I’ve been dying to try a kettlebell for a while. I mean, who wouldn’t want to fling around a 10-pound ball of cast iron with a handle? But when a reader wanted more info on the trend, I decided I would take one for the team and give them a shot. I started out with a pretty yellow 10-pounder from GoFit, which came with an Iron Core introductory DVD giving the basics of kettlebelling (if not a verb before, it is now, folks).
The thought of slow, controlled movements gets thrown out the window when doing kettlebells. Because you swing kettlebells and get momentum going, you have to work your muscles hard to control the movements. The swinging definitely took some getting used to, but, according to Sarah Lurie, kettlebell expert and star of the Iron Core DVD, it serves a purpose. “Each kettlebell exercise uses your core muscles, so your abs get lean and sleek without having to do thousands of sit-ups,” she says. Awesome abs without crunches? I approve.
The DVD shows how to do five basic moves properly. I don’t think I fully succeeded with the “properly” part because on a couple of the moves I kept banging my forearm with the weight, meaning “improper form.” Ouch.
The first move on the DVD was the Turkish Get-Up, or what I call “the most awful move ever” or “Why are the Turkish into torture?” It involves lying on the ground and making your way to standing, all while holding the weight toward the ceiling—and then reversing back down. Arm swings with squats are another staple kettlebell move, as well as cleans and military presses, both of which were awkward for me. The deep squats involved the butt dropping well below the knee, like how you picture body builders squatting, and I had to just say no for my knees’ sake.
Because the DVD was fairly short and only included five moves, I decided to test out the bells further with a Self magazine workout. You do most of these moves for about eight reps, although this time I skipped the Turkish Torture. I was definitely feeling it by the end of the workout.
Bell Bonuses: The kettlebell has some high points. I felt really hard core doing the workout and my hamstrings were sore for days. It was definitely a new experience and worked some muscles I don’t typically hit.
Bell Blahs: While there were high points, I think the kettlebells had a few drawbacks as well. I was a little nervous about the jerkiness of some of the moves because I’m not used to that type of movement. Attention to form is necessary to ensure safety and avoid injury. Although some swear by the bells, I didn’t feel like it was anything I couldn’t do without a heavier dumbbell. And at $29.99 for a 10-pound weight, the bells are also pricier than a typical dumbell.
Tips for Kettlebelling
- Use your core for stability and control.
- Grip the weight tightly.
- Watch out for the wrist: Because of the handle’s positioning, increased torque on the wrist can increase the risk of injury.
- Don’t try to be tough. Use a lighter weight than you think you need when starting out.
While I’m not sure if the kettlebell is my new hero, I know some people are out there having love affairs with them. Do I just need to give it more time and another workout or two for my love to grow? Or should I chuck the bell and stick to weights? –Erin