Ring My Bell

TipsforKettlebellingI’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


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  1. MizFit says:

    LOVE the K-Bells.

    loathe 🙂 the k-bells.

    ours is a relationship fraught with dichotomies.

  2. Erica says:

    Great review- I saw Mizfits use of this product and have been contemplating buying one.

  3. Marcy says:

    Those things are waaayyy too scary for me. I’d either whack myself in the face or one of the kids HAHAHA

  4. Tami says:

    Hmmm, now that’s interesting. I love the comment about the Turkish. *laughs*

    The thought of working my core without crunches appeals, but it sounds like these moves may be kind of hard on my knee. Getting up and down from the ground without weights is a ginger undertaking, and squats and lunges don’t sound much better.

    Would you recommend this to someone with a bum knee?

  5. tfh says:

    I’ve done Turkish get-ups, but in some ways they do seem to go against a lot of what I thought I knew about fitness (in terms of back/knee/proper lifting alignment). I think I feel the same trepidation about the ‘bell. But it also looks like a ton of fun to use– more like play than regular old weights.

  6. Sagan says:

    Still haven’t tried kettlebells yet- I do love regular dumbbells though. They look like a fun experiment! Thanks for the review.

  7. Cailey says:

    Thanks for the great review! Seems like these might be one of those “love ’em or hate ’em” products…but I think I’ll give it a try and see how it goes!


  8. Fian says:

    Swinging weights around? I’m so clumsy … I would be terrified of letting one of those babies go and smashing a hole in the living room wall! However did you manage to only bang the weight into yourself?! LOL There is a local outdoor kettleball camp I’ve considered, but the hours don’t work well with my schedule. Maybe I won’t give up on it yet.

  9. Danica says:

    Mr. R LOVES the workouts that involve these.. Me, not so much. I feel like a little baby when I’m holding one. They do work super good but are really expensive as well.

  10. Oh She Glows says:

    Thanks for the review…I was thinking of buying one as well but like you, I suspected that they may be just as good as traditional dumbbells. If I could use them in a gym for free I would, but I don’t think I will be buying them!


  11. Juliet says:

    Wow those kind of exercises must have been kind of challenging to do in front of the tv. I’ve always been curious about those cute little bell-balls so thank you for the great review!

  12. keyalus says:

    I had to do about 50 Turkish Getups (5 with each arm, 5 sets) with a 25lb kettlebell in CrossFit. My calves were crazy sore for the next 3 days. Nothing else, just my calves. I think it is the part where you go from lunging to standing with the weight above your head. I shudder when I think of Turkish Getups now.

  13. Erin says:

    I’m so glad others have the same opinion regarding the Turkish Get-Up! Glad I’m not just a wimp about it…

    And I agree: Something about all of those pretty colors make it seem less like work and more like play!

  14. women's fitness says:

    I love these things. Started using them at the gym and the aches the next day show they do their job! Wouldn’t use them at home though!


  15. Jill says:

    LOVE the KBs! Gotta wear wrist bands to protect the forearms/ wrists while learning.Otherwise YOUCH!!!
    KB concepts is where I got certified Level 1. Very thorough course and very concise about learning the proper form.The turkish get up sucks moose balls.
    Also fun to do KBs outdoors when weather permits.

  16. Jeannette says:

    I love Kettlebells. I wouldn’t do them just from a video, but would go to an RKC approved instructor for proper form. And as for holding on to them tightly, I think you may have that wrong. Some KB instructors recommend trying with oven gloves (true!) 🙂 so that you can get your grip corrected.

  17. Nina Buongiorne says:

    Hahaha! Those Turkish Get Ups can wear you out! As for the grip, you do not grip them tightly – you want a loose grip. The tighter you grip it, the more your forearms hurt the next day and the more blisters you may get. Love kettlebells! Art of Strength is also a great source for learning the moves with video tutorials.

  18. Amanda says:

    Agree with Jeannette–you should have a light grip so the handle can rotate freely in your hand. Otherwise the bell will tear apart your skin. Kettlebells are not something you just pick up a dvd for and start doing. It can look easy, but if you aren’t using the correct muscles, you’ll either not be getting near the benefit you could or you’ll get injured. For instance, your glutes are the power muscles for any of the hip-thrusting moves. If you feel the burn in your hamstrings, that means your glutes are weak and your hamstrings are taking up the slack. Squeeze those glutes! Well-trained personal trainers can make all the difference in any workout (and when that difference is between you getting injured or staying firm, that’s totally worth it)!. My friend bought a Jillian Michaels dvd and a kb and jumped in with it. After a couple months, she asked me for help. I showed her how she’s supposed to do it, and she said she had no idea and it felt totally different, but that it also made a lot more sense the way I showed her.