Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gettin' On The Bell!

What would you say if someone asked you to try a method of strength training that would not only decrease body fat but increase stamina, increase flexibility, increase overall daily energy, help you develop lean muscle, and on top of all that, help you spend more time on the things you love by spending less time working out? I can't answer for you but I know I would be all over it! So I know what you're thinking, "exactly what is this 'miracle workout'?" and "what's the catch?" No catch! The answer is simple: Kettlebell Training.

Over the last 6 months I have been adding in kettlebell workouts to my regular workout routine and the difference I've seen in my body has been amazing! By nature I'm a cardio girl. I love any workout that gets me jumping and drenching with sweat! But no one can deny the many benefits of strength training (fat burning being a major one). I try to add in strength training 2 or 3 times a week and have actually become a big fan of working with weights. I enjoy "feeling the burn" and believe me, I drip just as much sweat lifting weights (maybe even more) as with my cardio workouts. So in an effort to add some variety to my weight training, I decided to try something new: kettlebell training. Now some of you who are reading this may be long time kettlebell users and some of you may have no idea what a "kettlebell" even is, so let's start from the beginning.

What Is A Kettlebell?
The kettlebell, also known as a "girya", was originally developed as a strength, power and cardio training aid in Russia. Most kettlebells are one solid piece of metal, a ball-shaped weight and a larger curved handle that should be large enough to accommodate both of your hands. Best physical description? Imagine a cannonball with a handle. Kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength. While kettlebells can be used like dumbbells in relatively static, controlled motions, they are best suited to powerful swinging exercises. The basic movements, such as the "swing", "snatch", and the "clean and jerk", engage the entire body at once, and in a way mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.

GoFit kettlebells range from 7 to 45 pounds
Kettlebell sizes range from 5 to 175 pounds. If you are in between kettlebell sizes or are unsure what size weight to use, it is always best to opt for the lighter size and work your way up as you develop confidence and technique. I actually started with a 4lb kettlebell (this is not a normal size, this was a specialty bell created and used for a particular workout program which I talk about in detail below), now I am using a 10lb bell. You may think that's a far jump from 4 to 10 pounds, but it actually was no big deal. The movements used in kettlebell workouts don't really require a lot of strength. While you are most definitely building your muscle strength and endurance, the movements rely a lot on momentum so going from a 4 to 10 pound bell was no problem at all. I got my 10lb bell from Target but the actual company that makes the bell is GoFit. They have a good variety of sizes and are reasonably priced.

6 Benefits To Kettlebell Training
So why should you get on the bell? Let's go over the benefits one more time:
  1. Increase Stamina. Many kettlebell users experience an increase in endurance when doing activities like sports. There have even been reports of kettlebell users who have run marathons without training for marathons but by only using kettlebells! Now while I would definitely recommend training properly for a marathon before hand, adding kettlebell training couldn't hurt, in fact it could only help, so all you runners out there may just wanna' get on the bell!
  2. Increase Overall Daily Energy. Feeling good is very important to having a productive life. Kettlebell users from all over the world report having increased energy and even feel like they can reverse the hands of time, often fixing injuries that have nagged them for years. This allows them to participate in activities they had stopped doing because of the injuries.
  3. A Decrease In Body Fat. Now this is a biggie and the one that everyone wants to know more about! Kettlebell exercises can be very demanding from an energy standpoint. Some exercises like the swing and the snatch burn up to twice as many calories per minute than traditional aerobic activities like spinning and kickboxing. One of the benefits of this is that kettlebell training forces your body to burn calories long after your exercise session is over (the "afterburn effect").
  4. The Development of Lean, Hard, "Bulk-Free" Muscles. I've said it before and I'll say it again, lifting weights (which is essentially what kettlebells are) will not make you big and bulky! Especially if you are a woman. Woman or man, you really have to try if you want to look like a bodybuilder. Exercising with kettlebells has produced the following noticeable effects - those who are overweight, lean out; those who are skinny put on just the right amount of muscle in the right places.
  5. Increase Flexibility. One of the wonderful "side effects" of using kettlebells is what appears to be automatic increases in flexibility. That's because this style of workout strengthens weak muscle groups while simultaneously loosening (and strengthening) tight muscle groups, restoring the body's default settings for flexibility, alignment, and muscle harmony.
  6. More Time To Do The Things You Love and Less Time Working Out. That pretty much sums it all up in my mind. What if you could work out and get twice the results in half the time? Kettlebells provide the very real option to see this occur in your life. 
These are just 6 benefits to a type of training that has dozens! So what are you waiting for? Go enjoy the wonderful benefits of kettlebell training today!

    Kettlebell Workouts That I Love
    So now that I've peaked your interest and you're maybe willing to give kettlebell training a try, I've got a few kettlebell workout dvds that I recommend. Check 'em out!

    My first kettlebell workout was a program called "Kettlenetics". Created by international fitness instructor Michelle Khai, Kettlenetics is a dance-inspired kettlebell exercise program that swings, slims, and sculpts your entire body. Kettlenetics is a fun and fast way to develop a stronger and more slender body. The Kettlenetics Slim and Tone Kit includes three Kettlenetics Slim and Tone Workouts on one DVD. The first two 20-minute workouts teach you the Kettlenetics basics, KB Elements teaches everything you need to know to get the most from your kBell and FlowMotion Basics gives you 360-degree body sculpting workout with unique standing and floor exercises. The 40-minute Cardio Balanced workout is a powerful fat burner that takes the kBell workout to the next level.

    The uniquely designed four-pound Kettlenetics kBell included in the kit is curved, sleek, and fits easily in your hand for smooth 360-degree full body-slimming movements. The kBell has an offset, sure-grip handle to better maneuver through creator Michelle Khai's innovative flowMotion movement patterns. Weighing just four pounds, the kBell is light enough to swing without undue stress, yet heavy enough to provide body-shaping resistance.

    Benefits of Kettlenetics:
    • 360-degree workouts for "full circle" body toning
    • Around-the-clock calorie burning
    • Whole-body resistance training
    • Maximum strengthening, cardio conditioning, and fat burning
    • Minimum workout time
    • Improved endurance and stamina
    • Boosted metabolism for quick calorie burning
    • Sculpts and tones the entire body
    Kettlenetics is a great introduction to kettlebell training. Standard kettlebell moves are featured in each workout, so you are introduced to typical kettlebell exercises as well. And the 4lb bell eases you right into the swing of things. At first I thought 4 pounds wouldn't really give me a good workout but by the end of the 40 minute workout I was dripping sweat. Kettlenetics really does work your entire body and gives a great workout!  The results were quick, too! I noticed my abs getting flatter and my thighs more toned after only week! To buy or find out more, click here.  /  RATING: 4 OUT OF 5

    Gin Miller's Calorie Burning Workout with Kettlebells
    Another great kettelbell workout which I use my 10lb kettlebell for is Gin Miller's Calorie Burning Workout with Kettlebells. Award-winning fitness professional, Gin Miller, introduces a new dimension in strength with the dynamics of kettlebell training. The results of this reactive-type of training are a higher caloric burn, enhanced core and joint stability and firmly sculpted muscles. This program is designed specifically to improve fitness conditioning and add a new variable in resistance training with contemporary modifications to traditional power techniques.  With an emphasis on neutral spine, a tight stable core, and attention paid to proper joint extension, Gin recommends the use of light to moderate kettlebells for this particular workout.

    Novice (new to kettlebell training): less than or up to 9lbs
    Practiced: less than or up to 12 lbs
    Expert: less than or up to 15 pounds

    This was my first time doing a workout instructed by Gin Miller and I was really impressed. Not only did she give a good workout but she made sure give good instruction by marking every move before we did it together. There are 3 workouts on this one dvd, with options of doing either Workout 1, 2 or 3 separately or doing all 3 together - no matter what option you choose, Gin gives you a good warmup before each workout. I really feel like my body is being taken care of every time I do this workout and I can't say that for all workout dvds that I have. To buy or find out more, click here.  /  RATING: 4 OUT OF 5

    Power Body: Kettlebell Bootcamp with Angie Miller 
    Last but certainly not least is Power Body: Kettlebell Bootcamp with Angie Miller. This workout is NO JOKE! And if you're a newbie I would definitely recommend you work your way up to this one! I do this one with my 10lb bell as well and I'm telling you, newbie or not, don't be surprised if you are sore for days! Presenter, educator, group fitness instructor and personal trainer Angie Miller looks sweet enough but this woman gives one mean workout!

    Blast calories, build endurance and optimize your workout time with Power Body Kettlebell Bootcamp! This workout is designed to have a quick learning curve while burning maximum calories. The key to getting the most out of this workout is to learn how to do the exercises properly and safely by following Angie's easy-to-learn tutorial. You can practice the exercises until you are comfortable and confident. You'll boost your metabolism and burn fat even while practicing! Power Body Kettlebell Bootcamp is designed for all fitness levels Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Throughout the workout, Angie uses a 15 pound kettlebell, but as said before, it's always best to opt for the lighter size and work your way up as you develop confidence and technique. This will allow you to experience continued improvement in your strength and overall fitness level. There is also a modifier who will show variations to the exercises that might require more flexibility, balance, or strength. To buy or find out more, click here.  /  RATING: 5 OUT OF 5

    I hope this has helped anyone who was either on the fence about trying kettlebell training or wanting to find more. It's an entirely different weight training workout like no other and the results you can achieve are amazing so I urge you, wait no longer, GET ON THE BELL!

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