Kettlebells

Rough Strength Kettlebell

The kettlebell, or ‘girya’, is my native strength training implement. Years ago, everybody here in Ukraine knew what kettlebell is (now it is rare to find a person who can differentiate a kettlebell from a dumbbell). A lot of men trained with kettlebells, and it was not only a matter of strength, but a matter of respect too. The man who could lift a 32 kg kettlebell overhead was highly respected in society. Every man sought this status. Every man sought strength. It is a big shame that such a great implement is forgotten nowadays in favor of fancy machines and other ‘toning up’ devices.

So What Is the Kettlebell?

The kettlebell is a cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. This implement is very old and was used by Ukrainians and Russians for ages. Ivan Piddubny, Pyotr Kryloff, Moor Znamensky, and Arthur Saxon are famous old-time kettlebell users. However, there were lots of others.

Ivan Piddubny Ivan Piddubny

Pyotr Kryloff

Pyotr Kryloff

Just look at these men, and you will understand the potential of the kettlebell.

What Is the Uniqueness?

So why not to use dumbbells? It is the same thing, right? Actually, no. The uniqueness of kettlebell is in its construction. You will notice right from the first time that kettlebells feel much heavier than dumbbells. Why? Because of the offset center of mass. This opens new horizons for using these implements. For example, presses will have much longer range of motion, and there will be an additional resistance at the top due to this offset center of gravity. Also, kettlebells provide a huge variety of exercises and grant you much more place for improvisation. Tired of conventional lifts? Try Swings, Snatches, Bottom-Up Cleans and Presses, Kettlebell Juggling, Kettlebell Throwing etc.

Unilateral or Bilateral?

Another great thing about kettlebells is that you can use either one arm, or both during the training. Either way has pros and cons. Generally, unilateral work is better for learning basic skills and bringing up the lagging side, and bilateral work is better for overall hypertrophy and strength development because of an increased workload.

Read this article for more information.

The Space Issue

Kettlebells require very little space, and you are able to train with them literally anywhere. I, personally, work with them in my apartment, and nobody is complaining. Be careful though not to break something or someone.

Where to Get Kettlebells?

Here in Ukraine, people meaninglessly throw away kettlebells, or they can use them in housekeeping. You will rarely find someone using kettlebells for training. It is a paradox, I know, but it is rough reality in our country. I am very lucky to get my kettlebells almost for nothing, but what to do if you are not so lucky? For example, you can buy kettlebells here and finally start training.

Basic Kettlebell Exercises

I divided them into groups:

1. Upper Body Push

Kettlebell One-Arm Military Press

One Arm PressOne Arm PressOne Arm Press

Clean the kettlebell. Keep your lower back arched during the clean. Press it overhead until your elbow is locked.

Kettlebell Double Military Press

Double PressDouble PressDouble Press

Clean two kettlebells. Keep your lower back arched during the clean. Press them overhead until your elbows are locked.

Kettlebell Double Floor Press

Double Floor PressDouble Floor Press

Lie down on the floor. Grab the kettlebells. Press.

Kettlebell Side Press

Side PressSide PressSide Press

Clean the kettlebell. Keep your lower back arched during the clean. Lean to the side and press the bell until your elbow is locked.

2. Upper Body Pull

Kettlebell One-Arm Bent-Over Row

One-Arm RowOne-Arm Row

Grab the kettlebell. Bend over. Keep your lower back arched. Row.

Kettlebell Double Bent-Over Row

Double RowDouble Row

Grab two kettlebells. Bend over. Keep your lower back arched. Row.

Kettlebell Alternating Renegade Row

Renegade RowRenegade Row

Get into the push-up position on two kettlebells. Row one to your waistline while pressing the other. Keep the shoulders parallel to the ground. Prepare for the VERY sore midsection the next day.

3. Lower Body Push

Kettlebell Double Front Squat

Front SquatFront SquatFront Squat

Clean two kettlebells. Keep your lower back arched during the clean. Squat as low as possible. Keep your weight on the heels, not the toes.

Kettlebell Double Lunge

Double LungeDouble LungeDouble Lunge

Clean two kettlebells. Keep your lower back arched during the clean. Take a step forward and squat down.

Kettlebell One-Arm Overhead Squat

Overhead SquatOverhead SquatOverhead Squat

Snatch or clean and press the kettlebell overhead. Squat as low as possible. Keep your weight on the heels, not the toes.

4. Lower Body Pull

Kettlebell Double Swing

Double SwingDouble Swing

Grab two kettlebells. Swing them between your legs. Flex the hips forcefully while reversing the movement of the bells. Keep your lower back arched throughout the move.

Kettlebell One-Arm Snatch

One-Arm SnatchOne-Arm SnatchOne-Arm Snatch

Grab the kettlebell. Swing it between your legs.  Flex the hips and pull the kettlebell forcefully while reversing its movement. Finish with your arm straight with the kettlebell overhead. Keep your lower back arched throughout the move.

5. Core

Kettlebell One-Arm Windmill

WindmillWindmillWindmillWindmill

Snatch or clean and press the kettlebell overhead. Stand with your feet pointing 45 degrees to the opposite side of the working arm. Arch your back. Lean forward and down while twisting your torso until you touch the floor.

Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up

Turkish Get-UpTurkish Get-UpTurkish Get-UpTurkish Get-Up

Lie down on the floor. Press one bell. Stand up with the bell pressed. Now reverse the movement and get down on the floor. That is one rep.

NOTE: this is just a description of exercises, not an actual instruction. You should consult a professional for proper technique.

Example Kettlebell Routine

Here is an example kettlebell-only full-body routine:

Monday

A) Double Military Press – 3 x 5

B) Double Bent-Over Row – 3 x 6

C) Double Front Squat – 3 x 6

Tuesday

Off.

Wednesday

A) Double Floor Press – 3 x 8

B) Double Swing – 3 x 8

C) Turkish Get-Up – 3 x 5 (per side)

Thursday

Off.

Friday

A) One-Arm Snatch – 3 x 12

B) Double Lunge – 3 x 12

C) One-Arm Windmill – 3 x 12 (per side)

Saturday & Sunday

Off.

NOTE: this routine is presented here only for example purposes. It may or may not work for you depending on your individual capabilities and conditions.

Closing Thoughts

The greatest thing about the kettlebells is that they never lie.  You cannot decrease the weight just a little bit. You cannot train not recovered. You are on your own. You have to be honest with yourself or the kettlebell will force you to be such. Egos are out. True rough strength is in. You have to be serious about strength to master the kettlebell. And be ready to reap the benefits.

Play rough!

Alex

Every time you don’t like and share this article, you upset a kitten somewhere.

Do you have any additional thoughts? Let’s chat in comments.

Subscribe to my RSS Feede-mail newsletterFacebook page and Twitter for more awesome training information.


Rough Strength Online CoachingTrain with me!

Are you tired of lack of results? Strength training seems like the rocket science to you? Do you want to get strong, build muscle, lose fat and get awesome finally? Let the professional do all the dirty work for you.

Click here for more information

22 thoughts on “Kettlebells

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Well, I found it useful and fun, Mike. Especially with 40 kg kettlebell. Anyway, if it doesn’t work for you don’t use it.

      – Alex

      Reply
    2. JP

      Mike, if your calling the TGU a Turkish stand up then I’m doubting your credentials to begin with. This is a phenomenal move that trains the body in all three planes of motion! You may have missed this day during the cert

      Reply
  1. Nick

    Thanks for the only ‘no-nonsense’ workout I’ve been able to find! If i do 1 movement from each section in a circuit, is that a good daily routine? Or should I change them each day..

    Reply
  2. Jim

    I love using my kettlebells, if I had to get rid of all my weights and other equipment but could keep one…it would be the 24kg k-bell! No doubt. Alex I need to come to the Ukraine if I can get some kettlebells for less money, they rake you over the coals here for them! Thanks for all your articles, great info! =) Oh and I think the turkish get up is awesome! haha

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Yeah, Jim. Kettlebells are awesome by all means. Although I would leave 32 kg one (:

      Come to Ukraine if you are not scared.

      – Alex

      Reply
  3. Jim

    Nope, not scared =) I would love to come some day! Always ready to explore! I have to admit…I can not press the 32 kg k-bell yet…I better focus on that then right?

    Reply
  4. Mark Scheel

    Alex
    Picked up your e-book and could not put it down! I love the rough strength philosophy. When I try to access the online training nothing comes up. Please help.
    Thanks. Mark

    Reply
  5. Arek

    Do you recommend reading enter the kettlebell from Tatsouline , or its bullshit ;)? I mean – those workout routines he recommends look kind of strange – program minimum is just way too easy, even for a guy who never touched kettlebells but is quite fit (and I hate all those ads in the end of the book, looks like he wants to sell you as much stuff as possible). What about other books from Tsatsouline? I want to combine bodyweight workout with kettlebells and sandbags, do you think its a smart idea to do it from the start? I only workouted using barbells, dumbells before. I heave read cc book , and most of your articles. Thanks

    Reply
  6. Dominik

    hey alex, short question: kettlebell classic set (16kg, 24kg, 32kg) or 2 32kg bells?
    nearly same price, about 200 chf. (swiss franks)
    thx
    peace

    Reply
  7. Don

    hey, I really like the article, but can you give me some insight into the proper grip form one should use with these movements? Most of the instructionals I’ve perused recommend a letting the handle rest diagonally across the palm, for a clean and press, keeping the wrist straight. Does it matter?

    Reply
  8. Eddie

    I love your site Alex!
    you should post your video on youtube as well.
    It would be cool to see an instructional from you.
    Keep up the great work! Eddie Edmunds

    Reply
  9. Mark

    ‘Only commenting out of fear of hairy palms’ ;0)

    Alex, do you have any suggestions for high intensity KB routines for conditioning only?

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Try doing as many swings as possible in 20 minutes with moderate weight 2-3 times per week. With time, either do more reps in the same amount of time, or add weight.

      – Alex

      Reply

If you don't leave a comment, hair will grow on your palms