What are kettlebells?
A kettlebell (KB) looks like cannonball with a handle on it. Today there are hundreds of different designs and materials that you can choose from. Metal KB’s are made of either cast iron (traditional bells that increase in size with weight) or steel (competition bells that remain the same size regardless of weight). The beauty of the KB is that you can use it to develop strength, endurance, stamina and mobility. If I were shipwrecked on a desert island and had to choose one fitness tool, it would be the KB. The KB is also slightly unorthodox in that it isn’t made for modern comfort. The fact that the weight is separate from the handle means it reflects day-to-day objects we may lift (shopping bags, suitcase, briefcase, etc).
The real history of the KB remains somewhat of a mystery. There is a strong connection that it originates from Russia or Eastern Europe. It's believed that they were originally used as a measuring tool on the farm. Boys being boys, they took this measuring tool and turned it into a game to test their own feats of strength. The KB was born!
Why should I buy one and what weights should I get?
By purchasing a quality KB and treating it with care, it will outlive you. Aside from vertical pulling it covers pretty much all the human movements (pushing, horizontal pulling, pressing, hinging, squatting and carrying). With the right technical knowledge and desire to use it, the KB really can replace the gym for most people. I’d suggest purchasing purchasing one kettlebell initially. Once you have developed safe techniques, it maybe time to buy a second KB which is a little heavier.
What kind should I buy?
Firstly, avoid plastic ones like the plague. Yes, they might be cheaper but they are awful to use and will eventually crack. If the budget allows, buy a metal KB. In regards to cast iron or steel, I’m sitting on the fence. I appreciate that the cast iron type often have a thicker handle so they develop grip strength but for people with smaller or weaker hands, this may be a drawback. The benefit of the competition bells, although slightly more expensive, have a stable bottom for renegade rows and the unified sizes mean an 8kg moves around the hand like an 32kg would. I’ve used both iron and steel and I’ve adapted to using either. Unless you are a purest then I would suggest either is a great choice. When purchasing, take your potential KB for a walk (Farmer Carry). Can you walk around for 3 minutes in each hand without dropping it? Does the handle look well finished without lines or dents?
Where should I buy one and what brands should I look for?
Avoid large fitness chain stores. These pretenders often stock plastic crappy ones and are more concerned with profit margins than your fitness gains. Small sports stores and gyms often stock quality KB’s. Phoning ahead will prevent a wasted trip. Other options include the internet. Just be mindful of transport costs! GWC is not in bed with any manufacturer but would recommend the following brands:
How do I care fro my new child (KB)?
Store indoors away from sunlight and moisture.
Wipe it down after use on sand or grass.
Don’t drop it!