Can Kettlebells Build Muscle?

 
 
The question “can kettlebells build muscle” comes up almost weekly.
 
My answer?
 
Yes. End of article.
 
Ok, you might need a little more information than that.
 
Any modality can build muscle as long as there’s progressive intensity and volume combined with a caloric surplus and enough rest to facilitate growth. That goes for bodyweight training, dumbbells, barbells, sandbags, etc. As long as the muscle fibers are stimulated with enough weight for a long enough time you’re golden.
 
So why don’t we see huge kettlebellers?
 
There’s a few reasons here…
  1. Too much ballistic work with not enough weight
  2. Too many circuits that burn too many calories
  3. That’s not the goal for most
When I owned and operated a kettlebell-centric gym do you know how many people came in saying “I want to get huuuuuuuuge!” 
 
I can’t even remember one. 
 
The goals were always I want to...
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Flow State and Flow Workouts

 

By: Aaron Guyett, M.A., B.S., CSCS, FRCms, FRAs

Education Director and Master Coach 

So many people are talking about flow, and there is an equal amount of people that have zero clue what these flow-people are doing.

Turns out, many of the flow-people are just using yet another term that has been watered down and turned into whatever feels good at the time.

Person 1 - "Check out this flow that I am doing with the kettlebell." (performs cool sequence of fluid and dynamic movements with a kettlebell)

Person 2 - "I am so flowing right now." (Really into a video game)

Person 3 - "I am flowing." (Gives dog a treat...)

Let's break down what flow state is, and then we can begin to see how flow workouts began to exist in the fitness industry and the Gram (as in Instagram).

Flow State is a heightened state of arousal and focus, also know as being in the "zone."

If you have played sports or even been really into a creative craft or competition...you may have experienced flow state.

Let's...

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5 Single Leg Exercises for Strength and Athleticism

 
The squat, deadlift and Olympic lifts (or weightlifting if you’re a purist) have rightfully taken the spotlight in most training we can’t ignore the fact that single leg work is extremely powerful. 
 
For most trainers unilateral work is what you do during rehabilitation or as some accessory work to your main lift of the day and typically this works. The main problem lies when things become one size fits all and those who really shouldn’t be loading a bar are doing so from the advice from a well-intentioned coach. 
 
Back issues, lower body mobility, and imbalances can all lead to more serious ailments if ignored. Just because you’re going heavier and progressing with the “big lifts” doesn’t mean anything if you’re just becoming a more imbalanced lifter. Unilateral work is not only a way a good way to increase coordination and balance, but also strength while taking the pressure off the old spine.
 
When it...
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5 Ways to Build Gorilla Strength with the Pull-up

 
If I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one piece of equipment to train a fighter at any level (who would apparently only be fighting me) it would have to be a good ‘ol fashioned pull up bar and a kettlebell. Yes, that’s two pieces. I also break the rules.
 
The ground can give you a fantastic strength and conditioning session with calisthenics, plyometrics, body flows, and more, but the pull up bar will help you build a powerful upper body, grip and core..all crucial for the strength to survive in your deserted predicament.
 
There are many reasons you should be doing (a lot) of pull ups and variations and I don’t just mean throwing in a couple of half-assed sets towards the end of your workout. 
 
Reason #1 - It hits a lot of muscles at once
Let’s get the obvious reason out of the way that the pull up and it’s friends are compound movements that will give you the most bang for your buck. With each pull you...
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3 Ways to Avoid Kettlebell Injuries

If you train hard and push your body to the limits it’s almost impossible to avoid some form of microtrauma, but being smart about your training and kettlebell training will help you avoid MOST major injuries.
 
Most of the time the overuse of any movement pattern will eventually lead to potential repetitive use injuries. That goes for running, pushups, kettlebells work, or just about anything done with too much volume and intensity. 
 
It’s easy to get a little overzealous with a challenge that has a thousand attached to it. Thousands of swings, snatches, squats, (pick your poison) will definitely get you fitter, but at what cost? With just about everything you do you should be thinking about your athletic longevity. How can you move like an athlete as long as humanly possible. 
 
For me that means avoiding injury and here are three ways I like to assess and incorporate things to help me do just that.
  1. Always look at the Risk/Reward of...
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7 Tips When There is No Time To Workout

 
It happens to all of us. The best intentions and well-thought out plans will inevitably be taken over by the duties of work, parenthood, or even just laziness. A good workout will do more than just make you sweat. The thing I try to impart on every attendee to a certification or workshop is that LESS IS MORE. More often a shorter, concentrated session can be far more beneficial than a long, drawn out sweat-fest. With that said there will be times when you’ve allotted yourself an hour that magically transforms into 10-20 minutes. Here are 7 tips to get the most from a session cut short or even if you just need a break and want to get more from less. 
 
The main thing is you can’t let it get to you. Stress is a killer and the added stress of trying to fit in a 60 minute session when you can do an incredible amount of work in fifteen minutes will ruin a perfectly good workout. Attitude is everything and when minutes matter you can’t waste any of that...
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What Size Kettlebell?

 
What is a good starting weight for kettlebells?
 
So you’re sold on the idea that kettlebells can make you stronger. Welcome to the club. Now it’s time to pick a bell (or three) to add to your training arsenal. Here is what you should know before getting started with kettlebells.
 
It’s easy to get caught up in the "bigger is better" mentality and want to grab a few heavy bells. The truth is you want to master with full control each weight before moving on to the next. Certain movements will require heavier bells, but others will need almost excessively light ones especially as you start things off. 
 
The first thing you want to take into account is if you have any injuries or issues particularly when it comes to you shoulders, back, wrists, elbows, or hips. These areas tend to get aggravated quickly so you want be careful before trying too much. 
 
If there aren’t any serious pre-existing issues then let’s move onto the...
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A Kettlebell a Day Keeps the Weakness Away

 
Kettlebells have the uncanny ability of creating a stronger overall connection. They may not be the best for building maximal strength in certain areas compared to a barbell, but as a tool to create awareness, explosive power, connection and structural integrity of your entire system they really can’t be beat.
 
What you get is what you give and your results will be directly correlated to which movements you choose and how often you do them. The kettlebell already offers a set of unique benefits due to the anatomy of the bell. 
 
The offset nature forces more tension and increases the grip work needed which creates more stability through your upper extremities and shoulders. This is without doing anything other than maintaining a racked position (when the kettlebell is nestled between your forearm and bicep). In my opinion this is the best example of what delivers the “odd strength” you get from kettlebells. It’s not just pressing and...
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3 Tips for Creating Your Own Program

 
The question “How do I put a program together?”  finds its way into my inbox at least a few times a week about kettlebell training. For benefits on kettlebell swings, check out this post!
 
The reality is there are THOUSANDS of programs around (most of these are just variations) and many (not all) of them work extremely well. There’s a lot of knowledge and experience that goes into creating programs and it obviously depends on the level of the user. Since these are typically in the form of Instagram DMs I’m going to assume these aren’t Olympic-level athletes. 
 
With that said, this post is going to help you do one of two things:
 
It’s is going to help you put together a basic program for yourself with kettlebells
 
or
 
It will help you decide on something that's already out there.
 
Here are the three things.
 
1. Know Your Outcome.
The problem with most programs is that they are a generic “one...
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5 Reasons You Should Be Swinging + Variations

 
When most people think of a kettlebell and what to do with it, the first thing that comes to mind is the swing. For most kettlebell enthusiasts it has become second nature, but to those who have never picked up a kettlebell it definitely looks awkward. Swinging a weight between one’s legs is typically frowned upon in a gym setting.  
 
If you are doing them, great! Here are a few tips on how to get more from swings and if you are not swinging, why you should get started.
 
First of all why should we do them? The swing is a powerful movement that is (fairly) easy to learn with incredible benefits for all levels of athletes. Let us break them down: 

Builds a powerful backside  

Anytime you are in a hinge position (think hips back with straight, but not locked out legs) you are going to be working your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, back). Combine some power behind it and not only are you building elasticity of the musculature, you are also building...
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