Kettlebells in Bangkok

People have been kettlebell training for 100s of years

If you’ve been doing the same machine or free weights routine for years and have found that your progress and results have plateued, then perhaps it’s time to try something new. When the body gets used to working in a certain way development and growth grinds to a halt. The best way to push through this plateau is to ‘shock’ the body into doing something that it’s not used to, so it’s forced to develop.

One of the best ways to do this is by using ballistic training exercises which require explosive strength, speed, balance, co-ordination, grip strength, flexibilty and CV fitness, testing your body in a way that’s hard to do with standard weights.

One great way to do this is with the use of kettlebells. Kettlebells consist of what looks like a cannonball with a handle attached to it. Whilst it may just look like a fancy dumbell to some people, it’s this shape that allows you to execute many of the compound exercises that engage and work the whole body. When I did my first intense kettlebell workout I could hardly move for days, something that I hadn’t felt with standard weight training in years!

Kettlebells for sport

Ever feel like bench pressing and bicep curling is improving your strength but not really improving your performance in your chosen sport? Training your body with large compound movements mimics the way that you’ll be tested on the pitch or court – by hitting the whole body. Check out this example, the kettlebell clean and press:

Kettlebells for weight loss

A solid kettlebell workout will burn shed-loads of calories during the session. Better still, while your body recovers from the workout in the following days your metabolism will be working overtime, making kettlebells an awesome tool for weight loss.

Versatile

Kettlebells are a versatile piece of kit that, as well as large dynamic movements like the one above, can also used for curls, squats and lunges. You can even use the handles as press up stands or use them as weight to make ab exercises harder.

Cheap, convenient and long-lasting

They come in different sizes, typically 4-40kg

Compared to other pieces of gym equipment, kettlebells are pretty cost-effective, costing around 1,000THB/30USD each. Kettlebells are made of solid iron, so unless you’re doing something mental that goes horribly wrong, they should last a lifetime. Kettlebells can also provide very intense workouts, making them perfect for people with time restraints who want to cram in a workout.

Kettlebell training in Bangkok

Despite a recent explosion in popularity over the last few years in the US and Europe you won’t find many kettlebells in Thai gyms, especially the chains such as True Fitness and California Wow. However, some studios have made kettlebells a big part of their training. One such place is Total Body Training on Sukhumvit 49 near Thong Lor. They utilize their  range of kettlebells to put on group classes and they also play a big part of their personal training.

Purchasing kettlebells in Bangkok

Kettlebells are a little hard to come by in the city but can be purchased from Thailand Kettlebells which is over the river in Thonburi.

Kettlebells for tone and shape

Selecting the correct kettlebell weight

Kettlebells generally come in 4kg increments (4,8,12,16 etc) and the starting weight for a beginner is 8kg from women, 16kg for men. This weight should be about right for swings and squats, but will have to be adjusted for harder exercises. Form and technique is important for kettlebells so don’t try and lift heavy weights until you’re comfortable with your form. As always, build your weight up slowly.

The Turkish Get Up (TGU)

One of my favourite kettlebell exercises is the Turkish Get Up. It takes a little while to get used to but it’s a fantastic exercise that works the upper body, lower body, core – everything! Here’s a great example of a TGU being performed at a kettlebell seminar, with a bit of a twist!


Getting Started

Below are a few routines that demonstrate some of the trademark kettlebell exercises to get you started. There are many more on YouTube and, as cliched as it sounds, the only limit to what you can do with kettlebells is your imagination.

Some well-know kettlebell instructors who you may wish to Google and find on YouTube: Anthony Diluglio, Gray Cook & Brett Jones, Steve Cotter, Pavel Tsatsouline.

Good luck everyone, and let me know how you get on with them!

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Why weight training for women will NOT lead to excessive bulk and size

One of the main objections I hear for women not wanting to weight train is the fear of waking up one morning to find they look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag.

This is one of the most misguided myths regarding weight training and means that many women are missing out on the massive benefits that resistance training brings.

The main reason that women won’t pack on the muscle is because of the lack of hormones that are needed for large muscle growth. Women have on average 10-20 times less of the hormones that are conducive to muscle growth, such as testosterone.

One reason for this common misconception is the bronzed and oiled young ladies that you see on the covers of bodybuilding mags, such as the three pictured below. The reason for their Gladiator-esque physiques are:

  1. They train many hours a day and are professional bodybuilders, pushing themselves extremely hard to overload their muscles in a way that someone who trains normal amounts cannot do
  2. They are often use performance enhancing drugs, such as steroids, which raise the levels of these muscle-producing hormones to unnatural levels
  3. They eat huge amounts of the foods and supplements that are designed for bodybuilders and muscle growth

      

What weight training and muscle strength brings is NOT huge muscles, but the ‘tone’ that is so commonly desired – and with “I want to tone up” being one of the primary goals for almost anyone that trains you cannot afford to neglect this essential part of working out.

So, don’t be scared to push those weights HARD – you will not wake up one morning, look in the mirror and think ‘Jesus, I’m huge!’

Now that we’ve touched on the reasons you won’t end up looking like Rocky’s sparring partner, lets look at the massive benefits that pumping iron brings (in order of how important it is to the average female gym-goer):

1. You will gain muscle and boost metabolism

Building and maintaining lean muscle requires energy, so after resistance training your body will be burning MORE calories when you’ve finished exercising and you’ve collapsed on the sofa, or you’re asleep in bed. 1lb of lean muscle burns around 50 calories more per day, which really adds up.

2. You will become stronger without bulking

We’ve already explained why you won’t become huge, but you will become stronger which lessens the chance of injuries and strains, increases sport performance, increases vitality etc, with the added bonus of body tone and improved body shape!

3. It increases bone strength and density

Resistance and weight training stimulates osteoblast activity in the bones which builds strong and healthy bones and spine. Women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) as they get older, so this is especially important if you want to grow old with grace, strength and independence.

4. Posture improvement and heightened attractiveness

If the muscles in the body are strong and flexible then they will give more support to the skeleton and your posture will be improved. This improved posture, body tone and shape, strong skeleton and lessened chance of disease will give you an overall ‘glow’ that will make you more attractive to the opposite sex. A bold claim, you might think, but very true.

6. Reduced risk of many diseases and ailments

The list of diseases and injuries you’re less likely to get is huge. In addition to a reduced risk of getting heart disease or diabetes, a stronger body will make back pain far less likely to have trouble from lower back pain, recent studies showing an 80% success rate in elimination. Stronger joints and bones reduce other strains and pains in the body that are brought on from inactivity.

7. It will improve your self-confidence, fights depression and adds to an overall feeling of wellbeing

Adding weights to your program will make you feel confident, healthy and happier. A Harvard study even found that 10 weeks of strength training for women was far more effective than standard counselling or drugs.

8. It’s never too late to start!

Women in their 70s+ can feel the benefits of light weight training. You’re never too old.

   

I’ll leave you with this: another study from from the YMCA in America has shown that the average woman in their first 2 months of strength training will:

LOSE 3.5lb of body fat and GAIN 2lb of muscle  =  less body fat %, more toned body, weight loss & higher metabolism

Hopefully these numerous benefits will be enough to inspire you and motivate you to include weight training as part of your program.

Good luck!