So. I’ve taken the plunge. Or, rather, I made my boyfriend take the plunge and had him get me a kettlebell for Christmas. I, in my usual fashion, have been reading obsessively about kettlebells for the last forever and a half and chomping at the bit for Christmas to, like, get here already.
So far, it seems like the internet is rife with claims about how the kettlebell will absolutely totally revolutionize your workout, give you the body you’ve always wanted, ensure that you live the life of your dreams, etc. Honestly, when I touched the thing for the first time, I kind of expected a sense of closure, like “Ahh, this is what I have been searching for all these years…” In reality, it feels more like a hunk of iron. However, I would now like to direct your attention to this —> ACE Kettlebell Study
Since I know you probably didn’t bother to click the link or read the entire article, I will briefly summarize: The American Council on Exercise, being a professional fitness and health organization, having a reputation of scientific solidarity to uphold, and being almost as skeptical as I am about exuberant fitness / weight loss claims, did a study to find out whether kettlebells actually deliver the knockout body-rocking fat-burning awesomeness that the people who sell them claim they do. ACE’s study found that, on average, ten men and women who had previous experience with kettlebell training burned about 20 calories per minute (including both aerobic and anaerobic systems) during a 20 minute interval workout. That, folks, equals out to a remarkable 400 calories for 20 minutes of interval work.
Now, granted, these results are probably not typical for people like you and me. For one, these people were experienced with kettlebell technique and knew how to utilize proper form, they were using a minimum of a 12kg bell (which is fairly formidable for some women-folk who like to stick to the lighter end of things) and they followed a structured, strict workout at maximum effort with short breaks (a feat which many of us find hard to do without someone there watching / measuring / yelling at us). But hell, those are all goals that can be achieved with time. And that means the potential is there for some quite substantial calorie-burnage.
I have yet to purchase a kettlebell DVD or book program, mostly because it seems like there are plenty of workouts available for free on youtube and lots of explanations of specific kettlebell moves. The only thing I am slightly hesitant about is learning good form – the last thing I want to do is swing my kettlebell around, crack a joint, and then drop the thing on my dog or fling it into the TV set or something. For this reason, I will be closely studying the form before I take on anything resembling a high-volume workout. And when I do, I will likely try to do it outside… just in case.
Depending on the source, women usually start with a kettlebell somewhere around 8kg. Stronger women or women experienced with lifting weights should be able to start with 12kg. I decided to go with the 12kg for a couple different reasons. 1, I’m built like some horrifying combination of a redwood tree and a military tank, and pressing 16 pounds over my head with one arm is something I could do in my sleep. 2, kettlebells are bloody expensive and I am not looking forward to mastering one weight and having to either buy a second one so I can do doubles work or buy the next weight up. I would use the adjustable-plate ones, but somehow I keep going back in my mind to the image of me swinging the kettlebell, the weight plates coming undone and, again, smashing the dog, the TV, or my face. Despite the cost, I felt like it was safer for me to just go with the solid cast-iron type.
Now, at first I plan to play with my kettlebell as much as possible, and it will probably be my primary workout for a while. Once the novelty wears off, though, I am going to work it into my new, slightly-random-but-always-interesting workout plan that I have developed. I’ll have to write a post about that too here in the next couple of days – it’s great for people who, as I do, get agonizingly bored with a workout after just one week and end up throwing in the towel. More on that later.
As an added bonus, one of my super awesome friends who can read my mind better than I can got me a heart rate monitor for Christmas so that I can play with my new kettlebell, not to mention all those intervals I sometimes do, and know that I’m actually working at the right level. Whoo!
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