Kettlebells: A Must Have In Your Arsenal
You’ve probably seen kettlebells at your local gym, relegated to a functional fitness corner. There might only be one set, or even a half set of the weights, topping out at 50 lbs or so. It might have never occurred to you that the kettlebell might be exactly what you need to unlock a monster powerlifting total.
It’s not crazy to suggest that swinging around a 50 lb kettlebell, barely more than an empty barbell, can help you squat twice your bodyweight. Want to know more? Here are 5 ways kettlebell training can help you lift heavy.
1. Heavy Swings grow your glutes and hamstrings
Probably one of the most obvious benefits of kettlebell swings is the impact on your hamstrings and glutes. As you swing the kettlebell between your legs and forward, you drive with your hamstrings, and then pull the weight up over your head by contracting your glutes. As you swing, you hammer these muscles again and again, increasing the time under tension with each rep. These two muscle groups are critical for standing up from under a squat, and locking out a deadlift- so the conditioning these muscles get from a long session can have incredible future gains.
2. Single arm complexes promote muscle stability
Some of the most popular kettlebell workouts are single arm workouts, like snatches and turkish get-ups. Because of the one-sided nature of carrying the weight, these kinds of exercises are great at targeting stability muscles like the obliques and lower back muscles. This kind of training is invaluable when you start lifting heavy and moving a lot of weight. Having strong muscles to keep your body tight when you have weight in your hands is critical to keeping your lifting career long and injury free.
3. Mobility work
The wide range of options available in kettlebell work allows for a killer warmup. As we’ve mentioned before in our article on the perfect warm up, mobility and muscle drills are two ways to make sure that you’ll be successful when you get under the bar. Many famous weightlifters will use single-arm overhead squats to prepare for heavy snatches, because the lighter weight of the kettlebell allows for a safe method of waking up your muscles and joints to complete a successful lift.
4. Explosive workout helps move the bar
Kettlebell movements like swings, cleans, snatches and jerks are all movements that require you to explode the weight off of the ground and bring it into a position that’s in control. Being able to drill your body to recognize what muscles a needed for a successful lift. Being comfortable with these movements can help your muscles become comfortable with generating the force needed to move weight.
It’s no secret that conditioning is a weak point for most powerlifters. It’s simply natural to think that when your passion is getting strong, calories, time and effort spent on getting fast or building cardiovascular strength can seem like a waste of time. Kettlebell training provides the best of both worlds, allowing you to build your cardiovascular capacity for work, while also benefiting from strength and hypertrophy gains at the same time! It’s a win-win!
With all these benefits, it’s crazy that anyone wouldn’t start instituting kettlebell training into their regular programming. So what are you waiting for? Head to the corner of the gym where they’re collecting dust, and give these amazing tools of the trade some extra love!