Kettlebells - A History and Their Benefits

The RKC Russian Kettlebell Dragon Door

A Brief History

The kettlebell is a dynamic strength and endurance training tool that can be traced back to the beginnings of the 18th century. It is unknown exactly where the kettlebell originated, but it is likely that it began appearing in both Greece and Russia around the same time period. The popularity for the kettlebell weight began as a useful counterweight for measuring goods being sold and slowly morphed into a sport in its own respect. Russia has long been known for its honorable viewing of strength. During festivals and fairs, venters of goods would lift and swing their kettlebell counterweights to showcase their strength. This led to the realization of the health benefits related to weightlifting and kettlebells.

Dr. Vladislav Kraevsky, a Russian weightlifting enthusiast considered the founder of heavy athletics, introduced exercises with kettlebells and barbells in Russia after traveling and gathering information about physical education. This moved Russia as a country to view kettlebells as a symbol of strength and national pride.

Kettlebells did not arrive in North America until the late 20th century when Pavel Tsatouline wrote an article about the kettlebell weight that was very widely read. This lead a company called Dragon Door to approach Tsatouline and introduce kettlebells to America. Dragon Door ‘originated the modern kettlebell movement in 2001, with its RKC [Russian Kettlebell Challenge] instructor programs and premier RKC kettlebells.’

Benefits of Using Kettlebells

It is easy to ask yourself ‘why should I use a kettlebell when I could just as easily use what I am used to, a dumbbell?’ Although dumbbells are more mainstream, the kettlebell offers a vast amount of benefits for a wide range of lifters.

1. Change up your workout

Kettlebells offer a versatile platform for many different types of exercises that work different muscles. If you have researched weightlifting or have spoken to a coach, you are familiar with the term ‘muscle confusion’. This refers to the idea that if you keep a routine for too long your muscles will adapt and you will stop improving significantly. Therefore, it is widely reported that shocking your muscles with a new type of exercise that works your muscles in different ways from your original routine is beneficial to your improvement.

Read this book on kettlebell workouts by John Powers

2. Adaptable to any level of fitness

With different sizes, shapes, and weights offered with kettlebells and the less intimidating look, compared with dumbbells, it is easy to find an exercise and weight that will work for you.

3. The kettlebell swing

If you are not convinced yet, the kettlebells swing should be enough to push you towards picking up a kettlebell. This exercise takes plyometric a step further by incorporating a kettlebell weight and is includes no impact. By resisting rotational forces of the kettlebell, your body engages its core and shoulder muscles while empowering your hips.

View an example here: