Kettlebells are a core part of the fitness industry today. If you go to any halfway decent gym, you’ll find a collection of kettlebells alongside traditional barbells, dumbbells, and machines.
But just how do kettlebells help you, over traditional exercises with dumbbells or barbells? Is it worth adding kettlebells to your workout regimen?
No matter your athletic goals, there are many ways kettlebell training can help you. Whether you’re trying to build more functional strength, improve cardio, or work your core, kettlebell workouts are perfect.
They are also great for home workouts or adding something different to a tired routine.
The benefits of kettlebells truly are numerous. Read on as we go through 14 reasons for you to start using kettlebells.
Why You Should Train With Kettlebells
Here are the top reasons you should start training with kettlebells.
1. Full-body workouts
First, most kettlebell exercises work the entire body, or close to it. This allows you to get full-body workouts in, which are a much more efficient way to train than hitting each muscle group in isolation.
You’re less likely to skip over muscle groups, meaning you’ll build a more evenly proportioned body. This is not only great for aesthetics, but it also means functional strength, which is beneficial outside of just looking good in the mirror.
2. Convenience and versatility
Not only can you get a full-body workout with kettlebells, but you also get it with a single piece of equipment. This makes kettlebells supremely versatile, and great for home workouts or gyms with limited space.
Instead of building a complete home gym, you can get similar results with just one or two kettlebells, allowing you to save a huge amount of space and money when building a workout space at home - not to mention saving time on the workout itself.
You’re less likely to miss a day if your workout can be completed in a shorter time, and with less hassle.
3. Working core and stability
When your training always focuses on specific muscle groups, either with dumbbells, barbells, or machines, it’s easy to neglect core strength and stability.
As a result, your functional strength will lag behind your aesthetics, and you’ll risk injury as you increase the weight on your lifts.
Kettlebell workouts require you to activate your core, even though you may not be putting specific focus on that area. Thus, after some time training with kettlebells, you’ll develop a much stronger core than sticking purely to isolation training.
The concentration of weight in kettlebells means you need to work hard to stay balanced, and keep the kettlebell moving on an even path. Balance is very much underlooked in weight training and is essential if you want to be strong, not just big.
In the balance required for kettlebell swings, Turkish get-ups, and other popular kettlebell exercises, you end up working stabilizer muscles much more extensively than regular lifting.
4. Kettlebells are great fat burners
Kettlebell workouts are unique in how they help you build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
Common kettlebell exercises like swings, goblet squats, and presses increase metabolism, which increases the rate your body passively burns fat.
A simple 20-minute kettlebell session can be all it takes to kick your metabolism into gear, which will lead to amazing results if you’re trying to get leaner.
5. A great cardio alternative
The full-body nature of kettlebell exercises means they end up working cardio, as well as strength, explosion, and mobility.
This is huge for people who don’t like traditional cardio workouts like running or cycling, as you can get a significant cardiovascular workout while still focusing on lifting heavy and building muscle.
6. Building power with explosive workouts
A big benefit for athletes, or anyone wanting functional strength, is the way kettlebell exercises develop power.
Many kettlebell workouts focus on explosive movements, generating power from the posterior chain and the hips.
Athletes benefit from increased explosivity, especially in sports such as football, wrestling, and even running.
Thus, kettlebell training translates much better to sports and athletic performance than traditional lifting.
7. Good for joint health
Better balance and stronger stabilizer muscles will lead to much healthier joints. This might not be a concern when you’re young, but over time, powerlifting puts immense strain on joints like the knees, ankles, and shoulders.
Kettlebell workouts require more deliberate control and focus on balance, which trains the muscles supporting your joints, as well as putting less direct stress on the joints as heavy isolation lifts do.
8. Teaching body awareness
Dynamic movements with a kettlebell train you to become aware of your body, how it moves, and how it performs. This is great for athletes - body awareness is a vital factor for strength and athleticism that translates into performance in sports.
Increased body awareness and coordination is not just something sportspeople need, though.
It benefits anyone to be more conscious of the body, how it moves, what it’s capable of. You’ll move better, feel better, and avoid injuries that otherwise come up in training or everyday life.
9. Improving mobility
Have you ever seen huge, muscle-bound powerlifters who move like a department store mannequin?
Powerlifting is fine. And we each have our own goals - if simply building muscle is your goal, that’s quite okay. But a lot of people who just focus on lifting heavy weights end up with extremely poor mobility as a payoff.
Kettlebells give you the best of both worlds. They build strength and muscle, but also develop mobility, which will make you feel and perform a lot better. Increased mobility and flexibility also make injuries much less likely to occur.
10. Working on, fixing, and preventing muscle imbalances
By working the whole body, often in a single exercise, you’re less likely to develop muscle imbalances when training with kettlebells. You won’t end up with disproportionately big biceps with no triceps, or a huge upper body and tiny legs.
The work is spread out throughout multiple muscle groups, which means you’re going to build muscle much more evenly.
These exercises can also help if you’ve already developed muscle imbalances, identifying and focusing on muscle groups that you may have previously neglected.
11. Great for forearms and grip strength
Speaking of neglected muscle groups, grip strength and forearms are notoriously hard to work on. And while this may not sound like a problem, it is.
Just about any lift you do utilizes the forearms and grip. If you’re picking something up or holding something, your performance will be improved by having a stronger grip.
Plus, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, strong forearms are almost always noticeable and are a great feature to have.
The way kettlebells are designed, with the center of gravity further away from your palm, makes them one of the best ways to develop strong forearms and a powerful grip - even better than isolation exercises targeting the grip.
12. Better overall athletic performance
Just about every one of these benefits has a secondary benefit attached. And that is better overall performance.
If you’re into sports, or want to improve performance in other areas of the gym, kettlebell workouts are going to help.
Fat-burning and cardio help you be more athletic. As does improved mobility, balance, and body awareness. Stronger joints and better grip strength will help you lift more, make physical labor easier, and are huge for sports like wrestling and martial arts.
There are big benefits to being athletic, rather than just growing muscle. If you want to take part in any other kind of physical pursuit, sports or otherwise, kettlebells are for you.
Finally, kettlebells are just a more fun way to work out. Kettlebell routines are more interesting, require more focus, and are less focused on short repetitive movements.
This makes kettlebells simply more enjoyable for most people, where doing 10-20 bicep curls on each arm for 4 sets might be a bore.
You can also get the same benefit from a kettlebell workout in a much shorter time, for those who don’t want to spend 1-2 hours at the gym every day.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to stimulate the mind when you’re working out. If you’re uninterested, if you’re mentally drained from going to the gym, your performance is going to suffer - or you’re simply not going to go.
So if the long list of benefits of kettlebell training doesn’t interest you, a more engaging workout might be what you need to cultivate and maintain a healthy habit of regular training.