Kettlebells improve strength, Power

by Ryan Halvorson on Dec 20, 2012

Making News

Kettlebell training has experienced a resurgence of late. Going by the physical improvements the training can offer, is its popularity warranted? The answer is yes, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2012; 26 [8], 2228–33).

The scientists’ goal was to determine what effects the kettlebell swing had on maximal and explosive strength. They employed half-squat 1-repetition maximum and vertical jump height as assessment markers.

The study included 21 young men, aged 18–27, who were experienced at both the half-squat and the vertical jump. One group of men performed 12 minutes of exercises—12 rounds of 30-second exercise bouts alternating with 30-second rest periods—using a 12- or 16-kilogram kettlebell, depending on body weight. The other group performed at least 4 sets of 3 jump squats with varying loads (60% 1-RM to 0% 1-RM). Both groups trained twice per week.

At the end of the study, the two groups demonstrated similar improvements in maximal and explosive strength.

“The results of this study clearly demonstrate that 6 weeks of biweekly kettlebell training provides a stimulus that is sufficient to increase both maximum and explosive strength, offering a useful alternative to strength and conditioning professionals seeking variety for their athletes,” explained the study authors.

Want to help your clients stay safe during kettlebell swings? First, make sure you are educated in this type of training, says BJ Gaddour, CSCS, CEO of StreamFIT.com in Milwaukee. He suggests using the following exercises to prepare clients for swing training:

Hamstring stretch. Lack of hamstring flexibility will result in flexion of the lower back at the bottom of the swing pattern, putting the spine at great risk of injury. Gaddour’s favorite stretch for helping with swings is a progressive straight-leg hamstring stretch using a staircase. Start with the first step and keep working your way up the staircase until, ideally, you’re stretching your hamstring with more than 90 degrees of hip flexion, with no movement in the lumbar spine.

Hip hinge. With soft knees and heels loaded, hinge back at your hips as if trying to close a car door without squatting excessively. If you feel the movement in your thighs, you’re squatting too much.

Skier swing. In traditional kettlebell swings, you hold the bell(s) between the legs while adopting a wider foot stance. For skier swings, you hold the weights outside the thighs and stand with feet closer together. A closer stance makes it more difficult to squat, which forces you to hinge back more at the hips, cleaning up the form. You may want to start with lighter dumbbells before adding the pendulum effect created by the shape of the kettlebell. For more insights on kettlebell research, see “Kettlebell Research Update” on page 18 of this issue.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Victor

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 10, Issue 1

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the associate editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; a Performance Specialist at Bird Rock Fit in La Jolla, CA; a Master Instructor for Metabolic Effect and the creator of www...

1 Comment

  • Log In to Comment
  • Terrence Young

    Kettlebell training is indeed a great way to condition the entire body. I tell my clients that kettlebell training will change the way to you look, feel and move. What I enjoy most about being a kettlebell instructor is that there are countless ways to add variety to my workouts! Terry
    Commented Dec 04, 2013

Trending Articles

How to Teach HIIT to Everyone

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have b...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

The Reason Your Clients Don't Achieve Their Goals

Lots of people hire personal trainers or join group fitness classes hoping to lose weight. Yet many fail to meet their goals. New research suggests that “progress bias”—overestimatin...

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

Show More