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.
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
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.
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!
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!