressing path that no other implement can manage, in my opinion.
  • Double front squat: this really hits the abs and quads hard. I really like a barbell front squat and kettlebell front squat is an amazing variation to go alongside the barbell version

That would be my list of kettlebell exercises. I have not included a turkish get ups and windmills in there because you could perform it with a dumbell and see similar benefits. However, I like to perform these with a kettlebell because it gives you better wrist and shoulder stability.

Again, this list of exercises and reasons why I like kettlebells are completely personal. If money is an issue and you're a powerlifter or someone who competes in power sports a barbell would be your tool of choice. A kettlebell may help you but is it worth the financial investment?

As for brands, dragondoor kettlebells seem to be the gold standard of kettlebells. Rogue kettlebells also get good reviews. If you're going to invest in kettlebells, get the cast iron or competition style bells, do not get vinyl, rubber or plastic bells.

If you're buying kettlebells and if you're reasonably strong I would suggest a 16kg, 24kg and a 32kg. For the time being I would only invest in single kettlebells, not doubles. Learn how to swing, squat, clean, press and get up and master these exercises before moving onto double bells!

Give us some information about your training as well. Also before you invest and you haven't tried kettlebell training before, try to find a place that has kettlebells and get a coach or someone in the know to instruct you and see if you like them!
 
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Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
I 100% agree with @Geoff Chafe and @RobbieF, I'll just add a bit more...
If you have someone who can teach you how to do a proper swing, get up, etc., then kettlebells would probably be a good investment. If it's just you and the internet, I would think twice, or at least see if you can get some online/Skype training done. I remember you mentioning that your primary focus is football. Assuming that, the barbell is still probably your best friend (disclaimer: I'm not a football coach), but swings are a great means of conditioning and get ups will help make your shoulders much more resistant to injury. Actually, even if you don't get kettlebells, I would recommend adding a few dumbbell TGUs to your warm up if you don't do them already, just to help avoid shoulder issues from heavy barbell pressing. I also like kettlebells because if you have to leave your home gym for a while, you can throw the bell in the trunk of the car and continue to improve (or at least maintain) your fitness. Note: If you put a kettlebell inside the car with you, make sure you secure a seat belt through the handle...

As far as brands, I have ones from Rogue and Fringesport. Rogue is solid, no complaints. Fringesport can be a little cheaper since they don't charge for shipping, and their products are 90% as good as any of the more expensive brands. You might have to take some 220 grit sandpaper to the handle to smooth it out, but everything else is spot on.
 

JonS

Level 7 Valued Member
I have the following brands:

- Dragondoor: I own 2 of these, they have performed well. A bit expensive. Finish is excellent.

- Perform Better: I own 2 of these, older models and have performed well. Finish is faded on mine, but I like the feeling. Decent pricing. I don't like the way the new perform better bells look in their internet pictures.

- Ader: I own 1 of these, my 32kg. Love the way this bell feels in the hand. A bit smooth on the handle for some folks. Pretty good pricing.

- Rogue: own two of these, a 28kg and a 36kg. Feel is good, finish sucks IMO. I've sanded both handles down to smooth them out. On "Big" Al Ciampa's 103 plan, I ripped my calluses off with the 36kg. They are fine post-sanding. Best priced bell.

Bottom line, I like them all. When I purchase a 40kg, it will likely be a toss up between the Rogue and Ader.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
One must choose correct tools for the job, you choose a hammer to drive down nails, not a saw. Occasionally you have things like knives that you must use for other than their primary purposes. I think kettlebells are very much like that.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Are they "essential?" Probably not. Are they fun? Yes, very. For swings, snatches, and presses they feel and perform better than dumbbells, especially on the swings and snatches.

As far as brands, Paradigm Pro (kettlebellsusa.com) makes nice competition kettlebells and good cast iron KBs at a great price. MDUSA also makes a nice competition KB at a good price. Yes, I'm different because I like competitions KBs, but I also starting to compete in KB competitions so it makes sense to train with the tool you will use in competition.
 

JamesO

Level 4 Valued Member
As far as brands go, when we get more hardstyle bells, they'll be the Metrixx Classic from kettlebellsusa.com. We've had a full set of Rogue bells, one Ader, a pair of Punch, and worked extensively with DD bells in the studio, which is when I started to much prefer the E-coat finish found on the Dragon Doors to the powder coat found on our Rogues.

The studio only had one 28kg, so my coach brought in his Metrixx Classic 28kg so that I could work with a pair. I could not tell the DD and the Metrixx apart. Since then we've picked up a 40kg Metrixx Classic for home use. The KettlebellsUSA website isn't the most confidence inspiring, but I'll never buy a different brand of cast iron bell again.

My wife prefers competition bells due to the narrower handles, so we sold our Rogues to get a set of the Training Bells from Vulcan Strength. You can probably find the discussion here where they were recommended. They're great bells, and we got them 40% off with free shipping on Black Friday, but some still haven't come. They're stuck in China. The ones that have come are nice. The handles are a little wide and tend to hit my inner thighs when I swing. Beyond that, no complaints other than customer service. The handles do have more texture than I'd prefer.
 

JonS

Level 7 Valued Member
As far as brands go, when we get more hardstyle bells, they'll be the Metrixx Classic from kettlebellsusa.com. We've had a full set of Rogue bells, one Ader, a pair of Punch, and worked extensively with DD bells in the studio, which is when I started to much prefer the E-coat finish found on the Dragon Doors to the powder coat found on our Rogues.

The studio only had one 28kg, so my coach brought in his Metrixx Classic 28kg so that I could work with a pair. I could not tell the DD and the Metrixx apart. Since then we've picked up a 40kg Metrixx Classic for home use. The KettlebellsUSA website isn't the most confidence inspiring, but I'll never buy a different brand of cast iron bell again.

My wife prefers competition bells due to the narrower handles, so we sold our Rogues to get a set of the Training Bells from Vulcan Strength. You can probably find the discussion here where they were recommended. They're great bells, and we got them 40% off with free shipping on Black Friday, but some still haven't come. They're stuck in China. The ones that have come are nice. The handles are a little wide and tend to hit my inner thighs when I swing. Beyond that, no complaints other than customer service. The handles do have more texture than I'd prefer.
Add the Metrixx to my list for consideration.
 

James F. Thomas

I Worship At The Church Of Iron
Certified Instructor
This is a great question for anyone but your answer especially on here will be subjective:

I think to start your strength training journey via the weight the KB is the best tool to build your foundation. The bell requires physiological stability, will point out lack of mobility/stability in joints, and the spherical design of the bell cause a constantly shifting force you must control through th movement. O yeah not to mention the arrangement in which you hold the bell demands wrist and grip strnegth that would happen at the same level during the barbell. You go barbell first with no grip strength and I garuntee you'll compensate and injure yourself.

Practicality alone again causes the bell to be the top choice for foundation skills building. One bell alone can offer strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular training. Show me 5 studies in which you can increase your running stamina and speed with one barbell or dumbell exercise, you can do this with the swing. Personally I have done it with my own training and my clients. The hip hinge is the main motion in kettlebell lifting and guess what motion is present in most of our daily physical locomotion, yep the hip hinge.

The bell works upper body, lower body, anti rotation, time under tension, and trainins you in a functional manner with so much carry over you might sell all your other weights.

Now yes for overall max strength in certain situations the barbell will give you more resistance but remember that strength is about control and movement capability not just the max amount of weight you can lift.

Bells are cheaper per unit then an entire dumbbell or barbell set, they are much smaller, saving you room, and the programing for the bell is retarded simple. You can lift bells alone, using your friend the wall and really gain so proficiency in the lifts quickly. i would dare to even say that the transfer is greater from bell to barbell than vice versa. O yeah Lou Simmons one of the best barbell lifters and coaches swears by the Kb swing to increase full body power in his barbell lifts.

Start out with the bell then move on. Make sure you practice the big 6 movements and your gonna create a wide base of functional strength and conditioning. Big 6 (swing, clean, squat, press, snatch, and TGU). O yeah the TGU and the swing alone can replace your weight training program and allow you to focus on body weight strength.

Types of bells: dragondoor used to be the standard until people figured out they could contact metal workers and start creating making their own lines so now they have so many brands with the matching quality the preferences differ from girya girya. I would say perform better, usa kettlebells, or even apollo bells, but really get online or FB and just buy a military grade cat iron bell and see what you like. I personally like the gritty look of the apollo bells with the fatter handles but that's me.

I hope my rant helped you out.
 
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