Kettlebells are inferior to dumbbells for skinny guys who want to bulk up.

Kettlebells Are Inferior to Dumbbells

Few fitness products receive the sort of all-out marketing blitz enjoyed by the once-humble kettlebell. Everywhere you turn, you’re bombarded with claims about the fitness and strength benefits of these simple devices. Most of the claims almost seem too good to be true.

Here is a sample of the sorts of things marketers are saying about kettlebells. All these quotes come from the first page of Google results for a search on the keyword “kettlebell”:

  • Develop extreme all-around fitness; no tool does it better
  • The centuries-old favorite of martial artists, ancient strongmen, and the military elite
  • Kettlebells improve your 40-yard dash
  • This super-simple “handheld gym” guarantees faster fat loss, rapid muscle gain, higher performance and dramatic power—in just minutes a day!
  • Kettlebells also teach the user how to use momentum in ways that mimic real life situations that cannot be duplicated by machines, barbells, or dumbbells
  • The single best conditioning tool for killer sports like kickboxing, wrestling, and football

Hype about kettlebells rings out loud and clear. But if loud-mouthed marketing claims are true, why don’t professional athletes use them during training?

Are there any successful athletes who owe their success to kettlebell training?

Ask yourself this? Did top athletes spend their early years learning how to manipulate a kettlebell? The answer is no.

Think about the best athletes in the world. Among their ranks, you will find:

  • NFL players
  • Olympic track-and-field competitors
  • Pro bodybuilders, pro powerlifters, and world-class Olympic weightlifters
  • Soldiers in the special forces
  • Professional boxers
  • …and many other talented and highly-paid professionals

They all compete at the highest levels.

But their body types, skill sets, and training methods are as varied as are the sports and athletic contests in which they compete.

Do you know what they all have in common? That’s right: not a single one of them got where he is today by using a kettlebell.

Think about that: not a single one.

A man with a kettlebell tattoo on his back

Many kettlebell athletes fetishize kettlebells

Of the hundreds of thousands of high-level amateur athletes alive in the world today, not one reached his or her peak exclusively with kettlebell training.

And of the tens of thousands of professional (and ex-pro) athletes around the globe, not even one got to the elite level by using kettlebells as his sole means of strength and power training.

Other than gymnasts (who primarily use bodyweight training), every successful competitive athlete used barbells (and sometimes dumbbells) for strength and power training when he/she was developing.

But wait! I can hear you asking, “What about those famous kettlebell competition winners? Surely, they are athletes, right? And they use kettlebells, right? So your argument fails!”

Well, not exactly. Those famous kettlebell athletes are all ex- Olympic lifters who couldn’t compete at the high levels of that sport. So to make a living, they switched to an area of sport that didn’t have any real competition: competitive kettlebell lifting.

Now you get it: even the famous kettlebell athletes (and all those famous kettlebell instructors) didn’t use kettlebells to become athletes. They used barbells, just like everyone else.

The origin of kettlebells

Scottish athletes threw trading weights in competition long before anyone coined the term kettlebell.

Scottish athletes threw trading weights in competition long before anyone coined the term 'kettlebell'.

During and after the Roman Empire, Europeans used heavy stones with handles as standard weights in trade and commerce.

Since trading weights were somewhat standardized, they were perfect for competitive weight lifting.

In Scotland there is a centuries-old tradition of using these weights for throwing and carrying competitions. These were the first kettlebells, though the name didn’t exist yet.

Later, in the 19th century, weight lifting became a profession rather than a pasttime. And during this time, strongmen developed true kettlebells.

Today, when we hear the word ‘bell’, we think of the thing that rings in a church steeple. But the word originally had a less specific meaning. Back then, a bell was a hollow container, usually with a spherical top.

Kettlebells, therefore, are hollow, sperical containers with a handle. Superficially, they resemble tea-kettles. The strongmen who invented them loaded lead shot inside to change the weight of the device.

These early prototypes were used for strength challenges, not training.

It takes skill to lift thick-handled, awkwardly-shaped implements, and strongmen practiced until they could out-perform even the largest and strongest of their audience members.

At the time, kettlebell lifting was nothing more than a gimmick – like lifting thick-handled dumbbells or anvils is today.

Strongmen didn’t make their livings by relying on being the strongest men around. This wasn’t something they could control. Instead, they slanted the competitions in their favor. In fact, these strongmen were almost always small of stature and unimpressive to look at. They made their money by cajoling gullible audience members into wagers, then wiping the floor with them.

These strongmen earned their keep by outperforming all comers in skill-based competitions that only they practiced for. Kettlebells – with their thick, grip-challenging handles and their peculiar, off-center balance point – were perfect for strongman challenges.

Kettlebells were soon supplanted by barbells and dumbbells

But strongmen couldn’t get strong by relying on kettlebells alone.

For reasons which I’ll list in the next section, kettlebells are probably the least-useful pieces of strength training equipment. But worse, they’re the most dangerous.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the physical culture movement gained adherents all over Europe and the USA. The sportsmen who rallied around ‘physical culture’ wanted to get strong and fit. And they wanted fast results in the most efficient way possible.

No longer was strength the sole domain of ill-educated laborers and a handful of carnival strongmen. Now, the men of leisure with money to burn wanted to be strong too.

Entrepreneurs quickly filled the demand for easy to use strength training equipment by inventing barbells and dumbbells. Barbells were just what the name implied: two ‘bells’ connected by a bar. And dumbbells were too: they were ‘dumb’ (meaning they made no noise because they were solid and contained no loose lead shot).

Soon, inventers improved things even further.

  • Plate-loaded barbells and dumbbells were easily adjustable and standardized.
  • Rotating-sleeve barbells were much safer than previous designs which had the annoying tendency of damaging the hands and tearing apart the tendons and ligaments in athletes’ arms during the snatch

Kettlebells were soon forgotten.

Forgotten, that is, except in one backward part of the world: Soviet Russia.

The Soviets said, “why waste resources on bourgeois barbells and dumbbells? Our factories should be building tanks, not toys for rich people!”

It was easy to cast a kettlebell from iron in a crude foundry. Making a barbell required steel bar-stock, ball bearings, a lathe, and skilled machine operators.

To the Soviets, anyone who wanted to get strong was more than welcome to grab a sledgehammer and break some rocks in the Gulag. If kettlebells weren’t good enough for him, too bad…

Kettlebells versus Dumbbells

The advantages of dumbbells – especially adjustable dumbbells – are overwhelming. You might as well fill a milk-jug with concrete and use it for strength training.

Here’s a quick comparison of kettlebell and dumbbell training. Read below the chart for details:
 

Kettlebell

Dumbbell 

Fixed weight; Expensive adjustable kettlebells are awkward, ungainly, and cause pinches and bruises Easily and quickly adjustable
Thick, non-rotating handle causes blisters Normal handle designed ergonomically
The off-center balance point strains the wrist during presses and “pushing” movements Wrist naturally assumes ergonomically-proper orientation, no matter the exercise
Grip strength the limiting factor in “pulling” movements with thick-handled bells; no way around this drawback. Bells’ handles were designed by foundry foremen, not athletes. Grip strength is rarely an issue. DB grips are thin and ergonomic, not thick and ungainly. If necessary, grip strength can either be addressed through training, or overcome with various time-tested techniques
Kettlebell training is synonymous with skill training. Often, strength gains come from neural adaptation and skill acquisition, not hypertrophy. It takes weeks to learn to clean a decent-sized bell without bruising yourself too much. Dumbbells are a fitness and strength training tool, not an end in and of themselves. They deliver results immediately, regardless of the level of neural adaptation and skill. You can clean a dumbbell right the first time, and every time.
Repetitive-stress injuries are common and practically inevitable with the massively-hyped but impractical kettlebell movements. The movements are defined by the bell itself, not by the athletic benefit they confer. Repetitive stress injuries are rare and avoidable because of lower reps and lack of ‘contortion’. Dumbbells lend themselves to all manner of athletic training, they don’t require you to learn special movement skills just to avoid injury.
Expensive and overpriced Priced almost as a commodity; plus, the plates are fungible
Handles are cast iron instead of forged steel. This means they need to be thick and stubby to avoid breaking. Forged handles are thinner and ergonomically designed
Limited number of movements, some highly contrived and impractical Dumbbells are suited for many time-tested movements and exercises used by successful athletes
Cast iron handles must be painted or coated after manufacture to prevent rust. This means you need to remove coating and season the handle to do high-rep snatches. Forged handles and knurled grips go a long way towards preventing blisters. No friction during power moves like snatches or cleans.
No way to get “under” the weight during heavy snatches, cleans, and presses. You can only ‘swing’ the weight into position. This means you can’t use kettlebells to develop power. Dumbbells or barbells are used by every successful athlete during their formative years for power development (not to mention strength training)

 

What is kettlebell training?

Take a moment to think about the expression ‘kettlebell training’.

Doesn’t it seem a bit weird to you?

After all, you never hear the term ‘dumbbell training’ or ‘barbell training’.

Instead, athletes and sports coaches talk about ‘weight training’, ‘resistance training’, or ‘strength training’.

Kettlebells look like tea kettles.

Kettlebells look like tea kettles.

The fact is: kettlebell training means just what it says: training you to use a kettlebell.

Kettlebells require skill. And when you get good at them, you’re good at using a kettlebell. Big deal. That, and a dollar, will buy you a cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, many kettlebell enthusiasts (and the majority of kettlebell instructors) conflate the training tool with the training style. For instance, you’ll often hear kettlebell zealots say something like, “kettlebell training focuses mostly on muscular endurance rather than brute strength.”

To statements like that, I respond by explaining the difference between ‘training’ and ‘using a kettlebell’:

A typical kettlebell user may work out in a style of training that primarily increases muscular endurance. But the kettlebell has very little to do with how he trains. After all, it doesn’t hold a gun to his head and force him to do high-rep sets of snatches and swings…

In fact, he could grab a dumbbell (instead of a kettlebell) and do the same movements and exercises. And if he did that, he wouldn’t have to go through the learning process whereby he adapts the movements to the limitations imposed by the old-fashioned kettlebell. His workouts would be more efficient, safer, and more effective.

All these moves that kettlebell enthusiasts hold so near and dear to their hearts — snatches, swings, getups, cleans, etc. — were developed by weight lifters who used barbells and dumbbells. And to this day, the best pro athletes do these exercises to help them reach their goals. Kettlebells never entered the picture until early in the Soviet era, when the hapless Soviets made do with what they had available, instead of what they really wanted and needed.

So next time you hear a kettlebell zealot talking about ‘kettlebell training’ as if it was a whole new style of workout, you’ll know he’s either an unthinking dupe who refuses to examine his workouts critically, or a con-man with an agenda that probably involves separating you from your money and your sense of self-reliance.

The truth is: no matter what you do with a kettlebell, you can do it more safely, efficiently, and intensely with a modern tool like a dumbbell, barbell, or t-handle. And you’ll save money too…

Kettlebell lifts are worse than useless

Four main “moves” make up the majority of kettlebell training:

  1. Kettlebell swings
  2. Kettlebell cleans
  3. Kettlebell jerks
  4. Kettlebell snatches

While these movements are beneficial, they are not unique to kettlebell training.

They were developed for use with barbells and dumbbells. To avoid injury, athletes need to alter these moves for kettlebells. And this adaptation process weakens and de-intensifies the training effect.

Adjustable kettlebell?  Thats one way to make one!

Adjustable kettlebell? That's one way to make one!

Kettlebell Swings

One-handed swings are simply better with a dumbbell, there is no real debate. Swings are a warmup and conditioning move that should be done for time. But to do a timed circuit, you have to be able to adjust the weight. Unless you use an adjustable kettlebell, this is impossible.

Kettlebells (especially the newer, wide-handle version) are a bit more suitable for two-handed swings, but most people don’t have a kettlebell that’s heavy enough to make this exercise useful. A much better choice for 2-handed swings is a T-handle. Here is a homemade T-handle for those of you who want to do two handed swings without buying a heavy kettlebell.

Marketing hypesters claim that swings are a “centuries-old secret” training technique used by the kettlebell-toting warriors of yore.  But this is a lie.  In fact, swings are an assistance exercise used by Olympic-style lifters ever since weight lifting became a standardized sport.  However, these professional athletes don’t waste time with kettlebells — instead, they use dumbbells or T-handles and swing for time.

Swings used as a warm-up and conditioning exercise are best performed for time. It’s easy to adjust the weight of your dumbbell to vary the intensity. This way, you can work out for a given period of time. Unless you spend hundreds of dollars on different kettlebells, yours is bound to be either too heavy or too light. With a kettlebell, you can’t use it as a neutral tool; you have to adapt your workout to the constraints of the implement.

Unless you’re using a light kettlebell, it’s nearly impossible to lock out a kettlebell swing overhead. Dumbbell swings are superior in this regard. The swing — just like the snatch or the jerk — used to be a competitive lift ending with the weight overhead; but instead of a barbell, they used dumbbells. Check out dumbbell swings for more info. When you lock out your swings overhead, you make your progress measurable and objective, rather than subjective. The dumbbell swing can be used for competition and training; compare that to its kettlebell analogue, which is useful for nothing more than a warm-up or conditioning movement.

Among kettlebell zealots, there is just too much emphasis on swings as a conditioning movement. While it’s a good move for warm-up before a squat session, it is a terrible choice for everyday cardio or full-body conditioning. Ballistic stretching of the shoulders, elbows and wrist joints is unnecessary and dangerous. Tendons and ligaments are not built for this sort of abuse. Plus, the lower back is not designed to handle high-rep repetitive stress. Athletes like pro boxers (whose sports involve a lot of lower-back repetitive stress) are very careful to avoid low-back overuse. Kettlebell zealots laugh in the face of this very real danger. They overuse kettlebell swings out of ignorance.

Kettlebell clean and press

Barbell cleans are more effective for power development than kettlebell cleans

One of these athletes is cleaning 225 for power training in high school, and he's right under the weight with perfect form. The others (including the famous kettlebell instructor) don't seem to have any goal in mind other than lifting a kettlebell. They can't get under the weight because of the shape of the bell.

The clean and press is a fantastic power movement. Athletes and wannabes alike benefit from this movement. However, the kettlebell clean and press is virtually useless when compared to the barbell equivalent.

Kettlebell cleans are awkward and they sort of defeat the purpose of a clean, which is to rack a weight in preparation for putting it overhead. Cleans with a kettlebell are a more a test of lower-back hyperextension than they are a useful power move suitable for general-purpose training.

And the kettlebell press is less intense than a dumbbell press because you don’t lift the weight as high. This makes things easier on the core and spinal stabilization muscles while still putting unneeded, damaging stress on the forearms, wrists, and hands.

Kettlebell presses are easier than dumbbell presses

Kettlebell presses are much less effective because you don't lift the weight as high.

Overhead kettlebell presses — especially with heavy weights — put a lot of stress on the hands and wrists. The connective tissue in the hands, wrists and forearms takes a long time to heal from training stress or injury. Repetitive-stress injury to this area is a serious problem. Thankfully, some forward-looking companies are building deep-handled kettlebells that lessen this problem, but the problem doesn’t go away entirely.

And while many people purchase a wide handle kettlebell to make it easier to do two-handed swings, these wide-handle bells are difficult to balance overhead unless you get just the right groove. Regular competition-style bells are much more suitable for overhead pressing unless you’re pressing negligible poundages. But one thing’s certain: dumbbells are much more suitable for presses.

The awkward shape makes it impossible to perform heavy, low-rep cleans without spending weeks learning to adapt the move to the implement. The kettlebell training takes precedence, rather than the strength training. You will never see a strong kettlebell athlete who can safely clean as much as he can push press. The kettlebell’s design just doesn’t let you clean heavy weights in a reliable and sustainable manner because you can’t get under the weight. Consequently, kettlebell enthusiasts crow about kettlebell push-pressing 75-pounds overhead. 75 pounds is a weight that high school freshmen laugh at, but kettlebell zealots have convinced themselves that they’re doing something worthwhile by training towards this useless lift.

Lack of adjustability means you can’t design a sensible weight progression into your program.

Form should follow function.  Kettlebells minimalist design is visually pleasing.

Form should follow function. Kettlebells' minimalist design is visually pleasing.

Kettlebell Jerk

Jerks were developed for one reason: to allow you to put up the maximum amount of weight possible.

Performing a jerk with a kettlebell for high reps is like putting the cart before the horse; it makes no sense. The mindless kettlebell zealots who do this don’t seem to question why they are performing this move, they just do it. You might as well practice tying your shoes for reps; it makes just as much sense.

Watch people performing kettlebell jerks on YouTube. Every one of them is performing a push-press with sub-maximal weight, not a true jerk. Calling it a “jerk” just lends an air of legitimacy to the movement.

Kettlebell Snatch

As with jerks, snatches were invented to get as much weight as possible overhead in one clean, fluid motion.

Most kettlebell athletes use fairly light weight (and high reps) during the snatch. And further, they don’t actually snatch the weight overhead. Instead they swing it. Swinging is antithetical to power development.

Unless you’re still trying to learn the movement, performing snatches for reps is silly. It’s the weight that matters in a snatch, not the number of reps.

If you want to snatch, use an adjustable dumbbell and keep the reps constant from workout to workout; base your progression on weight lifted, not reps. And, more importantly, if you use a dumbbell you won’t beat up your forearm or torque your delicate elbow joint.

Kettlebell competition: the good, the bad, and the ugly

If kettlebell competition is your thing, great! Competition of any stripe is healthy, productive, and inspirational. But don’t make exaggerated claims about kettlebell competition just to justify the use of a second-rate piece of equipment.

Full circle: kettlebell athletes make up new exercises to challenge themselves.

Full circle: kettlebell athletes make up new exercises to challenge themselves.

Kettlebells are part of a larger marketing plan. The kettlebell industry does more than just sell you a lump of cast iron. It sells you instruction, competition, and rankings (kettlebell black-belt, anyone?).

It’s a sub-culture in search of a purpose.

Kettlebell subculture reminds me of martial-arts subculture during the 80s. Back then, martial arts schools promised everything: fitness, flexibility, strength, and self-defense.

But they delivered half-baked, physiologically-unsound training methodologies that risked injury without actually teaching anyone to fight very well.

Instead of training like pro fighters (boxers, Olympic wrestlers, kick boxers, et al), martial artists substituted hype for results.

Rather than test themselves in open competition, they designed tournaments that rewarded conformity to the system.

Kettlebell marketers are taking a page out of the martial arts instructors’ playbook. And enthusiasts are falling prey to the same sort of hype.

Remember all the promises in the list of marketing points at the beginning of this article? They are all bogus.

But by the time kettlebell zealots realize they’ve been bamboozled by marketers, they are already ensconced in the cult of kettlebell. The ones that don’t quit justify their continued participation by taking part in competitions that test hard-earned skill with a kettlebell.

Outlandish promises are soon forgotten. The kettlebells become an end in and of themselves, rather than a way forward.

Anything a kettlebell can do, an adjustable dumbbell can do better

Don’t fall prey to the kettlebell marketing hype. Adjustable dumbbells will serve your needs without locking you into a bizarre and counter-productive exercise methodology.

Unless you’ve been brainwashed by the cult of kettlebell, odds are you never wake up in the morning and, out of the blue, decide to see how many kettlebell snatches you can do in five minutes.

The workout tool should not dictate your actions to you; instead, you should choose a tool that helps you reach your goals. Kettlebells don’t help you do anything but get better at manipulating a kettlebell.

Please read the comment policy here before firing off a comment, thanks. Due to the large number of (mostly redundant) comments, I no longer accept comments that evince stupidity.

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{ 250 comments… read them below or add one }

Renaldo September 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm

This is excellent advice. Kettlebells are hyped by people trying to make a $$$. It is a shame to see so much focus placed on such a limited and limiting piece of workout equipment. Get a good set of weights and forget the kettlebells.

Reply

Nate March 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm

To say one fitness tool is better than another has got to be the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard. Granted, for the purpose of gaining muscle MASS, barbells are clearly superior. Gaining STRENGTH (a different skill all-together) and can be gained in many different ways. This is voiced by individuals who have gained the title of “Masters of Sports”. Be intelligent and pick the right tool for the job, learn all you can on how to properly conduct each chosen exercise and progress will be made. Skill is required for all lifts for safety and effectiveness. I have made progress with every tool I have used for simple knowledge.

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Thomas March 10, 2012 at 3:16 am

To say one fitness tool is better than another has got to be the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard

Really? That’s the most “ignorant” thing you’ve ever heard? What a peculiar thing to write.

Guess what? It’s the 21st century. Insults don’t work on the internet any longer. These days, if you want to be taken seriously, you need facts and objective evidence to support an argument based on reasoning and logic. Typing some ridiculous insults and incomprehensible innuendo doesn’t make you look particularly smart.

If you want to begin to support your argument, you’ll have to explain exactly how kettlebells are any better as a “fitness tool” than milk jugs filled with cement. Can you — with your claim that no fitness tool is better than another — do that? I’m waiting…

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Steve "kettlebell boy" Freides September 26, 2009 at 4:07 am

I used to be virtually in love with kettlebells, but after reading this, I see how wrong I was.

Thanks for this information.

–Steve

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Kettlebellking September 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Steve,

I love your response! LOL. The author of this article is completely misinformed and presents faulty arguments. I have had considerable experience with Barbells, Dumbbells, Power Lifting and Body Building training and competition. I have trained thousands of people. The results that my students and athletes enjoy from Kettlebell Training is unparallelled by any other single method.
I don’t have the time to refute his silly commentary – Simply look at the image of the guy pressing. His form is horrific.
I have to go. I need to swing, press, squat & get up!

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Alex Moisescu October 26, 2009 at 10:19 am

Hello:

It is clearly that the author of this post does not have any kind of experience training with kettlebells.

I started strength training in 1993 when I was 17 years old. After 13 years of training just with barbells and dumbbells I started to use kettlebells.

Results?

Before using KB I could do shoulder press with 2 dumbbells of 40 kg each. With one month of KB standing press I went up to 50 kg also with dumbbells and KB.

Before I could not do perfect squats lower than parallel, because I was inflexible. After KB swings , this was solved.

I do not want to say which are better, but barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells should be staples in any sound weight training program.

What are KB best at ?

Clean and jerk

KB are definetly better than dumbbells because you can “rack” a KB, while you can not rack a dumbbell. You need to rack (to keep it stable on your upper chest and shoulder)the weight to stabilize it at the top of the clean. If you can not rack the weight well, you can not do any jerk, because you would not be able to transfer the strength of your legs and hips in order to jerk the weight above your head.

Dumbbells are not really good for clen and jerk, but KB are.

Barbells are good, but unfortunately , most of the trainees can not perform a proper rack.

Snatch

Because the shape of the KB, you can stabilize it at the top of the drill. You can not stabilize a heavy dumbbell.

A heavy dumbbell 40 – 50 kg is huge and it may broke your knees when swinging it between legs, while the KB is much smaller for the same weight.

Swings

The hip thrust is the most powerfull move of the human body, used for running, jumping, throwing, punching, lifting. You can execute the swing properly just if you let the weight go back between your legs, in order to properly load your hamstrings.
Try to swing a 50 kg dumbbell and you will want badly a kettlebell.

The KB is better for Turkish Get Up, Shoulder press, Windmill, Bent press, Weighted Pistol squats – all major drills.

Dumbbells are better for bench press, curls , extension.

Beside kettlebells cost the same as dumbbells, or will cost the same in the near future. ( I live in China and I know the production prices and costs) .

Kb are much better than dumbbells for overall conditioning, when training stamina, muscle endurance, power endurance, balance , coordination.

Dumbbells may be better , just for bodybuilding.

When designing a strength and conditioning programs you should consider more things:

1. What are your goals ?

2. What physical qualities do you want to improve ?

3. How much time do you want to invest ?

Here are the best strength and conditioning drills in my oppinion:

1. Squat – barbell, KB pistol
2. Deadlift – barbell
3. Kettlebell snatch
4. Kettlebell clean & jerk
5. Pull ups
6. Dips
7. Kettlebell shoulder press
8. Kettlebell Turkish Get Up
9. Bench press – barbell, dumbbells
10. Bent over row – barbell, kettlebells, dumbbells
11. Gorilla crunch
12. Kettlebell windmill
13. Kettlebell swing

Conclusion:

Kettlebells are an excellent tool for overall conditioning.
With a KB you can train strength, power, stamina, cardiovascular endurance, muscle endurance, coordination, agility, precision, balance.
Kettlebells are best for home training providing “the best bang for your buck”.

Dumbbells and barbells are good also.
In the near future kettlebells will become a staple for any training center.

For more information read my kettlebell blog .

http://www.kettlebell102.blogspot.com

Read to achieve !

Alex

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Attila July 21, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Well written.

Interestingly, post like yours, which make sense, built on facts, don’t get a rteply from the author… weird…

One addition from me: The author claims, that handling KBs need skill, and that’s a negative side. Well, anything that developes skill, developes you. While learning new skills, you stimulate your nervous system, your muscles, etc. With different type of movements, that your body is already used to, you move muscles a way they might not have moved before.

All this does not really seem negative, if you think about it a bit.

Clearly the author of the article has negative experience with KBs. Many do. But this does not show how bad KBs are, but rather how unprepared the author was.

The numbers on the weights are also only numbers. If you can handle less weight then with DBs, well. So? Handle less. That way only your EGO wiullk get hurt, not your wrists… :)

Lastly, learning KB skills isn’t good for anything but handling KBs? Fine, just think of a DB preacher curl, and list the practical uses of the movement… (Or, my favorite, the bench press, can be practical, when, while repairing your car, it falls on you, and you have to push it off your body…). Not every movement we do while we train is of practical use, but most should be. And KBs are awkward, “real-life-type” objects, as, in real life, many times you’d have to lift something heavy, which would NOT be ergonomically shaped. At all. (And also, if you train because it’s comfortable, you got something very wrong there…)

That be all now.

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Thomas July 21, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Clearly the author of the article has negative experience with KBs. Many do. But this does not show how bad KBs are, but rather how unprepared the author was.

I assure you that if you try to ascribe motives to “the author” other than those that have been stated numerous times (writing articles that help skinny kids bulk up and add muscle mass), you’re only making a fool out of yourself. My motives are clear and unambiguous. No, I didn’t have a “negative experience” with KBs, and why you think I “clearly” have is beyond me. In fact if you do a search on this site (google site:skinnybulkup.com kettlebell), you’ll find that I’ve mentioned kettlebells in a positive light a few times. But since they’re totally inappropriate for skinny guys who want to bulk up, I took the time to write a detailed, factual article explaining why they are inferior to dumbbells.

Unfortunately, rather than add to the value of this page by adding facts that either support or detract from my argument, most kettlebell experts take the ultimately futile route of attacking and speculating about the author’s motivations.

anything that developes skill, developes you

Perhaps I have another motive: to rescue impressionable young kids from silly platitudes like that one. Mysticism has no place here.

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Lexi Skaggs December 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I find this article objective in its title due to the clear focus on dumbbells being superior period.But from my interpretation of this article, it appears that the true focus is their benefits in bulking up and strength training. In that respect, I have no opinion. My goals with kettlebells is solely to develop lean muscle and flexibility while enjoying the extra benefit of cardio. I find that in general, people at the local gym are also in the same situation I am. The majority of the population is not pro athletes or those looking to become professionals. From that regard, maybe the kettlebell marketers should focus their resources on promoting lean strong muscles, flexibility, and time saving workouts that provide solid weight maintenance either from home or at the gym.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Hey Thomas, I heard it takes a lot of skill to do overhead presses while balancing on 1 leg on a swiss ball. If I do this, it will develope me, so this makes it a good strength training method right?

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Sandy Sommer, RKC October 26, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Clearly, this author was atttempting humor. I think. All I can say is wow.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm

That doesn’t seem very clear, it seems written in a serious enough tone with some valid observations.

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Robert Miller October 26, 2009 at 11:35 pm

If you read this you will find zero facts. It’s all opinion of one person and they are misinformed. This is what’s wrong with the fitness industry. Disregard this website as non-sense.

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Thomas October 27, 2009 at 12:30 am

Robert: I’m surprised that you didn’t find at least one “fact” in the article. You would be more credible if you’d claimed there were “few” facts, “debatable” facts, “cherry-picked” facts, or “unimportant” facts; but “zero” facts? That’s a bizarre statement, even if it comes from an anonymous internet troll.

Perhaps you’re in denial (which is the first stage of kettlebell-withdrawl grief). Have no fear, acceptance will arrive eventually.

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Brian April 18, 2011 at 1:53 am

I gotta say although I disagree almost 100% with your article. I love your rationality in your replies to the readers comments.I have been traing with both traditional weights and KBs for several years now. I like both styles but I have to admit KBs have done the most for my overall strength. from my core to my legs and arms. My cardio has improves as well. If you ever get the urge I hope you will give them a shot. Oh and the most well trained atheletes all around are pro. MMA fighters and KB are a staple in their fight training.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Robert is clearly caught up in the Kettlebell mindset if they’re advocating things like “zero facts”.

For example, one indisputable fact is how much more expensive kettlebells are on average compared to dumbbells. About the only place you’d find them ~ the same price is New York Barbell.

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Mike March 30, 2012 at 3:14 am

Kettlebells might be cheaper than dumbbells, but I think few here realise how expensive a quality set of barbell and weights can be. I’m talking professional quality like Eleiko here. Just the barbell can be something like 500 bucks.

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Dave October 27, 2009 at 12:17 am

1. Swing a 106 pound dumbbell between your legs, especially one of those “easily manipulatged” adjustable ones. When you get back from having both of your knees replaced, call me.
2. If you get blisters during a kettlebell swing, you are an idiot. The swing, by nature, doesn’t rotate the bell in your hand.
3. A dumbbell is ergonomic? Come on. If a dumbbell we ergonomic, briecases, shopping bags, suitcases, and your purse would be build that way — with the wieght over the ends. The kettlebell more closely resembles things we carry in everyday life.
4. Adjustable dumbbells are more beneficial? The time I waste adjusting dumbbells can be better suited sitting at the coffee shop after my workout. I own dumbbells as well as kettlebells, and I would never touch the adjustable ones. It is not the adjustable dumbbells that are designed “Ergonomically.” It is the fixed weight ones.
5. Cost? Cost of kettlebells is comparable to dumbbells.
Don’t let the facts get in the way of your writing.

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Thomas October 27, 2009 at 12:44 am

Dave:
* Heavy swings are better with a T-handle. It makes the weight easily adjustable. Why waste money on a 100-pound kettlebell when you can have an adjustable T-handle for a few dollars?
* Don’t idiots deserve a blister-free existence too? Have pity on those whom you feel are your intellectual inferiors.
* Yes, dumbbells are ergonomically-designed; this is in marked contrast to kettlebells, whose adherents take pride in the fact that bells are a less-than-ideal piece of workout equipment from a long-term usability standpoint.
* Whether you would “touch” an adjustable dumbbell is immaterial. Have you seen a modern adjustable dumbbell? You can change the weight in less than a second. Welcome to the 21st century!
* Cost of kettlebells may be “comparable” to dumbbells, but since they’re much less useful, it’s still a rip-off.

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willie November 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

I agree here I’m 53 years old and have lifted, worked out w/ bodyweight and weights since being in the military soem 30 years ago, recently discovered kettlebells, they are very hard on the wrists and elbow joints no need to do high rep sets in swing or snatch. I have gone back to bodyweight pullups, handstand pushups , squats and lunges and some barbell clean & press.I have damage to my left hand and right wrist by going extreme with KB’s they are not good!

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sifter November 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Well, the price of KB’s is coming down. I saw Jesupgym.com has DD clones for just $1.00/per pound. Even with shipping they’re cheap. Fitness Outlet here in Chicago has ‘em for $1.25/lb.

Regarding ‘better’… I like Dumbbell snatches better. I feel more of a full body effect. I also feel more forearm strength and growth with dumbbells…. kettlebells you can hook without using muscles much, but release a dumbbell for a second and you’ve got problems!

However, I do find kettlebells superior, to me, for swings and overhead presses. Regarding the latter, I find the dumbbells put too much tension into my trap/neck area, whereas the kettlebells don’t.

IF they were all at the same price (and you can find used dumbbells for 0.54cents/lb in Chicago) I’d got with the KB. But if people are still paying $2/lb plus shipping, I don’t see how that price is in any way warranted. Just my opinion.

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John Logan December 4, 2009 at 12:27 am

All I can say is, Thank God someone has published this article.
It may protect many people from real injury.
I’ve researched this subject well over the past 8 months because I broke my left forearm in April while doing a set of kettlebell snatches. I now have a steel plate and 6 screws placed on my radius bone.
I have tried to post warnings on various kettlebell forums etc, only to meet with brainwashed individuals often hurling abuse at me, or simply calling me a liar!
They do not believe such an injury can happen unless someone is “an idiot” (the kettlebell fraternity love to call people idiots for some reason, especially if someone gets injured with a kettlebell…)
In my case I was fit and strong, 42, 210 pounds, I had been training with the 24kg bell for 9 months, very happily, I had believed all the books and DVDs…I was doing sets 6 cleans and preses…and sets of 8 snatches regularly and easily, for months…no bruises or pain to warn me my “form was bad”…but one mis-timed snatch in April and I was in hospital for 2 days and getting my first ever surgery.
This article above is the first I have seen published for many years, daring to criticise the kettlebell.
If you search online you find articles from 2002-2003, like Ray Brennan’s good one about “kettlebell hype”…but the kettlebell marketing machine must have hit overdrive around 2004 and I know how effective that gang can be at silencing dissenting voices…I posted the detail of my injury on the main US kettlebell forum…it had 5000 readers…until the forum bosses deleted the post.
No way do they want people to be warned they could break their arms while snatching.
That would hurt the wallet.
The only thing wrong with the article above is that it UNDERSTATES the risk when it says the kettlebell can bruise or pinch, as my case proves.
I had trained safely for 24 years, with weights, bodyweight etc, with no injuries, before that April incident.
John Logan

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Thomas December 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Hi John:

Sorry to hear of your troubles; I hope your injured arm heals up as good as new.

I suppose any exercise equipment can cause injuries, not just kettlebells. What I take issue with is the way kettlebell people claim near-magical qualities for what is a very basic piece of equipment. It is not a handheld gym, it is merely a weight.

Nobody starts using kettlebells because they want to see how many snatches they can do before fatigue sets in. They start becasue they believe some of the marketing hype that I show examples of in the 2nd paragraph.

Later, as the ridiculous hype is proved false, many drift away from kettlebells as the main focus of their workouts. But those that stick with it end up doing meaningless and ultimately harmful routines which build repetitive-stress injuries and other unwanted problems.

Since this site is a collection of my advice to skinny young kids who want to bulk up, I try to write articles that address that issue. When I began to get more and more questions from kids who were being seduced by the kettlebell hype, I wrote this article. Kettlebells are fine for some things — you might even find that I’ve mentioned them a time or two in some of my other articles — but they’re singularly inappropriate for the target audience of this website.

Everything in moderation!

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Alex October 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm

In all fairness, you can just as easily seriously injure yourself with any weight, be it a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell or some other weird variation you made in your basement. I personally feel alot safer snatching two kettlebells above my head that will safely fall to the ground if i fail as opposed to a heavily weighted bar that will fall on my head/neck/shoulders.

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Thomas October 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Your argument is fatally flawed.

You can’t “just as easily seriously injure yourself with” a barbell or dumbbells. This is because barbells and dumbbells been designed to address the design flaws which are inherent to obsolete implements like the kettlebell. Modern weight training equipment is vastly superior to kettlebells and other obsolete weights. Further, the exercises and movements used by modern coaches and trainees are superior to the useless exercises touted by kettlebell con men instructors.

Hey, did you know that barbells and dumbbells are modern strength training implements used by successful amateur and professional athletes all over the world? These athletes actually set measurable, objective goals for themselves. Then they train to reach those goals. And during training, they use barbells and sometimes dumbbells. That’s right, barbells and dumbbells are not the same as kettlebells or “weird variations” someone made in his basement. They’re actual professional tools used by folks who succeed, rather than by folks who simply talk a good game but don’t measure themselves against other competitors.

As for your second ‘point’, I don’t believe your claim that barbells make you feel unsafe. I think you’re what’s called a concern troll. I think safety is really the last thing on your mind when you think about barbells and kettlebells.

Hey, did you know that it’s hard to snatch kettlebells? That’s right; it’s because their shape makes it difficult to get under the weight. You can’t snatch kettlebells, you can only swing them. In fact, there’s really no such thing as a kettlebell snatch, only a combo of a swing and a push press. It’s a shame, but kettlebell instructors won’t tell you that. They want to use the word ‘snatch’ because it makes the movement sound athletic and useful, rather than boring and useless.

Thanks for the comment, and good luck!

Edit: I’ve deleted the other comments you left because they ran afoul of the comment policy”. This was especially true of the comments where you pretend to be someone else (making you an identity deception troll). You should know that it’s 2011 and trolling doesn’t work very well anymore. These days, you have to actually make a factually-supported argument if you want anyone to take you seriously. Good luck!

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Thomas even though concern trolling is a possibility here, I don’t think levying the accusation is ever very useful. This is some good exploration of this topic:
http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?AccusationThatAssumesKnowledgeOfInternalMotives
http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?FixContentNotMotivation

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D. Stocker April 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm

There is a key difference between traditional Dumbbell snatches and Kettlebell snatches. Usually with a dumbbell snatch, the bell is lifted straight up using the knees and then overhead. However with the kettlebell, it involves swinging the bell like a pendulum through the legs and then thrusting with the hips, with the arm tucked in tightly to drive the bell up. Afterwards, the bell is pulled in and then speared upward. Done correctly, there should be no jerking of the joints, slamming on the wrists or friction on the palms. The kettlebells design allows for momentum and better utilization of core strength. This is why it is so popular in MMA, due to that explosive whole body power being used in the compound exercises. The power generated from the hips increases striking and shooting power.

IMO, each piece of equipment has their place. The barbell is best for raw strength. It helps build mass and it is much easier to add weight for better strength development. Squats, deadlifts, benching…all more efficient with the barbell if you want to pack on mass.

Dumbbells are best for isometric exercises, however compound exercises with dumbbells are definitely possible. While not as stable as the barbell, their design allows for much more stability than the kettlebell. This is great for bodybuilding, because you can focus on a single muscle group for toning. The same can be said about weight machines, however machines sacrifice training stabilizer muscles for added support for heavier weights.

The kettlebell is more for endurance, toning, functional power. The use of momentum is easier with the kettlebell due to the handle, and because the entire body is worked in many of the compound exercises, it simulates real functional power. Also due to the design, it requires more stabilization, especially from the core.

One of Thomas’ arguments is that you don’t see many pro athletes using the kettlebell for training, but that is mostly due to the kettlebell just recently gaining popularity. Most athletes actually get their endurance and functional power training through cardio, actually training in their sport and calisthenics.

Take MMA for example. You’ll see a lot of those fighters doing circuit training using the tried and true methods. Tire flipping, sandbag training, high intensity calisthenics, running, swimming, heavy bag training, rope work…it isn’t about building muscle, but putting lots of stress on the body for endurance. Power doesn’t just come from strength, but from speed and cardio too. They also incorporate kettlebell training INTO this circuit training. Check out this link of UFC fighter Clay Guida using kettlebells in his routine. This guy is known for his cardio, energy and high paced fighting style. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3Q19VnewK4

What the kettlebell does is combine strength training with cardio, so your getting power. All those reps are for endurance, which is functional in a sports.

I also see Thomas talk about how kettlebells put unnecessary straight on the grip, but in many exercises, such as heavy lifting with barbells, require very strong grip. I personally use grip trainers to help with this, because I do not like using wraps to aid in my lifting. Also once again, grip strength helps in striking power for fighting as well. The same goes with wrist strength. All of these tendons and joints need a workout just as much as your muscles do. If done CORRECTLY that is.

Anyways, the Snatch and Swing can be broken down in multiple movements, but it should be preformed smoothly in one motion. To transition (momentium) the power generated from the core (abs/glutes/hips) and then utilize that strength with the arms to spear it upward feels much more natural with the kettlebell IMO.

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D. Stocker April 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Here is some more footage of Clay’s speed, agility and endurance in the octagon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCMf4lhFlEE

Once again, I feel kettlebells definitely have their place in functional athletic power and endurance.

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D. Stocker April 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Notice how this chick is doing the kettlebell snatch. It appears to be a swinging motion, but the key here is NOT in the arms, but in the entire body propelling the bell in one smooth motion. It works the CORE, not the arms, but rather the hips, glutes, thighs and quads.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfkJAy8g9AI

Also notice how she is doing lots of reps, this is because she is doing it for endurance, cardio and fitness rather than raw strength and putting on mass. Look at his physique. She doesn’t have overly large muscular arms, but her quads and glutes are well defined.

Also watch this video, this guy really breaks down the kettlebell snatch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qajlDsLFyk&feature=share&list=PL7xUOav8ATDL8Ss_IeBXzIfmKOY2HRB35

Notice it is all about momentum. All too often I see examples of dumbbell and kettlebell snatches, where the person is lifting the bell straight up using the knees as the power generator rather than the hips/core.

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Ray December 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Since getting involved with kettlebells about 8 months ago, I have really enjoyed working with them. I rapidly progressed from 16 -24 -32 kg bells and thought my form was pretty good.

Recently I started getting pain in my wrists and hand whilst doing overhead presses with the 32kg. The pain was getting so bad that I had to take a break and use dumbells instead for any overhead lifts.

I honestly believe that kettlebells do place unnecessary stress on the wrist and elbow when pressing higher weights overhead and not to mention the bisters on the hands with snatches and one hand swings.

I only use kettlebells for two handed swings now as a warm up excercise and have switched to dumbells for all overhead lifts and snatches. The dumbells are more comfortable and still provide a great workout. At least I can easily increase/decrease the weight and have no more pain in the wrist.

Kettlebells are great for rows but you can’t easily increase the weight.

Each to their own.

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Thomas December 9, 2009 at 2:23 am

Hi ray:

As you probably know, some kettlebells have “deeper” handles than others. A deeper handle lets you get away with not bending your wrist as much as with earlier, less ergonomically-designed kettlebells. This is definitely the way to go.

When kettlebells were first being popularized less than a decade ago, they were cheaply made from cast iron. The manufacturing process necessitated thick, stubby handles that were anything but comfortable or ergonomically correct.

But in recent times, and in part due to experiences such as yours, some manufacturers are making k’bells with forged handles which are much better than the cast iron wrist-wreckers that they replace.

To anyone who is thinking of taking up kettlebell “training”: don’t skimp on price; make sure to get a deep-handled kettlebell.

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patrick December 27, 2009 at 12:20 am

Hey guys

I found this post because I was concerned about the risks of KB training. I’ve never done it, but I am looking for an efficient way to get a good workout that includes strength training and some endurance. I recently moved from FL to NY and started law school. While I have always been a member of a gym, I find that now I have little free time, am away from my place too much as it is (I have dogs), and can’t train outdoors in the winter. I can no longer afford the 2 hr workouts at the gym full of quality equipment. I have that pathetic feeling you get when you go from regular exercise to a fully sedentary lifestyle, and I need something (anything) to balance the stress of school with physical activity. The KB seemed to offer shortened workouts with a fair balance of strength and cardio that could be accomplished at home. Perfect. But without ever having tried it, it is still easy to see where they can be cruel to the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and back (I was always taught NOT to swing the weights). So my question is this: What is the best way to get a fairly short (30 min per day?), well balanced workout at home without buying a ton of equipment or machines that take will take up half of my little NY apartment? I have little extra cash, so whatever route I take here will be the one I’ll have to stick with for a while. The KB was particularly attractive because, though the weight is fixed, it seems one will at least get you started, and one KB with a starter video or book is still far cheaper than a pair of adjustable dumbells (which would mean a bench as well). Any suggestions would be a great help. In advance, Thank You.

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Thomas December 27, 2009 at 8:16 am

My focus with this site is to give skinny kids the info they need to add muscle. Kettlebells don’t help them reach that goal.

But for your purposes, a typical kettlebell routine might be fine, especially if you mixed it up with some other workouts. I wouldn’t advise restricting yourself to kettlebells, or making them the sole focus of your exercise regimen, but as one part of a comprehensive fitness routine, they’re fine.

Having said that, there’s very little, if anything, that you can do with a kettlebell and not with a dumbbell. Kettlebell-style workouts are nothing new. They’re simply Olympic-lifting routines altered to fit around the constraints imposed by a kettlebell.

Whatever you do, make sure the workout is tailored around your ultimate goals. Too many kettlebell cultists end up modifying their initial goals to align with kettlebell culture rather than making the kettlebell work for them.

Maybe you’d enjoy the rosstraining.com forum; it’s full of people who don’t necessarily rely on a fully-equipped gym.

Good Luck.

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Sev January 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I respect the author’s opinion, however if I may lend out a word of advice to anyone whom has harmed themselves using the kettlebell: Either research how to execute the exercise properly before attempting it, or have a trainer with you as you perform the techniques. Mastering the kettlebell is an art, unlike dumbells which in my opinion are not efficient tools for entire body workouts. I say this because dumbells get to a size where you can’t possible do the same exercises as the kettlebell. You can do any exercise with a 100 Ib kettlebell that you can do with a 100 Ib dumbell. You cannot do most of the kettlebell exercises with a 100Ib dumbell, as opposed to a 100 Ib kettlebell. This is the truth.

There is a right way and a wrong way to using the kettlebells just as there is a right way and a wrong way to using dumbells. Blisters in the hand, use gloves. Harming yourself through jerks and swings, stretch next time. As far as the whole disadvantage of adjusting the weight, my opinion: Next time think before you purchase the kettlebell. Assess the fact that it is a fixed weight. When you purchase it, master that weight before you complain about not being able to adjust it. The kettlebell is not built for JUST strength conditioning such as the dumbell. The kettlebell is built for all types of exercise.

As far as the question asked: “Did NFL players, Olympic track-and-field competitors, pro bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, soldiers, professional boxers, and other top athletes spend their early years learning how to manipulate a kettlebell?” The answer is…they did. They do. And they always will. Ever hear of the Spetsnaz…Russian Special Forces? Did you know that Russian soldiers were issued a standard 53 Ib kettlebell? NFL? Maybe they do although, personally, I don’t consider NFL players as the epitome of human peak fitness. Why don’t they advertise it? Their bodies are not accustomed to the kettlebells. They would hurt themselves before moving up to the same weight they use with regular dumbells. Olympic track and field? Depending on the sport, they do. You’re not going to be lifting a lot of weights if you do distance and even then, not heavy ones. As far as shot putters, I am one currently and I use it all the time. And though I cannot speak for the other shot putters, I can tell you now that the kettlebell was no stranger to them. Olympic weight lifters? First off, the Kettlebell is not a straight bar with two ends with a bunch of weights on them. Go on Youtube and look up Kettlebell competitions. They do have international kettlebell lifting competetions and I assure you, comrade, these are not just bulky hulks of clumsy muscle trotting about. Some of those kettlebells are close to or are around 200 Ibs. Professional Boxers use the kettlebell all the time. Expose yourself to their training regiments before making such an assumption that they don’t.

What it really comes down to is preference. Some people don’t like using the kettlebell for whatever reason just as others, such as myself, aren’t crazy about using dumbells. Some people prefer using their own body weight or using resistance bands. It, in the end, comes down to preference. I will always choose the kettlebell as my personal tool of conditioning. I respectfully implore that you research the tool more, take a few classes (yes they do have classes on how to manipulate the kettlebell) and try it a little more often for yourself. You may find yourself actually liking it.

Good Luck, comrade.
Kettlebell Power to You
Sev

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John Logan January 15, 2010 at 3:39 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfuJyB0XB9Q

Sev,
before I “harmed myself using a kettlebell” as you put it, I did thoroughly research how to do the snatch exercise (the one that broke my arm so badly it had to be reconstructed with 6 screws and a steel plate). I used several books and dvds, “comrade”, the same ones you will have seen. Using them, I was able to snatch happily and safely with no warnings of bad form such as pain or bruising, for 6 months of weekly snatching sessions.
Who would not think at that point the exercise was “mastered”?
But still, one day I went to do a set and the bell broke my arm…at speed I lost control of it for a fraction of a second.
With a kettlebell that is all it takes.
No amount of research or moderation can protect you from that increased risk level.
As for proper instruction, the above link is to a display of kettlebell juggling, demonstrated by an accredited and respected and qualified kettlebell teacher, whose methods are endorsed by the leading …”ex-spetsnaz” to use your language…kettlebell teacher on a “kettlebell juggling” website.
It’s all great, until a few people over the next several years get hold of the dvds teaching these moves…believe me, many of these people will not have paid kettlebell instructors handy to keep them safe (if they can)…
Did you know that the human foot can not always be repaired successfully if broken…not to speak of the human head…or back.
The young fellow there is only juggling with a 16kg bell in that link…but he has another on Youtube where it is a 32kg bell he is launching high overhead and watching it come down again towards his face just before he catches it.
There’s no margin for error at all.
And these guys are the “teachers”!
They absolutely do not give a xxxx about all the potential injuries their bad info will be causing over the next few years.
As long as they can sell their books and DVDs…and $1600 weekend courses… to guys like you who will then go round spouting the comrade/spetsnaz/da kattleball is gut mumbo jumbo…then they will stay in business and the virus will keeep spreading.
Get well soon Sev,
Logan

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Reigle February 3, 2010 at 11:41 am

What exactly happened? You are being a bit vague on the details of your incident. This is the first major injury I have heard of from kettlebell use. No doubt there are more. Everyone needs to be very cautious when using a weight of any size or shape. Good fom is essential.

I am looking for training to carry over into real life. Improve general athletic conditioning, strength, flexibility, the like. KB’s definitly fit the bill.

I personally own a 16 kg KB and find it more usefull than my total 145 lb. barbell and adjustable dumbbell set. I am very limited there and cannot justify the expence of more weights.

Proper form and skill are far more important than what your training tool is. You can use nothing but your bodyweight and still succed in most things. Not everything. The same goes for every other fitness tool or training system.

I would like to know details on both your KB training history and your injury.

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John Logan February 14, 2010 at 5:10 am

Reigle,
I trained for 24 years: weight training, bodyweight training, yoga, chi kung, running.
From 1985-1987 I worked as a trainer in a gym, the only trainer there, teaching weight training: no-one of the dozens of people I taught over the years was ever injured.
Then, at age 40, I bought a 24 kg kettlebell.
I was not vague at all: I trained with it for 9 months, sets of 6 cleans and presses per arm/ sets of 8 snatches per arm. Did this once a week, had no signs of bad form such as the only kind warned of in the books and DVDs I owned, like bruises or pain in forearm or wrist after snatches, none of that.
Then went in the garden one day, April 4 last year, (can’t remember exactly what time in case you’ll say I’m being vague…late afternoon though…ok?)…I’d warmed up with sets of cleans and presses, sets of high pulls. Then started my usually weekly set of snatches I’d done safely for months and months by then with no probs…first rep fine….2nd rep broke my arm.
2 days in hospital…morphine…surgery…now a steel plate and 6 screws stuck in the arm so deep that surgeons are afraid to take it out for fear of nerve damage, 10 months later.
What is vague about that?
If you want the full exhaustive detail you can Google “kettlebell snatch broken arm”..I typed a blow by blow account (with one finger) on the Transformetrics website…maybe you’ll find whatever kernel of detail there that I am failing to supply you with now.
In fact, if you Google it, you’ll find quite a few forums and posts I made over several months.
I still think the worst thing going on right now is that the kettlebell gurus are now pushing kettlebell juggling…see my earlier post.
And the world’s biggest Ruskie kettlebell guru is directly endorsing the kettlebell juggling website, right at the top of the page…advising people to juggle kettlebells at speed overhead…the main teacher is on Youtube juggling a 32kg iron ball and it nearly hits his skull more than once.
Someone is going to end up dead or in a vegetative state sooner or later.
If none of this is specific enough for you Reigle, you just let me know.
By the way, I used the 24kg bell because the 16kg was too light for me to snatch or press…it felt like a toy (and for that reason I do not believe the story that training with a 16kg prepares you for a 24kg).
A 16kg will not break your arm.
A 24kg will.
That’s all I know.
Either will fracture your skull though, if you juggle them.
I’ll try to tell you again: I trained for 24 years, myself and others, weights, bodyweight, yoga, chi kung…I did not injure myself ever, I did not injure anyone I trained, ever.
Then I get a kettlebell, and I’m in hospital 9 months later.

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Michael January 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm

with all the respect it does sound like a fatigue injury. I heard soldiers can brake their feet if they march for long distances while carrying heavy rucksack. I have even heard a guy broke his hand due to a heavy rolex copy watch. It was a guy in my boxing club during a session he had to quite to a serious pain in his left hand, he x-rayed it and it turned out that he had got several small fractures. He though it was because of the boxing but it turned out that to be the watch, His wrist band was too loose and everytime he wore it would go up and down hitting his wrist, just like the soldier marching it eventually caused small fractures in the hand and the day he did boxing training it was the last drop so to say.

Just my 2 cents.

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Jutta June 7, 2012 at 7:41 am

A stress fracture usually doesn’t need fixation with 6 screws. 6 screws sound like a fractured fracture, something I can very easily imagine a heavy kettlebell does to a forearm. I personnally do not understand why this should even be debatable and why John has to proof his point again and again. It’s absolutely plausible.

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D. Stocker April 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm

If you do the snatch correctly, the bell should barely come in contact with the back of the arm. You arm shouldn’t lock out completely, and the bell should sort of “hang”. Yes, it may rest on the arm, but spearing of the arm should not be jerky, and your grip should be lose enough to allow a smooth transition.

If you have problems with the bell smacking the back of your arms, try using wrist guards. I personally like using gloves and wrist guards for my heavier bells rather than chalk, just because it doesn’t make such a mess and also because it is more comfortable when racking the bells.

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Ben Reynolds March 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm

I wish you a speedy and complete recovery, John.

I’m a college undergrad who has recently purchased a 24 kg bell of my own (in place of a gym membership) under the premise of training for the USSS snatch test. After considering your posts, I’ve decided that for my fitness goals I have no need to condition the bones of my forearms to withstand repeated contact with heavy iron flung at maximum speed. It seems like common sense, when the kettlebell mystique is removed, that the risk to benefit ratio of the snatch is exceptionally dangerous compared to other movements.

Further, no RKC has been able to provide a consistent rationale for why the snatch provides better athletic benefits than a high pull or one armed swing performed to head level. That seemingly negligible flipping action of the bell does seem to infuse the snatch with more risk than benefit, especially when the weight becomes as heavy as 32 kg.

I’ve decided to adopt the moderate approach to kettlebells, using the strict military press and turkish get up (neither of which absolutely require a kettlebell) for upper body conditioning, and using the one armed swing and high pull for posterior chain development and cardiovascular conditioning. I still stand by aspects of the RKC training philosophy, but with serious reservations concerning ballistic movements with a potential for impact.

It should stand to reason that regardless of whether kettlebell lifters agree with your account or not, the precautionary principle dictates that we should weigh potential risks with potential benefits. This is a basic law of choice and economics. Athletically, suppose a parkour club decided that running downstairs two steps at a time was the proper way to run stairs, simultaneously training coordination, reaction speed, and concentration under fatigue (the claims of the USSS kettlebell snatch test). Suppose even one of them fell and broke an arm while running downstairs two at a time.

A member of the club might criticize the injured person’s technique like a bully…

Or they might conclude that the risk of running in that fashion negates any perceived benefit, and further, that running downstairs one step at a time would yield the same benefits without the same potential for disaster. For those who train with kettlebells, I suggest considering the benefits and risks of each movement, and diminishing risks when possible.

I believe you’ve done a service to the fitness community through your testimonial, John. Best of luck,

-Ben Reynolds
Nevada, USA

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Personal Trainer January 18, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Interesting article. There is really no better or worse tool overall. It depends on what is your purpose.

I like to the kettlebells for what they are. I do not like the balance of dumbbells. Kettlebell movements feel lively. Dumbbells movements feel dull.

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billy January 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

i highly disagree. kettlebell worked cardio and muscle at the same time and the cardio aspect was very difficult. i wouldnt say only use one or the other but putting kettlebells into a training routine for me put me over the hump, helped me lose weight i couldnt do with dumbells and cardio alone and seriously gave me a six pack with muscles on the sides of the six pack too.

if you hurt your arms your form is wrong. this article is just plain idiotic.

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diamond February 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I”ve used both implements. Finally sold my KB. I also bought into the hype. Here is the thing: kb presses are actually easier than same weight dumbell presses. With a KB, you can stil open your hand, somewhat relax your grip, and still get it up. With a dumbbell, relax your grip for a second and the db will come out of your hand.
Same goes for Farmers Walks… walk with a kettlebell, you can just let it hook around your fingers and walk. Try that with a dumbbell and watch what happens.
Furthermore, KB proponents often tout that KBs are superior for presses because of the rotational force one has to fight, you therefore utilize all the small shoulder stabilizers, so the argument goes. BUT… a fixed weight hex head dumbbell also has two forces, one left of your hand and one right, its more of a lever than a rotation, but its something your hand and arm also have to fight as it were. IF anything, that rotational force can tear the crap out of your shoulder if you aren’t PERFECT in your form, like the above Mr. Logan stated. Who is THAT good, EVERY TIME?
I’ll stick with DBs. Play It Again Sports has ‘em for 49 cents a pound ussed, 75 cents new. Beats $2/lb plus shipping on those big ole overrated kookieballs.

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Sev April 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Very good point and I share you’re opinion when you wrote: “Furthermore, KB proponents often tout that KBs are superior for presses because of the rotational force one has to fight, you therefore utilize all the small shoulder stabilizers, so the argument goes. BUT… a fixed weight hex head dumbbell also has two forces, one left of your hand and one right, its more of a lever than a rotation, but its something your hand and arm also have to fight as it were. IF anything, that rotational force can tear the crap out of your shoulder if you aren’t PERFECT in your form, like the above Mr. Logan stated. Who is THAT good, EVERY TIME?”

Never said the Kettlebell was Perfect. And I don’t like the fact that the Kettlebells sell for $2 a pound. It’s outrageous. But when you point to that arguement, blame the businessmen.

Sev

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Mark February 10, 2010 at 2:16 am

I’ll just put my own 2 cents in here and say that kettlebells are FAR inferior to dumbbells.

I use dumbbells for bodybuilding at home, and then in the spring, I also use them for cardio to burn off the winter flab.

I take the plates from them an insert them in an adjustable weight vest, and go do dips and pullups off my back deck.

Each dumbell has 47.5 kg (100+lbs)worth of plates on them fully loaded and I can do snatches, swings , cleans and any other kettlebell exercise as well, including those rebel row thingies and what have you.

Where do I keep them and the vest? in a 1, 1/2 sq ft corner of my closet.

Kettlebells, in my opinion, are for those who can’t think for themselves, easily fall for marketing hype or are just plain exercise poseurs.

The smart man uses dumbbells.

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Sev April 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm

The last comment isn’t true because I didn’t see the kettlebell on TV until I looked it up. I saw it in a gym, wondered what the heck it was, used it, fell in love, then went out bought one and now I use it. It has nothing to do with the marketing aspect of it. I tend to ignore those guys anyway. Hell I don’t even watch TV

The smart man uses dumbbells
The smart and focused man uses a kettlebell

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Sarah February 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

The experts agree that kettlebells are superior to dumbbells for some of the claims that you are trying to refute. Let your readers decide if they would want to take advice from someone who won’t post their qualifications on their own site or from a Ph.D who runs a human performance lab at a major university…
http://www.ironcorekettlebells.com/lib/images/acekettlebells012010.pdf

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Zack February 11, 2010 at 2:36 am

Sarah posts more kettlebell drivel. Of course you can work out with them. That’s not an issue. You can get a great workout lifting a sandbag, chopping wood, running hills or doing pushups. But compared to all the advantages that dumbbells offer, Kettlebells suck. I agree with Thomas, Willie, John and Mark, and the others who go along with this blog’s main point. Kettlebells are for wannabe poseurs, buying into the grand marketing schemes of a few get-rich-quick scam artists.

Funny how Sarah’s link is related to a kettlebell company. Duh, go figure! lol

Myself, I do cardio weights with dumbbells and get ripped to shreds. I don’t need any “pseudo-scientific” studies to tell me dumbbells work. They’ve proved their metal for far longer than the kettlebell fad. You can get both huge and ripped with dumbbells, and without killing your joints, like with kettlebells.

And kettlebells are a fad, no mistake. You can tell by the number of people who get their back up when somebody tells the truth about how kettlebells suck. Kettlebells suck, and so do their hypemeister fanboys.

Kettlebells suck.

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Thomas February 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Most kettlebell zealots believe their exercises are somehow special or unique. But what they fail to realize is: signature kettlebell moves are nothing more than assistance lifts that have been in use forever by Olympic-style weightlifters. Unfortunately, the kettlebell variants are modified — bastardized really — from the original barbell and dumbbell lifts. And they are far less useful and far more dangerous.

What do you do if you don’t have access to kettlebells or dumbbells? Watch this video from Max at YouTube:

And watch this one:

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Erik February 15, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I wonder how many people over the years have “broken” just about everything in the body using just about any tool, including bodyweight stuff (gymnasts for instance). Why was this article ever written. It’s like hey, don’t you know that brown-eyed people are superior to the blue-eyed freaks! Makes about the same amount of sense. Strange as well that so many informed chiropractors, physical therapists, and osteopaths are giving the green light for the ‘bells. Yes, there are NFL players using kettlebells. Go to Art of Strength and see Anthony Diluglio and the Tennessee Titans do some work. Did you also know that the number one job of a strength and conditioning coach at such an elite level is to…get ready…keep the players on the field (that means INJURY PREVENTION). Why would Gray Cook, a noted PT and founder of the Functional Movement Screen (used by many pro sports teams to reduce injury rates) be such a huge proponent of kettlebells? Guys, use what feels good to you and what delivers results that match your goals. In the end it’s all good and all tools can be used wisely or foolishly. Kettlebells aren’t magical but they are damned fun to work with. If bodybuilding is not your goal, but short and effective workouts and strength-endurance are high on your list. NOT A FAD, just a fun and playful tool. IF it ain’t fun, DON’T DO IT!

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zack February 20, 2010 at 6:59 am

Uh, Erik I think it was written exactly because a lot of k-bell fanboys out there believe, and are themselves trying to brainwash everyone into thinking they are “magical.” The irony, and one of the points of this article, is that dumbbells, which have been around for much longer, are equal, and in many respects superior to what one can achieve with k-bells. This is not so much pumping up dumbbells, but taking k-bells down a deserved notch or two. If you can’t appreciate the validity of this argument, maybe you too have drunk the proverbial coolaid.

There is such a lack of counterpoint on k-bells, and so much over-hype, it really is like a cult.

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james April 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm

interesting opinions, but only opinions. Like some smart guys on here said any tool can cause an injury. I have used them for years and it has helped alleviated me from connective tissue problems, and back pain. and has made me well stronger. All it is is different from the normal gym type exercises that have been hyped up far more and for far longer than kettlebells.
over time i reckon dumbells and gyms have notched up far more injuries than KB’s, and thrown a whole heap more marketing madness at us all. If you don’t like Kettlebells then quit your whining and go back to the gym. Kettlebells are probably more overly trashed because there is less money to be made than a costly gym membership. The Russians have used these for years and years, and what sort of reputation do they have, solid.. If you are reading this and getting confused about whether you should use them, then give them a try anyway and see if they are right for you, if not, try something else. But any exercise should be backed up with a good diet to strengthen your body and a careful and balance attitude.
kettlebells aren’t the problem, over training, over expectations and over marketing probably is. There is always going to be someone with a loud opinion to moan on about something. There are far more positive articles on the net, a conspiracy, no i don’t think so.
make your own mind up.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm

James, opinions are not ‘only’ opinions. They’re either right, or wrong, or subjective and lacking either status.

You have fallacious arguments here. ‘Any tool can cause injury’ for example, is obvious. I might as well not argue the effectiveness of weapons because any weapon can kill, or argue the deadly side effects of different medical treatments because all drugs have side effects?

Even if DBs had notched up more injuries, that would simply be due to their predominant status. More normal people have stolen things, that doesn’t mean the average person is more likely to steal than a kleptomaniac simply because they’re a minority of the populace.

There being more positive articles is irrelevant. What matters is the quality of arguments. Especially since people get paid to write favourable articles about things like kettlebells.

As far as marketing madness, I doubt we see that for dumbbells. They’re so common now that there’s no point or profit in flaunting unrealistic claims about them. That’s the thing you’d see in the 30s or whenever it was they started being mass-produced.

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james April 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

oh, and i will say this, i also injured myself with a kettlebell, i did my back in proper style. but in hindsight it was my fault. the kettlebell didn’t do it, i was an idiot. i lifted it badly. If i blame my kettlebell i should also blame my car for the wreck i had, my mountain bike for ”bucking” me off, that rock i bashed the other day on the beach, my bed for breaking my stubbed toe, and that climbing wall for maliciously skinning my shin. etc etc the list goes on. it was my fault. when will people actually take some responsibility for their actions eh.

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John Logan April 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm

James, I would not have bothered to post here, or “whine here” to use your language, if all I got was a little tweak in my back. It would strengthen your case if you were not simply quoting the brainwashing advice from the kettlebell books which have chapters saying “it’s your fault, you’re an idiot” if anyone goes there to seriously look up any injuries. Of course you’re correct that the kettlebell is inert. But the people who are not taking responsibility for their actions are not the poor suckers like me who end up in hospital after trusting the poor advice in the kettlkebell books/DVDs/forums. No, the people who need to actually take some responsibility for their actions now are the “idiots” to use your jargon…the idiots who recommend the 24 kg high rep snatch as a safe exercise. These are the same idiots who endorse the overhead juggling of 32 kg kettlebells (evidence linked to in my earlier posts above).
It is not just a freak coincidence that the only injury I received in 25 years of training was while honestly and carefully (and while on a very good diet mate!) following the advice on snatching in those poorly poorly researched kettlebell pamphlets that pass as books. Now, I am not blaming the inert metal ball with a handle for leaving my previously very strong left arm with a steel plate and 6 screws buried so deep inside it now that I can’t find a doctor willing to operate and remove all that gear yet. But I am not agreeing that I am the “idiot whose fault it is” either. I would never have thought of the stupid idea, by myself, of picking up a kettlebell and snatching it overhead repeatedly at speed…not a 24kg bell. That idea had to come to me from books/videos etc. The idea got past my radar man, slipped under my defences. Next thing I’d been conned successfully into thinking, hey, everyone’s doing it, it must be safe. So I snatched once a week, every week for 6 months. Sets of 8, smooth and easy, none of the signs of bad form such as bruises and pain in the forearm, which is all those lousily written kettlebell books mention as signs of bad form. I had fun for 6 months doing that. Then one day with no warning the bell just went through my arm. How was I to know that could happen, after 6 months of following the instructions and everything going great? There is no way I could have known. There was no warning on the forums, in the books or DVDs, that such an injury was possible. The authors of these instuctional materials have written to me since, saying THEY had never heard of such an injury, THEY did not know it could happen, THEY did not foresee it, ok man?. So who is the idiot? Me for trusting that the book I read telling me how to snatch, and it’s account of the “risk benefits” to quote a very good post by Ben Reynolds further up-page, was well researched? Or is it the fault of the idiot who wrote the kettlebell book that makes people think such a stupid unnecessary exercise is safe with a 24kg bell? The same kettlebell-book-writing idiot who endorses a website that teaches overhead juggling with the 32kg kettlebell (not that a 16 kg in the head wouldn’t be enough to brain damage someone). So when the next arm is broken, or the first head is cracked, you will be singing your wee song James, as you “whine” on, quoting your gurus, yelping that these injured guys are the “idiots” who “won’t take responsibility”. Meanwhile, the shysters who hype and market these stupid exercises will be off counting their cash, because they’ve brainwashed guys like you into thinking that ALL the responsibility is on the side of the trainer who falls for the bad advice…but of course NONE of the responsibility is on the side of the author who gives the bad advice that gets people injured. In 25 years training….the ONLY bad advice and the only injury came when I foolishly and sadly trusted the information in those kettlebell books. That’s not an “opinion” James, that’s experience talking, unfortunately. Eh?

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MST SGT BRENNEN May 27, 2010 at 10:30 pm

You said… “one day I went to do a set and the bell broke my arm…at speed I lost control of it for a fraction of a second.”
^^^^^^^

You lost focus, you lost control, period. Just like when lifting any weight, you must stay focused 100% any time the weight is not at rest. In my job, if you lose focus, you will die. You failed, sir.

Don’t blame the tool son, blame the body.

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Thomas May 27, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Of course, you’re using condescension to make a point, but your point is incorrect.

Snatching a heavy kettlebell is not “just like…any weight“. As Olympic lifters learned a century ago, there’s a big difference between lifting a weight under control (“focus”) to develop max strength, and lifting it explosively to develop athleticism.

Early weight lifters abandoned fixed barbells (after many, many people broke their arms during the power clean and the snatch) in favor of Olympic-style barbells with rotating sleeves just as they abandoned kettlebells because of the danger, and because there were better alternatives.

The “tool” is inferior. There’s no reason to use a kettlebell — even for a kettlebell-style workout — if you have dumbbells. And there are plenty of reasons to avoid kettlebells.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm

James: does that mean I shouldn’t blame a car that lacks breaks?

After all, we don’t REALLY need breaks. Even if they do keep us safe from ballistic speeds, we could simply choose to stop accelerating at the right time and coast to a stop.

The dumbbell is the car with breaks, it’s safer to snatch with. Why shouldn’t we blame the kettlebell for being inherently more dangerous with that movement?

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jason jaman April 15, 2010 at 9:26 am

Its time to realize now that most kbell manufactures design old stubby short handled kbells that we call “wrist wreckers” ..here is a few examples,york,canadian kettlebells and ziva all make 8-24kg wrist wreckers..Lucky for me my supplier got me the Tds long handles kbells..my 10 yr old son, my wife myself and judo clients here at my boot camp will choose these ones everytime over the stubbies…Steve maxwell has a line with longer handles as well…
this is the way to go people in conjunction with dumbells and ropes and rings boxes and sprint routines..Kettlebells are just one element to strength and fitnesss…not the holy grail alone..
Also I find once you get to 24 kg and up the stubby style is way less of a wrist problem however newer people to the sport wont find that out as they tend to quit after experiencing the hell of the stubby ..a 12 kg-16kg stubby is pure hell on the wrist’s-pretty much a torture devise at any skill level..the long handled 12-20kg range is quite the opposite..Not all kbells are created equal and therefore a value judgment needs to include this variable..

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John Logan April 19, 2010 at 2:58 am

No, Jason.
Your post is just going to mislead people.
I used a “stubby” short-handled 16kg bell once, and I experienced that “hell on the wrist” you talked about.
It’s a real phenomenon, but of minor importance.
So I then used a long-handled bell (as long as they get, same dimensions as DD’s bells, I got mine from London Kettlebells and they told me the dimendsions were exactly the same)…long-handled 24kg bell. Snatched with it every week for 6 months, sets of 8, it was nothing but fun, no warnings of bad form like forearm pain or bruising from bad form…no, every week for 6 months I snatched that thing, sets of 8.
LONG-HANDLED BELL.
But then one day I did a snatch like usual, and the bell broke my forearm (see above posts by myself).
So, it is time for you to realize Jason, particularly if you’re taking on the responsibility of teaching this stuff to other people in bootcamps, that a short-handled bell may leave people with a sore wrist…but the long-handled 24kg bell you are RECOMMENDING to people can BREAK their forearm.
It is the radius bone that breaks, about one-third of the way up the forearm, when you use a long-handled bell and it goes wrong. And it usually takes surgery and metal plates, screws etc, in the arm to repair that damage (repair it to a degree, the arm will never be the same again, believe me).
There’s an orthopaedic surgeon, J P Driver-Jowitt, who has a website and is happy to answer emails: he will confirm for you that the radius bone is in a very vulnerable position at the top lock-out phase of a kettlebell snatch, when you use the LONG HANDLED bell. .
It’s amazing that you are putting yourself in the position of adviser and teacher, regarding equipment you do not understand the inherent dangers of.
Amazing…but absolutely normal nowadays…most kettlebell “instructors” are just as ignorant, just repeating what they have been taught, spreading the misinformation around (and often charging a fee to do so!)

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Colt Chaffin April 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Mr. Logan, I think it is commendable of you to come back repeatedly to either further clarify your statements or offer a rebuttal to an argument that has been proposed. I have taken your experience into consideration with my progress with kettlebells. I also completely agree with you, kettlebell juggling is stupid and completely dangerous if you are not a professional or have one watching you like a hawk. Even then you’re sitting there crossing your fingers that something doesn’t go wrong.

I want to come out and say I was “suckered” in by the kettlebell propaganda machine. I researched into it and thought “yeah, that looks interesting I’ll try it.” I do have an Olympic barbell and weights (I think it’s a 300lb set) as well as two standard weight sets that came w/ dumbbell handles. I used these for a while, but I didn’t find enjoyment from this type of exercise. Whether that was surroundings (my basement) or lack of a training partner (unsafe, I know) it just didn’t seem to be fun. I made some gains, but I stopped just because of the sheer boredom. When I heard about this whole kettlebell thing I was intrigued.

The main difference I could find on the internet that really locked it in for me to try was how it was sold. A full body, cardio and strength workout. Now I completely understand that a well designed traditional strength program can provide these same benefits, I still thought that I would give it a try. Like Mr. Logan I do not have access to an RKC, AKC, IKFF, etc. trainer and I’ve learned completely off of youtube and books. I’ve only been going at the kettlebell for maybe 3 weeks, none of which have been serious yet but hoping that will change once my real kettlebell arrives. Up to this point I am happy, the workout that I am getting to me seems like it will be beneficial, especially once I graduate past swings and figure 8s. The important thing is that I enjoy the kettlebell and am actually using it to work out with, so in that regards I’m more than pleased.

I have performed the apparently controversial snatch, and I can see how a heavy kettlebell such as the 24kg in question could break the arm, with or without proper form. I only use the equivalent to 16kg right now and I know I do not have proper form so I am not going to even attempt the exercise again until I meet some personal criteria in terms of swinging time as well as cleans and presses.

I do appreciate the author making comparisons between the two as sometimes if you are jumping headfirst into something a critical look is helpful with decisions. Your opinions of the kettlebell are obvious, but they seem directed at the kettlebell cult more so than the strengths/weaknesses of the kettlebell itself. No they aren’t a perfect tool, but neither is the dumbbell, barbell, pull-up bar, leg press, etc. and that is why a good strength training program incorporates a number of different machines and tools, the kettlebell is just another tool that can be added to this array of perfectly acceptable tools.

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Adam April 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Opinions. You have to love them.

Man gets “hurt from kettlebell”. Man get’s “hurt from improper form during benchpress as well”.

Nobody argues that here in the states the true test of lifting , comes down to three lifts. The bench press. The deadlift. The squat. Note, not a single one of these lift’s is performed with a kettlebell. Reason why? I have never met a man who can bench press a 500lb kettlebell, or do any other the other lifts with them either. Reason why? Your comparing apples and oranges. If you hate kettlebells, don’t use them, but to say the don’t build strength, is just utterly stupid. I can use my fitness level as a platform to negate anything I dislike, and people might listen to me as well. I don’t know the author, as for myself, I am a Power Lifter. I am 6’5 and weigh 270lbs. I am now and always will be drug free. I do compete as an amateur athlete. I’m also 35 years old. I’ve been using kettlebells before there was a craze for them here in the states. I first started using them in th U.S.Army, 17 years ago. So, to say why don’t soldiers use them, I’m taking it the author has never been a soldier.

The truth is, use what works for you. Yes dumbbells, and barbells do wonders, duh! No one disputes that, but to say kettlebells don’t, based on what?

I bench 400 lbs, true a kettlebell will not help me improve my benching form, but it will help increase strength throughout my body. Which in turn, helps me lift more. Working out with barbells and dumbells usually work 1 muscle group, or a small secondary group. Bench, works pecs the most, with triceps secondary. Kettlebells do require more muscle groups when performing proper lifts, and throws. Science backs that, I don’t need a website to show you otherwise.

Both are great tools to build muscle. It all boils down to preferance. I use both, as well. I have to. The norm will always be what everyone else does. So yes, in your opinion Kettlebells are inferior to Dumbbells. I’ll stake all that i am against the author of this, that i lift more than you. I use Kettlebells to help gain size, again that holds just as much scientific merit, as dumbbells for size. As a cardio tool they are awesome. Not all people can run for cardio. Use what works for you. You can tell me where to go and how to get there. It won’t change the fact, that you really need to put up, or shut up.

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Thomas April 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Hi Adam. You wrote:

Opinions. You have to love them.

When I read a snide, unthinking statement like this, it makes me think that you don’t understand the difference between an opinion, and a judgement call based on the facts.

Allow me to enlighten you:

An opinion is the answer to a question which has no possible wrong answer.

For example, if I ask you ‘what is your favorite color’, I am asking you for your opinion. I can’t then turn around and argue with you and claim that you are incorrect. After all, all opinions are equally valid.

A judgement, on the other hand, can be correct or incorrect, and it’s dependent on the facts one uses to reach it.

For example, if I ask you what color car I should get, i am asking you to make a judgement. This is not an opinion, because the best color to paint a car varies depending on the climate, the cost, and several other factors. A resident of Las Vegas would be a fool to buy a black car, but someone in the Yukon might very well prefer a black car.

So now, perhaps you can understand why your argument (such as it is) fails. You can’t try to influence a discussion of the facts by claiming that all the facts therein are nothing more than meaningless opinion. …Unless you want to obviate your own contribution, of course.

The fact is: for various reasons I listed earlier, kettlebells are vastly inferior to dumbbells for skinny guys who want to add muscle mass.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm

” If you hate kettlebells, don’t use them, but to say the don’t build strength, is just utterly stupid.”

Adam, would like to point out, I don’t believe Thomas ever said KBs don’t build strength, just that he views them as an inferior tool to do so compared to dumbbells. So what you just did is called a straw man argument.

“Kettlebells do require more muscle groups when performing proper lifts, and throws. Science backs that, I don’t need a website to show you otherwise.”

Science backing something is useless in arguments unless you can convey proof of that science to people. Websites are one means of conveying scientific information.

You may be right about throws, but I do not believe this applies to all lifts. I believe stabilizing a kettlebell during presses is easier, for example, since it rests against the forearm, so pressing a kettlebell should require less muscular coordination and skill compared to stabilizing a dumbbell, which would be more challenging for the wrists.

Conversely, the energy expended stabilizing a lighter kettlebell might be better spent stabilizing a heavier dumbbell.

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Adam April 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for clarifying that for me. I didn’t know everything you posted was factual. I didn’t see any references for how you came to your conclusions. I will go back and look again. My remarks are no more snide than your apparent attempt to dumb me down. C’mon an not an idiot.

I too was once thin, a skinny guy, so I offer a different view of how to gain mass. Obviously there is more than 1 way to accomplish that. For you to say no there isn’t, then seriously whose the fool?

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Adam April 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm

P.s.

The opinion I was refering to was the man getting hurt from using a kettlebell. To say he was hurt indeed was factual, to say everything he did up to and icluding the injury was all because of a kettlebell is opinion. The same thing would happen if a person using improper form was to lift a heavy dumbbell. people get hurt doing things, and lifting things that are above and beyond them. I wouldn’t attempt to lift a 225lb Kettlebell, although I’ve seen it done by a man smaller than I.

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John Logan April 27, 2010 at 9:41 pm

This has been covered completely already (see above, Adam)
It’s your opinion I was using improper form, but what do you base that opinion on?
How would I have been able to do a snatch workout every week for 6 months, with no forearm pain, and no forearm bruising, completely enjoying the workouts, if my form was improper?
How would I have been able to do workouts where I was doing 2 sets of 8 reps per arm, snatching the 24kg bell, if my form was improper?
Look to your own casually held opinions, Adam.
Read the comments above (your weight and height and how much you can lift has no relevance when it comes to whether you are RIGHT or not, which is the only issue at stake when you write your comment and hit the SUBMIT button.
Let me help you: one post up-page (not a post by myself) observes that, no matter how good one’s form, given the speed and weight involved in the snatch, plus the fatigue level where for instance a goal of 200 snatches in 10 minutes is pursued as per the kb manual…plus plain human fallibility…an ACCIDENT can happen…even with good form…AND THAT NOT EVERYONE IS WILLING TO PUT THEMSELVES IN THE WAY OF SUCH AN UNNECESSARY LEVEL OF RISK.
Again and again this point is made in posts up-page, by people other than myself…it is just not going into your head when you read what they are saying obviously.
“I have performed the apparently controversial snatch, and I can see how a heavy kettlebell such as the 24kg in question could break the arm, with or without proper form.”

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John Logan April 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm

(that last was quoted from Colt Chaffin’s post)
Finally Adam, you are implying (you have a sneaky way of not coming right out and stating yout “opinions” actually…they sort of come out of you sideways and a person could almost miss them) not only that my form was improper, but that lifting the 24kg was above and beyond me…
Again, what do you base that on?
I would never have had a happy 6 month period of snatching every week, with no pain, or injury, or bruising…I.e. NO SIGN OF WHAT WAS TO COME…if my form was “improper”, would I?
How could lifting the 24kg bell have been “above and beyond” me if I could clean and press it for sets of 6…snatch it for sets of 8…week after week after week…for several months, in total comfort?
What you are expressing here is far worse than “opinions. You have to love them”…….you are expressing “assumptions. YOU HAVE TO JUSTIFY THEM”.
Anything less is just sloppy Adam.
Be careful what you say next Adam, or it’s going to be absolutely plain to people reading this page later that you are not as much in command of the facts (never mind the opinions”) as you believe you are.
And by the way Adam, I have a name.
If you’re going to refer to me at all (I’d rather you didn’t, but you already have) use the name.
“the man” is a bit too generic for me to put up with, at the same time as the casual assumptions which you seem to think you have the right to launch my way.
So, justify your opinions Adam, or, where they concern myself, shut up about them.

“Opinions. You have to love them.

Man gets “hurt from kettlebell”. Man get’s “hurt from improper form during benchpress as well”.

You’ve now (belatedly) made it clear these comments applied only to myself.
My response?
Your comment is adequately dealt with and neutralised by several posters up-page whose entries you have obviously not bothered reading, or else you cannot understand what they said.
I bench-pressed for years. In the 80s, I taught dozens and dozens of people how to bench press. I was never injured. They were never injured.
I’ve trained for 25 years now.
Only one injury in all that time. From the 24kg kettlebell snatch.
That is the only point I’m here to make.
Read up-page.
Some people have been receptive to that point.
Anyway, I’m wasting time here…I can’t start smashing apart your position/stance/argument until you get back to me and tell me how you KNOW my form was improper, and how you KNOW I was lifting what was above and beyond me.
Otherwise, don’t mention me again here, whether as “the man” “he” or anything else.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm

John, I think the simplest counter to Adam’s “bad form, this could happen with lifting dumbbells improperly too” pseudo-point is observing this:

Your forearm was broken by over-rotation during a snatch.

An injury of this nature simply can’t happen with a dumbbell. If you snatch a dumbbell explosively and hang on, it simply carries the arm up and back, meaning less work for the shoulder.

Kettlebells don’t do that, they rotate and begin to fall, even when you do apply upward force with the delts to try and keep it going.

So his point is moot, your injury couldn’t have happened with a dumb/bar, only with a kettle, and that’s why it’s inherently associated with it.

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Adam April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Thomas,

Thanks for the reply. Look, I use this website, becasue I like the content of it. I don’t have to agree with everything listed herein, but I do respect the authors writings.

Adam

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John Logan April 27, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Adam,
Now, look up-page and you’ll find I’ve left you some replies.
I’ll add one more.
It is sort of predictable that you may go for the easy “oh, DUDE, your form like uhh must have been real bad man…it musta sucked…cos..uh…like..you know you broke your ARM DUDE! uh-huh huh”
Ok, rather than wait for you to come back with that one, I’ll hit it out of the park right now:
a) If I had broken the arm on the first day, or first week, or first month, then this argument would work. But for me to snatch happily every week with the 24kg, for 6 months, for sets of up to 8 reps, with no pain, no forearm bruising, an arm feeling GREAT…for me to be able to do that FOR SIX MONTHS EVERY FXXXIN WEEK…my form must have been pretty good.
b) There is no comparison, like you attempted to make, between the ballistic kettlebell snatch and the relatively slow and controlled bench press. The kettlebell snatch done with 24kg (as posters have said above) is a dangerous movement, even with good form…the danger is blunt trauma due to a moment of bad timing (which posters above have said can happen to anyone, no matter how good their form)…but I know you think you know better than them Adam…you have already implied that my injury was caused by improper form and me attempting what was “above and beyond” me.
c) In fact, what you are trying to do Adam, in a sort of sneaky indirect way, is make people believe that ONLY improper form and someone trying to punch above their weight can lead to a broken forearm from the 24kg kettlebell snatch. Even though several other posters above are acknowledging that NO-ONE can be sure of every rep being in perfect form every time…speed and momentum and timing don’t work that way…and it only takes ONE bad rep to absolutely ruin a forearm. You see, I believe people have the right to know this…that kettlebell snatches with 24 kg in people with good form CAN break your forearm IN A MOMENT OF ERROR. Some posters up=page obviously accept this. Some others, like you, obviously do not. The problem is, the kettlebell “community” have no real interest in warning people that the heavy snatch holds this unique danger, and it is unique. That is, the kettlebell snatch has a unique blend of speed, momentum, and potential for blunt trauma. The bench press does not have this. It is a relatively controlled movement, if you can do sets of 8 bench presses, week after week, month after month, in good enough form to get you by in comfort like I was doing with snatches…the bench press is not going to suddenly turn on you some-day and put you in hospital. Not unless you greatly increase the weight…which I did not do with my kettlebell….the weight that broke my arm was the same weight I’d pressed for 9 months by then…snatched for 6 months by then.
d) “To say he was hurt indeed was factual, to say everything he did up to and icluding the injury was all because of a kettlebell is opinion. The same thing would happen if a person using improper form was to lift a heavy dumbbell. people get hurt doing things, and lifting things that are above and beyond them. I wouldn’t attempt to lift a 225lb Kettlebell, although I’ve seen it done by a man smaller than I.”

As I have said, the kettlebell is inert. I am blaming the rotten and woefully inadequate kettlebell dvds/books (pamphlets) which I was dumb enough to trust…they made the snatch seem safe indeed. As I have said above, the “world kettlebell experts” said they themselves had NOT anticipated such an injury being possible…though some famous kb names you would recognise did write to me since and say they believed that there were many unreported injuries from kettlebells. These experts then tend to blame this on the faults of their rivals’ systems…rather than the kettlebell itself…or more specifically the 24kg kettlebell snatch…
Improper form…can’t be that…it was the same weight kettlebell I used for 9 months of training, so your analogy of suddenly trying a very heavy dumbbell and getting hurt is not applicable here…I was not hurt until the 9th month of training with the 24 kg bell, training that had only been enjoyable and successful up to that moment. That’s the definition of good form…as good as one can get…9 months of no-problem training…and it is my contention, all along it has been my only point, that in my 25 years of training, I never came across another excercise that could seem safe, seem mastered, and be fun….for 6 months of weekly workouts in the case of the snatch…but then suddenly turn on you like a snake.
But that’s what speed, weight and momentum, and repeated encounters with it, can leave you open to…
Read up=page Adam, and you’ll see some posters have decided its a stupid and unnecessary level of risk that they do not want to put themselves in line for.
That was very much the opinion too of the doctors and physiotherapists who tried to reconstruct my arm.
That’s why it’s so important that I don’t let you, or a few other people who tried earlier, fling this mud at me in an attempt to characterise me as “the guy” who had lousy form and judgement and hurt himself.
It’s not that simple (even if guys like you, and those kettlebell “gurus”, want to try to make out that it is, for some reason).
The gurus love to blame any injured “disciples”, training them to accept that if they are hurt “it’s their fault, not the teacher’s!”…….phewwww…..that trick must have worked well over the years to keep some bad teachers in business.
It’s obviously insane reasoning.
Sanity would lie in understanding that sometimes it will be the student’s fault ( as you are sure is the case with me, and you have stated so, and now you must account for how you know this?)…but that sometimes it will be the teaching that is faulty….and, of course, often it will be a bit of both.
I know there will be more injuries, because I know how fast and easily that bell went through my bone.
So I;m going to continue to put this warning out, no matter how many “snide, unthinking statements” I get from guys like you…but next time you throw out the B.S. ADDRESS it to me.
That’s what I mean about you being sneaky, the way you put things. You don’t think you’;re a sneaky guy? You want evidence? How about this? You were so sneaky in the way you flung the mud this time boy, Mr Urville WAS CONVINCED YOU HAD DIRECTED YOUR B.S. AT HIM!
It was B.S. you were shooting at my head, but you gave it that sneaky curve throw…putting so much spin on it no-one here could even tell who you’d aimed at.
Not even I was sure, until you confessed you’d been aiming at “the man getting hurt from using a kettlebell”…then I knew you meant me!

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Dale October 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I think you’re trying to have it both ways. In one part of your article, you say that kettlebell exercises are nothing more that reheated Olympic lifts, and in another part you blame kettlebell promotors for minimizing the risks of those lifts. You can’t credibly argue that you didn’t know Olympic style lifts were potentially dangerous. Common sense tells us that snatching a heavy weight over your head requires a great deal of strength, mental focus, coordination, and split-second timing to insure good form and prevent injury. Don’t blame kettlebell promotors for understating the obvious.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I think his point was that kettlebell snatches have additional risks which the dumbbell/barbell versions of the snatch do not (namely, the rotation part and forearm smash, which is absent in these)

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Adam April 28, 2010 at 2:13 am

John Logan,

The comment about the “opinion” was indeed adressed to you. The article before was not. I stand corrected.

As far as throwing B.S. out there, I get it, you don’t like kettlebells either. A person looking to gain mass, a skinny person looking to gain mass, will seek any, and all ways to do so. Maybe we can all agree that training with weights, no matter what kind they might be, is only part of the solution. Nutrition, and rest being other factors. Everyone who is against kettlebells seems to despise them so much, atleast here on this forum they do. Doesn’t mean that everyone reading this will believe what I say, nor what was written. Hopefully they will read up and do what best suits them. Mr. Urville’s assesment on me was hey you don’t know fact from opinion. This website states what is written is opinion. Go to the main page and see for yourself. I never said i’m right your wrong. To anyone. I was making a point that bad form can cause an injury. Fine it didn’t for John Logan. But, it does happen. So take what i say with a grain of salt, apparently you will regardless of what i have to say. I’m sorry John Logan for hurting your feelings, I truly am. I was wrong to single out your injury. I train with kettlebells and I like them. I was once a skinny guy looking to get big, and kettlebells helped me get there. I never snapped my arm using them. I have seen terrible students get hurt bad for doing too much. I’m going off that. A person who repeats their workout time and time again, even with a small weight, can still get hurt very bad with improper form. If you think that’s BS, that’s your OPINION.

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Adam April 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm

John, and Thomas,

After rereading what was posted by the two of you, I made a bad judgement call. It wasn’t John’s fault for getting hurt, nor do I think you were whining about your injury as another person had stated. I like kettlebells, and hopefully will never recieve an injury like john’s. I’m not trying to start a war with the two of you, and I admit your information posted is legit.
For people reading this, hey everyone is partial to something, I like what i like. I tossed my opinions out without getting the full story, I was blinded by my own arrogance. I am not a kettlebell guru, and I agree with John, the pamphlets are crap. I had an instructor, that’s how i learned. The information available dvd’s half assed books are a dime a dozen for training with kettlebells. People will find that’s the case for training with a lot of things. There are many mediums in which a person can work with to achieve there results, and there will always be debates as well. I got in over my head on this one, and stand corrected. This article offers a lot of great advice. To those I offended, I apologize.

Adam

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Thomas April 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Thanks for the kind words Adam.

This article attracts a ton of hate mail and ultra-rude replies from kettlebell people. And most of those people play the opinion card. I delete the replies if they’re too crazy, but I’m happy to have people post good counter-arguments here (if for no other reason that it helps this article rise in the search-engine rankings).

I think the only way I could get more angry replies is if we published an article linking squatting to knee injury or something. :)

Maybe you’ll be surprised to hear that I own a kettlebell website (which promotes adjustable bells), and I don’t want to be the poster boy for anti-kettlebell sentiment.

Nevertheless, I still think snatches, clean-and-press, and even swings are better with a good adjustable dumbbell. A lot of people think bodybuilding-style exercises are the only ones that work with dumbbells, but they just haven’t been exposed to other training methods.

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Adam April 29, 2010 at 1:20 am

Thomas,

Actually I’m not suprised that you own a website like that. I have read your E-zine articles elsewhere, and I’m aware your a boxing writer as well.

I wasn’t going to go toe to toe with you on the fact versus fiction. I know you know what your talking about, i didn’t see mindless jargon in the article. I do think as a power lifter that many people myself included look for all ways to build strength. Like I said before I was tall and skinny until i joined the Military. Being that body type, I always saw mass come so much more quickly for those who were shorter, and I looked to every means I could to reach my results. I use cast iron kettlebells, for the same reason i use cast iron dumbbells. I like the fixed weight. For the kettlebells I use 16, and 32kg. For the dumbbells I have from 10 lbs to 100 lbs in 5lb increments. For the lifting i do, it’s necessary for me. Adjustable dumbbells to me were just too time consuming. I realize there are lifts that shouldn’t be performed with kettlebells. I use mine for one arm snatches, and clean and jerks, once a week. I was using John Logans injury not to mock him, although I think that’s what I indeed did, but to say people can get hurt in lifting. I realize his injury must have been horrible. I wanted to make that clear, I wasn’t attacking his knowledge, and I didn’t mean to attack him directly.

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Peter April 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I remember seeing KBs as a kid during my first trips to the gym–they usually sat in the corner collecting dust while 99.999% of the trainees did dips, chins, deadlifts and a variety of other barbell and dumbell exercises. Weight lifting kits from Weider and Laurie in the 60s, 70s and 80s included adjustable KB handles which no one used. (Find an old copy of Weider’s “Muscle Builder and Power” if you want proof.) I know I bought a used weight set at 13 and the KB handle was virtually brand new.

KBs were briefly regarded as a Russian secret weapon in the late 70s/early 80s when Vasili Alexeyev was seen in a photo using a KB. That lasted only a short time.

In the military, there were a few base gyms that had KBs but we never used them. When going through team qualification, we ran, did pushups, chins, situps and the instructors encouraged us to do some presses with weights along with ruck work.

Fast forward 18 – 20 years later and KBs began making a “comeback”. This is revival was started primarily by Pavel Tsatsouline, the same individual whose first book declared the only weights needed are a simple Olympic barbell set. Check out _Power to the People_.

According to a friend who was in the UK’s SBS (Special Boat Service), KBs were allegedly banned years ago by the British military because of the risk of injury.

If you’re able to use KBs injury free, I congratulate you. But, the truth is the Dragon Door forum is constantly filled with questions about injuries. Unfortunately, it is going to be 10 – 15 years before their efforts catch up with them and by then, it will be too late.

A friend who is 68 yrs young shared his secret to training with me: pushups, chins, planks and crunches, BW squats three – four times per week combined with walking & 20 – 30 minutes on a speed or heavy bag daily. He also became a near vegan, eating egg whites and fish three times per week. KBs? He remembered them from the “old days” and said even the legendary strongmen only used them for posing (they were empty “bells”) or partially loaded for shows. These strongmen learned of the injury issues associated with KBs early on.

As Dr. Doug McGuff, MD, recently wrote on his website with KBs it isn’t if but when an injury is going to happen when it comes to this exercise tool.

Safe training to everyone no matter what their choice.

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Tyciol February 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

http://www.bodybyscience.net/home.html/index.php?s=kettlebell&submit=Search

Peter I did a search on the site he shares with John Little and there’s no mention of kettlebells. Could you please share the URL of where he says this?

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Peter April 29, 2010 at 10:46 am

Excellent reading on the subject:

http://ejmas.com/pt/ptart_brennan_0103.htm

The author of the article, Ray Brennan, actually received numerous emails with threats and other vicious comments–so many, he chose to completely drop off the Internet and only correspond with a handful of select friends. Sad comment regarding the mindset on the ‘net these days along with the need to go that far to defend a silly exercise product.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Peter did Ray ever post examples of these threats? That’s kinda scary. I mean I’d expect that type of things from vegan/vegetarian propogandists since they think that promoting their diet saves lives, but this?

Is this to defend the livelihood of kettlebell salesmen? What else could prompt such hatred?

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Adam April 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Peter, thanks for the link.

I like that the author makes a valid point and does say that kettlebells are not utter crap and when used in conjunction with other weights can be beneficial. I agree 100% about the point of injury.

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Sev May 1, 2010 at 8:13 am

Can we all just agree that some people want to use kettlebells for whatever reason and others want to use dumbbells. I will always prefer the kettlebell as my preference.

Logan, I am sorry to hear about your injury. Stuff like that happens and I’m not happy with the fact that some of these kettlebell websites don’t post the fact that there can be injuries. But here’s one thing to consider, why would you say that the kettlebell is a bad thing when you hurt yourself? You did it for nine months “happily” and then hurt yourself so now it’s bad. I’ve used it for three years and work with a 50 lbs (I’m 160 by the way) and have never experienced an injury. I don’t throw the kettlebell over my head because it is downright STUPID!!!!! Let me tell you, I have heard about people hurting themselves doing benchpressing (which I don’t like because you have to rely on a spotter and you may get that one guy who is easily distracted…right when you need him to be focused (experience). There are some guys who have hurt themselves using the straight bar and yes, dumbbells. I’ve met plenty.

It would seem, Logan, that you are sensitive to the injury. If I had a time machine I guess I’d go back in the past to see what you had been doing that could have contributed to the incident or if anything warn you that in the future you could get hurt. Again, the people who promote the kettlebell and say how glorious it is and don’t give the time to explain how you can get hurt….well it disgusts me. But it should be noted that with ANY exercise device there is always that risk of getting hurt. What ever the tool may be.

Please don’t reference me to a virus as you did before. Your injury doesn’t mean that kettlebells are evil. Kettlebells had been around for several decades so you should know, that in Russia, they were NOT marketed like they are in America. As much as I love my country, I’ll say that the businessmen here have no consideration for guys like you who may get hurt over it.

I hope you have a save life and never have to go through any of that again.

-Sev

P.S.- Kettlebell Power to You….comrade.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm

To be fair, I don’t think Logan was calling kettlebells evil. I believe he was saying that using them for snatches is dangerous, yet the people marketing the bells are teaching people to do this and only expressing the risks associated in a diminished fashion.
[img]http://www.trainatgameshape.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/P1011956.jpg[/img]
The best example of this is how people sell those padded wrist warmers with a kettlebell logo on them. As if that is all you would need to stop a break if you over-rotated a heavy bell. That would only protect people using the lighter beginner weights.

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VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV May 3, 2010 at 3:38 am

I completely agree with the author. The way kettlebells flip in the air and pound and slam into the forearm while doing snatches looks creepy. Whatever happens to to the elbow joint and wrist’s tendons and ligaments? Nothing good. Also I would like to say a few things about pavel ‘tsatsouline’. I live in russia, you know. And I know for sure his last name should be spelled as TSATSULIN, and not ‘Tsatsouline’. There are certain rules of transcribing cyrillic alphabet names into Latin alphabet that the passport issuing agencies must follow. ‘Tsatsouline’ looks very odd. Seems like a some French like surname. They don’t write last names like that in passports in russia. Tsatsulin is a fake con man just as his last name. He touts his ‘master of sports’ title. Well, it’s nothing much actually. Everyone who wins a regional, that is state, championship gets the title. And see how many regions in russia with virtually little to none competition in various sports, kettlebell sport included. Besides you can easily buy anything in russia, included the ‘master of sports’ title and Institute of physical culture bachelor degree diploma that is touted by tsatsulin too. Concerning the spetsnaz hype by tsatsulin. There are various spetsnazes in russia. And most are some crappy SWAT like units in police city departments. Fat, poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly paid brutes they are. Which one spetsnaz did tsatsulin purportedly train? He says he trained a SOVIET spetsnaz. I highly doubt it. Tsatsulin was 21 year old in 1991 when the ussr ceased too exist. Too young to train anyone even crappy spetsnazes.

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Thomas May 3, 2010 at 10:06 am

I checked and you are posting from Russia.

While I don’t want this page to turn into a debate about Pavel, it’s hard to avoid the fact that he’s controversial. I’ve heard rumors that his Russian accent is affected. I don’t know anything about it and it’s probably irresponsible for me to repeat it, but I’m sure that if he had known how successful his promotional efforts were to become, he’d have done some things differently. You can probably say that about most celebrities and public figures.

As to the credentials, what you’re saying seems accurate. I tell people all the time that if someone’s degree(s) were not issued by a fully accredited school, the degrees are not trustworthy. Accreditation of post-secondary institutions in the US is tricky enough. For non-US schools, it’s a nightmare. While this is a problem for medical and engineering degrees, it’s also a big problem for personal trainer-type credentials.

The Spetsnaz stuff is just vulgar. That sort of claim — that the master trained special forces and secret agents — is a standard claim used by martial-arts con-men for decades. It’s effective because it’s un-verifiable. Thankfully these sorts of Bullshido promotional techniques are no longer very effective for martial art con-men, because of the rise of MMA where actions speak louder than words. But the company that Pavel works for uses them very effectively to promote so-called kettlebell training.

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Brian May 17, 2010 at 6:35 am

Thomas,

I have to agree with you, I’ve been working out for quite abit of my short 43 years on this earth and i can honestly say i have tried most equipment out there; including KB’s my gym has them plus any free weights i.e. barbells, DB’s, KB’s and the new TRX slings. If anything out of my review for bodyweight exercises and you can afford them is the TRX slings and for a less expensive (depending on the brands) the free weights are great, if you can Mx-Fit the workout (i.e. TRX bodyweight + free weights) then you got a perfect marriage. Maybe i should submit a photo of how i look for this 43 yr physique and i never diet hehe and have been injury free for the longest time…I guess most people think i am a MMA fighter with the results…

Thanks yours truly,

Brian C.

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Ronald July 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Wow.

That’s what I first thought when I read your article. My heart hurt; I’m a student who’d just spent quite a bit on KBs and here I get someone telling me I shouldn’t have sold my DBs.

But I get your concerns. Your article states that KBs aren’t helpful for skinny guys who want to bulk up. However, I’m wondering what you think about its effectiveness for martial artists, specifically Wushu. I do Wushu, and if you search it on youtube you can see it’s mainly a performance art. There’re alot of speedy movements and high jumps, and from what I’ve done with the KB this past month I can really feel improvement in my Wushu. The key benefit is that I feel better at absorbing shocks. This helps me with my jumps, because we frequently have to land in a horse stance and that can really cause serious injuries like ACL tears. The KB has helped me in that area, as well as general fitness. Would you recommend I continue with it?

some stuff edited out by skinnybulkup

Right now I’m using rubber KBs, both for my 16kg and 24kg. I hope that means I have less of a chance of having the same injury you did. But thanks for letting kettlebell users know about this, because you’ve motivated me to be extra careful with the KB from now on.

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Thomas July 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Quote

I’m wondering what you think about its effectiveness for martial artists, specifically Wushu. I do Wushu, and if you search it on youtube you can see it’s mainly a performance art. There’re alot of speedy movements and high jumps, and from what I’ve done with the KB this past month I can really feel improvement in my Wushu. The key benefit is that I feel better at absorbing shocks. This helps me with my jumps, because we frequently have to land in a horse stance and that can really cause serious injuries like ACL tears. The KB has helped me in that area, as well as general fitness. Would you recommend I continue with it?

End Quote

My recommendation is for you to figure out how professional athletes — those who make a living using their bodies — worked out and trained when they were younger, then base your workouts on the core principles they used to reach their current heights. Please note that this isn’t the same thing as saying you should train just like a pro.

I don’t have a problem with you using your KB for whatever you want, as long as you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you start focusing on getting better with the KB, instead of on improving towards your original goals, than it becomes counterproductive.

In another post, you asked me to recommend a workout for you. I don’t prescribe workouts for people on the ‘net because everyone is different, and the most important part of fitness is tweaking your personal workout until you get the best results possible. The generic workout that you start with isn’t as important as the hand-crafted masterpiece that you (hopefully) end up with once you gain some experience. That, and I’m not expert enough to design something new.

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Logan Christopher July 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Since I have been ‘attacked’ here as the guy teaching kettlebell juggling I feel the need to respond.

John Logan why have you never contacted me, instead attacking me and my name in various places across the internet?

You are the first and only one I have ever heard of breaking their arm with a kettlebell. That sucks for you. Sure kettlebells can cause injuries. So can weights. So can cars. So can sticks. So can virtually anything misused or just with a little bad luck. People get hurt all the time doing nothing.

I teach people kettlebell juggling. No shit there’s elements of risk involved. The moves I do are not for beginners. I do not recommend them for beginner’s. The potential for risk is there but I have never, not once, hurt myself in any shape or form kettlebell juggling. Some idiot can try to copy me off of the videos on youtube. He can also try to copy any number of dangerous stunts found online and hurt him or herself.

I’m not forcing anyone to pick up a kettlebell. I do not force anyone to juggle them. Those that want to can use my information to safely and productively get better at it and get the benefits kettlebells and kettlebell juggling provide.

As regards to the article on this site I love kettlebells and find most of the points above wrong. I train with them all the time, but not exclusively. I am in better shape, more muscular than I have ever been and injury free.

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John Logan July 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm

I’d like to help the “idiot” you refer to, the one who might copy your example of kettlebell juggling. I’d like to stop him getting his skull caved in. There’s no safe way to throw a 32kg kettlebell overhead repeatedly. Sooner or later, someone will end up dead or a vegetable because of that element of risk you acknowledge. Maybe someone with a family etc depending on him or her. Even if you regard such a person as an “idiot”, surely even idiots do not deserve that.
You are promoting the idea of overhead kettlebell juggling with heavy weight. This promotion can be seductive, especially when only a positive spin is put on the activity, it looks like a lot of fun, people can get the impression it is safer than it really is. Liability insurance may, sadly, protect you from any legal consequences when the first student turns up with a fractured skull/brain damage. But that will not mean that the juggling was a good idea, or that you have no true responsibility for any damage done by the idea you promoted.
Tsatsouline should not have endorsed your website.
He is old enough to know better, though this does not seem to aid his judgement.

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Logan Christopher July 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Tell me, did you rail against the show Jackass because people would emulated that and got hurt?

Do you protest outside the circus because someone might emulate their dangerous stunts?

I know a guy the broke his arm riding his bicycle recently. In fact I’ve hurt myself on numerous occasions doing so. Do you get up in arms with the bike manufacturers about their liability in producing ‘dangerous’ equipment.

“You are promoting the idea of overhead kettlebell juggling with heavy weight.” You seem to be stuck on the overhead thing. The fact is few of the moves go overhead, the majority are out front or to the sides. I show progressions where people can work up to the overhead moves, if they choose.

“There’s no safe way to throw a 32kg kettlebell overhead repeatedly.” I’ve done it, so have my students, if they go that heavy, so I obviously there is a safe way.

You hurt yourself with kettlebells (snatching not even juggling) and you feel its your mission to protect everyone from them now?

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John Logan July 11, 2010 at 7:28 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVS1sVn5bjI

There is plenty of high, overhead, heavy kettlebell throwing in the above link of yours Mr Christopher.
The bell is not in control. Observe the fumbled catches, and the force with which it hits the deck just beside feet.
Putting aside the risk of brain damage or skull fracture, are you aware that the human foot cannot always be repaired after crush injury? I have read accounts on bone injury forums of years of agony after foot injury. One was by an ex-soldier who could find no relief from the constant foot pain four years after the kind of crush injury that very nearly happens in the above video. There are bones in the human foot that cannot yet be successfully repaired if smashed.
“Quick feet are happy feet,” is Tsatsouline’s answer to this on his Enter the Kettlebell video, but obviously that is no answer at all.

The “Jackass” TV show contains its warning in the title; likewise, the circus is well-known to be the domain of only the highly -skilled performer. “Don’t do this at home” is the caveat and everyone knows it.

The kettlebell phenomenon, and its worst instance is the overhead kettlebell juggling, misleads people into believing that it IS safe for people to do this stuff at home. You are selling DVDs teaching people how to do it, and here you are above, stating that it can be done safely. The sheer number of your videos on Youtube and elsewhere, and the way websites (part of the ever-growing kettlebell community of inter-feeding business relationships) will host your content and put ONLY a positive spin on it, never bothering to emphasize the dangers, means that people will pick up the idea that kettlebell juggling is safer than it really is.
Sooner or later, this will lead to someone being seriously injured or killed. If anyone thinks this is an exaggeration, please watch the video linked above and consider the weights and speeds involved. If you are still in doubt, show the video to a doctor specialising in brain trauma and ask his opinion of what he sees in the video.

You and your students do it safely you say. Safely so far. Safely until the first serious injury or death.

On The World’s Strongest Librarian website you state in a guest post on kettlebell juggling:
“And if you want to have true mastery of a kettlebell of a given weight, its not enough to be able to do a hundred snatches. Think that’s hard? Try flipping it over and around your shoulder and other even more advanced kettlebell juggling moves.”

So you are promoting this dangerous activity to the average reader and trainer, you are encouraging them, and for business reasons.

I haven’t seen all your Youtube videos which you say an “idiot” may copy. I have seen about 10 of them. They all contained some overhead work. They all contained some missed catches.

Is it my mission to protect everyone from kettlebells?
Someone ought to be doing it. Mostly I’m busy doing other things.
It’s not the kettlebell at fault, it’s the lousy information, and worse, the overwhelming positive hype that leaves people thinking what is not safe is safe.

As someone else says up-page here, it is disgusting to see training principles marketed strongly at an unsuspecting, unprotected public (the “idiots” as you refer to them)…without any serious warnings accompanying the training information.

Monkey see, monkey do, but is it the monkey’s fault if he’s had some guy internet-marketing an idea at him, and he’s started to get caught up in the hype, and he starts believing that yeah, overhead kettlebell juggling with a 32kg bell must be really cool and safe, that dude Logan Christopher’s doing it, and he’s making posts on websites saying there’s a safe way to do it every time, and look, there’s a hundred videos on Youtube of him doing it and gee he only drops the bell sometimes and it hasn’t split his head open or crushed his foot yet, it must be safe…and look, there’s that website I trust, The World’s Strongest Librarian and gee, there’s that guy Logan Christopher guest posting about kettlebell juggling and look, Josh Hanagarne and everyone on this website says it’s really cool, no injuries mentioned here, and they say this dude Logan is really strong, and he says, this guy Logan, snatches aren’t enough, I gotta be able to flip it around my shoulder and do other even more advanced stuff, well Logan says it so this juggling is what I really want to do too now and I will!

Only thing is, the poor sucker doesn’t know you’re calling him an “idiot” if he copies one of your videos.

By the way, a 16kg bell coming down with momentum is enough to crack open the average skull…I’m only emphasising the fact that you are doing demo videos with a 32kg to illustrate just how far from common sanity this new wave of training has travelled now.

Only an “idiot” would copy you off Youtube?
You’re actively out there on the internet, trying to drum up business, new recruits to the juggling, you’d love it if it became a craze you could cash in on which means more and more people copying the example you are promoting.

And screw anyone whose head gets busted open in the process, cos that proves they musta been “idiots”.

Time will tell who the idiots are.

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John Logan July 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm

The right warning at the right time can serve to protect.
People do not know the risks always. They might be caught up in overwhelmingly positive marketing hype that does not emphasize the risk element.
I’m not trying to stop anyone doing anything.
I certainly did not know, when I was doing my weekly snatch workouts for 6 months, that the kettlebell snatch could break my arm in half one day without any warning. Tsatsouline has said that he did not know this was possible either.
This proves that you are wrong: people do not know the risks, not even the “teachers”.

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Logan Christopher July 15, 2010 at 12:23 pm

That video you linked to was a performance from two professionals. That show was for entertainment purposes. You see all those people watching. I’m guessing not one went out and tried kettlebell juggling. I put the video up for my customers and subscribers who are interested in seeing what can be done and may like to work up to that level if they choose to.

I concede that I should have warnings on my videos. Forgive me for thinking the risk is obvious, and a warnings not needed. Forgive me for thinking people should have personal responsibility. The truth is that a warning would likely get people more interested, and drum up more business, so thanks for the idea.

Anyway it’s not like I haven’t talked about the dangers before. Specifically from my site:
http://www.kettlebelljuggling.com/blog/kettlebell-injuries/

You seem to be hung up on this “idiot” thing. I did not mean anyone who copies me is an idiot. Poor wording on my part if it came across that way. BUT if someone copies me and somehow thinks that the kettlebell couldn’t hurt him or her if they hit their head or foot with it, then yes, maybe that person may not be playing with a full deck. Do you think a warning sign would really deter such a person?

And if someone can go straight into juggling a 32kg bell (which by the way I rarely use, maybe in two of my videos) all the more power to them. There is something called progressive training. One to be able to lift that heavy weight, which most out there couldn’t even do, and two to have the skills and power to juggle it overhead.

By the way “Quick feet are happy feet” came from Jeff Martone not Pavel. He teaches kettlebell juggling too. Have you attacked him lately? Do a search for kettlebell juggling and you’ll find tons of other videos from other people. Forgive me for producing a DVD set that shows people how to do it safely and progressively. You’re right, I must not care if anyone gets hurt doing this. I’m heartless and cruel, and only about the almighty dollar.

What happened to you was a freak accident, assuming it happened as you said it did. Do you have weak bones? Osteoporosis? Look I feel for you. I’ve had broken bones too. Broke my knee on the school yard. Ban recess, it’s dangerous (oh wait they’re actually trying to do that.) I had my nose broken in a mosh-pit many years ago. No one told me that was dangerous. I should have sued shouldn’t I?

You can’t look at the outliers, the long tail, to examine the effectiveness of anything. You rail against kettlebells yet there are many, many people using them in all different ways, getting great results in improvements in strength, conditioning, skills, body composition and more.

Are they for everyone? No. Is there tons of hype surrounding them? Sure. But are they actually effective and safe when used correctly? For the majority YES!

I just talked to a strongman the other day who dropped some weight plates on his foot, crushing it. Better get youtube to pull down all weight training videos online, lest someone hurt themselves.

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Thomas July 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Are they for everyone? No. Is there tons of hype surrounding them? Sure. But are they actually effective and safe when used correctly? For the majority YES!

I suppose I can’t leave this statment unchallenged, since the major point of the article is that kettlebells are less safe and less effective than dumbbells, and there’s virtually nothing you can do with a kettlebell that you can’t do with a dumbbell.

Despite the “history of kettlebells” baloney promulgated by marketing experts like Pavel, et al, kettlebells were not some secret training device used by ancient Russian ur-athletes.

Rather, they were the original “adjustable weight”: hollow metal spheres filled with varying amounts of lead shot; and they didn’t have anything at all to do with Russia. These bells were an improvement over cast-iron trading weights, because they offered adjustability which is the best way to introduce progression into a training program. Plus, they had a decent handle that was made from forged steel (unlike the thick, cast-iron handles on many of today’s so-called ‘kettlebells’).

Back then, the only thing that even superficially resembled “kettlebell competition” were Scottish highland games, in which athletes threw trading weights. That, and some strongmen who practiced lifting feats and tricks with true, hollow kettlebells as a gambling gimmick.

It wasn’t until later, in the Soviet Union, that the inaccurately-named solid-metal ‘kettlebells’ (unlike hollow spheres, they’re not true bells, after all) were mass produced. The poor Soviets couldn’t afford anything better. These awful training devices came complete with ungainly, thick handles and the extremely limited range of different sizes still found in many of today’s lines. Unfortunately, marketing experts like Pavel still try to convince gullible newbies that these drawbacks are actually “features”.

The West, meanwhile, had abandoned kettlebells (and fixed-weight and/or hollow barbells) decades prior, as soon as adjustable dumbbells, weight plates, and barbells with rotating sleeves began to be cheaply mass-produced and widely distributed. Once athletes got their hand(s) on adjustable dumbbells, there was no need for kettlebells, because dumbbells are superior in every way.

Athletes found that any speed exercise — like the snatch, the clean, and assistance moves like the high pull — are best performed with a rotating-sleeve barbell. Doing them with dumbbells (or, heaven forbid, a kettlebell) is less effective (and in the case of kettlebells, much more dangerous). This has been known for a century or more; it’s a shame that the facts get buried under mountains of marketing hype.

Furthermore, strength athletes knew that kettlebells were basically worthless for bulking up, because:

  • The thick handles severely limit progress on “pulling” exercises
  • The off-center balance point limits progress on “pushing” exercises
  • The lack of weight adjustability cripples exercise progression
  • The un-ergonomic shape forces you to alter the exercise to conform to the ‘bell, turning your session into a “kettlebell workout” rather than a “strength training” workout

Since there’s nothing you can do with a kettlebell that you can’t do better and more safely with a dumbbell, kettlebell hypesters resort to muddying the waters regarding “kettlebell training”. They claim that exercises like the snatch, clean and press, swing, etc. were secret inventions developed by ancient kettlebell-toting warriors (or some similar baloney).

Those claims are, of course, hogwash.

These exercises are speed exercises that have been used by Olympic-style lifters for as long as anyone’s cared to keep track of such things, and until recently, they had absolutely nothing to do with kettlebells. Ironically, the exercises are much more effective (and safer) on proper equipment than they are with kettlebells. And, with the invention of rotating-sleeve dumbbells, it’s possible to do single-arm, unilateral speed work (like dumbbell snatches, for instance) with much more safety than when using a kettlebell, and without the long period of flexibility training needed with olympic barbells. Additionally, because of adjustability, you can keep the reps low (which is where they belong in exercises like the snatch or the clean).

So, when you say kettlebells are “effective and safe” you’re wrong. They’re less effective and less safe than modern weight-training equipment. While this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically destroy your body the second you pick up a ‘bell, it does mean there are better, cheaper, safer alternatives readily available.

(Just between you and me, Logan Christopher, I congratulate you on finding the one thing for which kettlebells are better suited than dumbbells: juggling and throwing. I don’t have a problem with you or your pasttime.)

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Logan Christopher July 15, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Dumbbells are better for most standard weight training exercises for some of the reasons you stated. I don’t agree with everything, like “The off-center balance point strains the wrist during presses and “pushing” movements”. If you know how to hold a kettlebell, unless its too big, this is not at all a problem. You also state in your article that a kettlebell clean is unweildly. I would much rather clean and hold a heavy kettlebell than a dumbbell.

Kettlebells do offer one unique benefits for the ballistic exercises you mentioned, the swings, cleans, and snatches. The off-set mass actually makes the exercise more effective. And yes, there are benefits to doing high reps in these moves, which the kettlebell allows you to do more of.

I understand your purpose of this site is for helping people to gain mass. Are kettlebells the best tool? No, although they can be used for it. Are barbells and dumbbells better? Yes if used properly. Every tool has its advantages and disadvantages. I’ll use all the tools to get all the advantages.

You neglect one main part in the article. Most people find kettlebells fun. People that may not train otherwise can have good success with kettlebells.

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John Logan July 16, 2010 at 11:03 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIFQlWP-xMA&playnext_from=TL&videos=wdehRinnnk4

Hello Logan:
My angle and interest here is focused solely on UNNECESSARY risk and the consequences. I do not believe the true risks are generally known.
For instance, you say:

“What happened to you was a freak accident, assuming it happened as you said it did. Do you have weak bones? Osteoporosis? Look I feel for you. I’ve had broken bones too. Broke my knee on the school yard. Ban recess, it’s dangerous (oh wait they’re actually trying to do that.) I had my nose broken in a mosh-pit many years ago. No one told me that was dangerous. I should have sued shouldn’t I?”

Your statement shows that you hold many false preconceptions.
No, I did not have weak bones or osteoporosis. I was 41 and as strong as a xxxxing horse when the snatch broke the arm. 24 years of bodyweight training had made sure of that, including slow one-arm pushups touching chest to floor each rep, I’d been doing them since 1993, record was 18 in a row, highest lean bodyweight was 230 pounds (down to 210 pounds when I was 41, 6 foot tall, 46 inch chest, 15 inch arms, 36 iuch waist etc…I have to give all this detail to offset the brittle-bone, fragile bone case that sometimes comes up when I dare report this injury.) Believe me, if I had a bone condition it would have been diagnosed at the hospital. Also, my bone healed (around the 6 screws and steel plate left in the arm) so fast and well after the operation that one doctor remarked on it at the 3 month point, shaking his head and laughing, unable to find any sign on X-ray that the bone had ever been broken, I could do 5 full-range slow two-hand pushups again by then at a chubby post-op 228 pounds (mostly caused by fluroquinolone toxicity after operation, a big unreported problem in itself).
http://www.askapatient.com/viewrating.asp?drug=19537&name=CIPRO&page=1
(Now, if I report other side-issues like that, you;ll accuse me of hypochondria..but I’ll take my chances, the fluoroquinolone toxicity is another complication of the nintitial injury, another risk factor, and I am trying to reveal the true risk factors, the fact is I hadn’t been to a doctor for decades (two of them) before this injury, hadn’t taken any drug or med in that time either apart from one dentist-precribed antibiotic in 1996).
OK…
a) I do not want you or anyone else to “feel for me”, that is not the reason I posted.
b) I would not be bothering to report a broken knee or nose that would heal in 6 weeks or so. What I am reporting is an injury that seems to be out of all proportion to what people generally would perceive as possible from snatching. The top link in this post is to the exact operation (not my own, but the same break and repair I needed) I had to have to fix the job done by the kettlebell snatch. Also, if my arm was back to anything like normal 15 months later I would not be “complaining” (what I am actually doing is warning anyone else who may be on the same road I was on, OK?) but after 15 months I can’t do a pullup, and the arm is at about 30 per cent of what it was and it’s filled with 6 screws and a steel plate, not ideal…or comfortable…it doesn’t have the strength or feel of a normal arm if I try to train it now…
Do people have a right to know this can happen just from a kettlebell snatch? I say they do.
You do not have to have brittle bones or osteoporosis for this to happen.
Must be bad form then, you will say.
Well, I keep having to repeat myself because the accusations are always the same. I had been training in all sorts of ways for 24 years before the snatch broke the arm. I was a weight training instructor in the 80s. I was never injured in 24 years, no-one I ever trained was injured. I always emphasized good form.
The Enter the Kettlebell book said start with a 16kg bell, if average; or a 20 kg bell if you bench press over 200 pounds; I could do full-range one-arm pushups at 210 pounds bodyweight so I started with the 24kg bell. Could easily press it right away. Did sets of 6 cleans and presses per arm. Spent 3 months working on the high pull, before doing the first snatch. A careful strategy, no?
Then worked up to workouts where I did 32 snatches (8 left, 8 right, 8 left, 8 right). Only ever used the 24 kg bell, from start to finish. I did a snatch workout once a week for 6 months. Loved every workout. Had no signs of bad form that the ETK book warned of. I had no forearm pain, no bruising, the training felt great.
Then, after 6 full months of doing snatches once a week, I went in my garden on April 4 2009 after warming up thoroughly with cleans and presses, high pulls…I did first rep of a set of snatches, felt great…did 2nd rep and the bell broke my arm in half…why was that rep different than the hundreds of other snatches I did weekly for 6 months before hand?
I do not bloody know. I wish I did.
So since then I have posted, sometimes (maybe 0.00001 per cent of my actual time, to warn others in case this happens to them).
And I have received great abuse for my troubles, Mr Christopher.
What was a very strong arm is now, relatively, a piece of junk…and this is worth it to have had the kettlebell fun? No.
If I had known this could happen I would not have used a kettlebell.

Now, I have been much-attacked for making statements like that, so let me explain.
I, personally, could not afford this injury, because of serious business and family responsibilities. I could go into more detail about that here, but why should I have to?
I researched kettlebells thoroughly for a year before buying one. There was no info out there that you could break your arm with one (the reason for that is clearer to me now, I have tried to post short, non-angry accounts of my injury on sites ABOUT kettlebell snatch injury, or general kettlebell injury, just to give people a heads-up, only to have those posts deleted/never published…this has happened repeatedly…negative reviews on websites (the websites I had trusted and believed when I read nothing but positive accounts) also deleted…even negative comments on Youtube vids (only negative in that I state I broke my arm snatching) deleted…so this shows me something is wrong here, I am only trying to warn other people who are snatching and do not know they are in line for such potential risk, but my attempts are blocked.
I am told everyone knows of the risk. That is not true.
Even Tsatsouline said he did not know of this risk, not until I reported what had happened.

I’ll give him credit for one thing, he did not imply I was lying as you have done. He must have had the wisdom to recognise the ring of truth in my account.
Since you cannot do that, then I suppose all I can come up with as proof would be to get the witness to the accident to post here, and maybe there are 4 people with computers who have seen the arm after the injury, maybe they would not mind posting.
But they are friends, so why would you believe them?
And why would I wan tto inconvenience them by asking.
My doctor is certainly too busy to post here…he was almost too dxxn busy to see me.
Nothing would actually prove a dxxn thing unless there was a photo of the exact moment the bell went through the arm and there is not.
There are dozens of other accounts on this webpage alone of injury from kettlebells. Are you going to go through their posts and ask them for proof also?
To Hxll with that son.

“That video you linked to was a performance from two professionals. That show was for entertainment purposes. You see all those people watching. I’m guessing not one went out and tried kettlebell juggling. I put the video up for my customers and subscribers who are interested in seeing what can be done and may like to work up to that level if they choose to.”

Anyone on Youtube can find the vid and copy what you do…and for that matter, the “professionals” fumble a hxll of a lot of catches causing heavy belle to smash into the deck don’t they?…where they do catch, it often looks far far from smooth…one catch looks like it could esily rip a vertebrae, hand reaches so far forward to pluck the bell back…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVS1sVn5bjI
I can’t believe no-one else is commenting on this, in order to protect the unwary who don’t notice such detail…or know about spinal/foot vulnerability to serious injury…

I just think that, like the snatch, it’s a very stupid idea to promote and put in people’s heads. But, to Hxll with it, at 43 this year, I’m probably a dinosaur who just doesn’t understand what’s going on any more…

“I concede that I should have warnings on my videos. Forgive me for thinking the risk is obvious, and a warnings not needed. Forgive me for thinking people should have personal responsibility. The truth is that a warning would likely get people more interested, and drum up more business, so thanks for the idea.”

I love all this advice on personal responsibility.
I don’t think you, or half the people who use that term, even know what it means.
Are you taking personal responsibility for promoting a practise that could get someone killed, or vegetabilised?
I said it above: monkey see, monkey do.
People WILL copy what you are doing…as inevitable as night following day to quote WS.
And as you said above, you should have warnings on your videos.
The exact wording of the warning would be interesting.
You would not want to say “Do not try this at home” as that would be bad for business.
How are you going to word it? Remember, you have to protect yourself from any responsibility (PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY) should any “idiot” get himself injured or killed following your training advice…and yet you have to make a living…hmm, difficult.

“Anyway it’s not like I haven’t talked about the dangers before. Specifically from my site:
http://www.kettlebelljuggling.com/blog/kettlebell-injuries/”

It’s about proportion. How much time spent encouraging others to do as you do; versus how much time spent reminding them it could get them killed (and you’d always have to remember to put in extra wording for the “idiots”…maybe they have wives and kids depending on them etc)

“You seem to be hung up on this “idiot” thing. I did not mean anyone who copies me is an idiot. Poor wording on my part if it came across that way. BUT if someone copies me and somehow thinks that the kettlebell couldn’t hurt him or her if they hit their head or foot with it, then yes, maybe that person may not be playing with a full deck. Do you think a warning sign would really deter such a person?”

It is more the case that, after months of years, of being subjected to positive hype, and injury potential being minimised, they end up with a false idea of the activity’s safety, or objectively true risk level. They have been told a false story, a lie. Not so much that individuals are “not playing with a full deck”; more the case that a few cards have been hidden from the deck.
Let me explain:
a) A person can only make a judgement whether an activity is safe for them, or its risks are acceptable, if they are given full disclosure and the true facts.
b) I know the kettlebell community suppresses data about injury
c) I know this because when I tried to report my injury I was called a liar, a whiner, I was told I should be ashamed to report such an injury if it did happen. Then my posts were deleted. This happened on not one website, but most of them.
d) You know this already Logan, in the kettlebell community the rule is, if you get hurt it’s your fault. If you report the injury, it is like trying to tell a girl’s lock-room, they chant “idiot” at you until you go away, if you don’t go away they just delete your info. Does one really want to take training information/advice from people like this? I regret deeply that I did.

“And if someone can go straight into juggling a 32kg bell (which by the way I rarely use, maybe in two of my videos) all the more power to them. There is something called progressive training. One to be able to lift that heavy weight, which most out there couldn’t even do, and two to have the skills and power to juggle it overhead.”

With all that at stake, do I think the kettlebell snatch is a safe exercise? No. The damage it cam do is not in proportion to the use or fun of the exercise.
That has only ever been my single point.
For anyone like me, who cannot afford unnecessary risk for one reason or another.

I should think it’s obvious that this (from my perspective) goes one-hundred-fold when talling about kettlebell juggling, particularly heavy, and particularly overhead, is involved.

Am I speaking for, or to, a minority?
Of course, I absolutely accept that.
But the minority needs representation also, Logan.
The minority for whom kettlebell snatching, or juggling, is not safe and NOT worth the risk.
Does that minority need a warning?
Well, obviously I could have used one.
For the lack of a warning that the kettlebell snatch could break my arm, I picked up the first serious physical injury of my life…one which is not over, 15 months later (there is no knowing the potential health sequelae/implications from leaving steel plate and screws inside someone for the rest of their life…some doctors think it causes cancer, immune diseases, infection, metal toxicity in organs……on the other hand I am informed trying to remove the metal from my forearm could result in permanent loss of use of my left hand)…
Do people not have a right to warning that a kettlebell snatch could cause that level of harm to someone who previously had been strong and healthy (and successful and useful to their family and friends, not “an idiot”) for 41 years?
And remember, I had been a teacher of weight training, I still know people now who I trained 20 or 25 years ago who can’t believe this happened to me BECAUSE I was no idiot, and very careful.

If a kettlebell snatch can do this to me, what can heavy over-head kettlebell juggling do to someone this year or next, or the one after?

I did not intend to attack you personally.
It was your videos I kept running into on Youtube, not Jeff Martone’s, so I wrote about you.
If I ran into Martone’s, I would be writing about him, as honestly as I can.

John Logan

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Logan Christopher July 18, 2010 at 11:40 am

I’ve discussed this with others. The reason people accuse you of being a liar, an idiot, having weak bones, horrible form or any and everything else is because the injury is a freak accident. I do not understand how the kettlebell could break your arm from a snatch that was no different from any other. It doesn’t even seem possible. I have not heard of another case of it ever happening. (And I realize none of this matters personally to you because you’re the one who it did happen too.)

I’m sure these same thoughts occur to most people who read your story. Then when you come into their realm on their website, forum and blog with an attacking attitude (again this is how it comes across even if you’re just trying to inform) are you really surprised people attack you back or your comments are deleted?

James brought up an excellent point about parkour. There are tons more videos online with no warnings. This is a lot more dangerous than kettlebells or even kettlebell juggling and people do get hurt all the time. I also do promote a Parkour Tutorial DVD on one of my sites:
http://www.lostartofhandbalancing.com/products/parkour-dvd/

I understand your desire to warn or protect people from injuries with kettlebells. Its a noble cause. I think for the reasons stated above its mostly a lost cause too.

Yes injuries result from kettlebells, mostly from poor use. Yes injuries occur from any other weight lifting or physical training. Should these be made more evident to people? Sure, but a lot of things SHOULD be done.

You did well to never get hurt in 24 years of training. That’s truly amazing to never suffer even a minor injury in that time. Then a freak accident happened with kettlebells.

If, when you were looking at kettlebells, you read about one guy who broke his arm would that really have deterred you? James just mentioned dislocating shoulders with Olympic lifts. Is that risk going to stop my from ever doing those or touching a barbell? No.

At some point it is possible someone will suffer a bad injury or possibly even death at the hands of kettlebell juggling. It could happen. That really sucks. But going back to personal responsibility I think it is self-evident the dangers that are in doing these things. Just like parkour. By engaging in the activity you realize these possible risks and decide to go forward regardless of them. Can I have people online sign a waiver saying they understand the risks? I can’t. I can promote kettlebell juggling, and people that want to do it will get started. People that don’t want to do it will not. Once again I’m not forcing anyone.

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John Logan July 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

“the major point of the article is that kettlebells are less safe and less effective than dumbbells”

You answered the point about effectiveness, Logan.
You said absolutely nothing about the issue of safety.

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Logan Christopher July 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

I don’t think kettlebells are any more or less safe then dumbbells or barbells. They’re all heavy weights. The truth is in the past I have hurt myself with all of the above, almost always through doing something stupid on my part.

There is nothing in the design that is inherently more dangerous than a dumbbell. The offset mass gives different effects. Can it cause injuries? Yes if you’re not aware of how to use a kettlebell differently than a dumbbell. Or if you go to heavy or lose control, just like in anything else. Sure kettlebells take a little more technique to get use too than dumbbells, the skill training pointed to in the article, but with that you’re good to go.

As was stated, it’ll depend on your goals. I think kettlebells are a good way, even great way, to reach many goals. In other cases other tools will be better suited for the job.

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John Logan July 16, 2010 at 4:48 pm

“There is nothing in the design that is inherently more dangerous than a dumbbell.”

The difference is that if a kettlebell snatch goes wrong the iron ball hits your arm and breaks it.
I used dumbells for 25 years. A dumbbell snatch would never have broken my arm.

Anyway, you have not yet seen my response to all the points in your third and fourth post, Logan.
That post is still awaiting moderation (because it was so long I think) and may be published if you check back later.
(I think it will appear 3 posts up-page from this one)

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James Glover July 17, 2010 at 4:36 am

John ,

I am member of an olympic weight lifting club in South London. We have had many injuries, some serious through barbell snatching and clean& jerk . Only the other day we had a shoulder dislocation. We also use kettlebells both for conditioning and competititive lifting called Girevoy Sport where male competitors snatch a single bell for 10 minutes and also clean & jerk for 10 minute with two bells. Female competitors only use one bell on both disciplines. We’ve used kettlebells for almost two decades, no major injuries to report of except a few sore hands. So to clarify – all forms of weight training could be considered dangerous, including the kettlebells but we tend not to think about it as we enjoy what we do.

Shame about your injury at least it’s impressive to show people – any photos. LOL

James

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John Logan July 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

James,
Aye, I never thought about injury in first 24 years training and never had any, just enjoyed what I did. Same went for the 9 month kettlebell training, never imagined injury was possible, just enjoyed it…
A long time up-page in all this “conversation” I acknowledged that if you get good face-to-face instruction, like from your club maybe…then that is probably going to go a long way to stop UNNECESSARY injury.
I only learned the kettlebell snatch from books and DVDs, they only said to watch out for forearm pain, or forearm bruising, I had neither, my 32-rep snatch workouts felt fine and looked fine to the 4 or 5 mates who witnessed (but they weren’t kettlebell instructors). But all that meant nothing, even after 6 months of nothing-but-enjoyable snatch workouts I broke the arm.
Maybe this is because I only learned from books and DVDs, I don’t know.
I spotted the same potential danger regarding the juggling, overhead with heavy weight, even in the video with the “professionals” doing it there are fumbles and missed catches, and the bell coming down just past the head.
I saw DVDs teaching this were being sold by Mr Christopher from his website, and I could imagine some-one getting one and trying it WITHOUT FACE-TO-FACE INSTRUCTION.
Same with the Youtube videos, people will copy them…I mean, Mr Christopher did a post on The World’s Strongest Librarian site, encouraging people to do it, stating that mastery of the snatch isn’t enough, true mastery would involve the juggling…so the idea is being promoted at people.
People will use the DVDs or written info to learn the stuff alone, thinking it is maybe safer than it is (as I did with the snatch) and someone is going to get real fxxxed up, much worse than a dislocated shoulder.
You think the juggling is awesome James?
OK, when are you going to try overhead juggling a 32kg bell?
Give it a try and report how it goes.

“all forms of weight training could be considered dangerous”

I’m not here saying stuff like that. I trained happily for 24 years, including training others, nothing dangerous about it, not one injury in me or anyone else.

The kettlebell thing, with the modern internet business model hard behind it, spreading the word, is a different matter.

Lof of people reporting injuries on this page, James, that they did not get with other weight training. Read up=page and you’ll see.
Photos? No man, nowt to see here now but a little scar, arm looks normal otherwise.
John

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Thomas September 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I don’t think kettlebells are any more or less safe then dumbbells or barbells. They’re all heavy weights.

This is where you are wrong.

Dumbbells were engineered to address the injury problems inherent in kettlebells. Later, they were further refined to be adjustable.

For athletes doing two-handed work, rotating-sleeve barbells were invented to solve the injury problem caused by non-rotating barbells.

Each step in the evolution of strength-training equipment is an improvement over the one that came before.

There is nothing in the design that is inherently more dangerous than a dumbbell.

Yes, there is.

When you use low rep power moves with a heavy kettlebell, you have to use “proper kettlebell technique” to avoid damaging yourself. This means you’re not primarily training power, speed, and strength. Instead you’re training yourself to adapt to a kettlebell, while hoping you get some conditioning benefit along the way.

With a rotating-sleeve barbell, or a dumbbell (which also might have a rotating sleeve), the barrier to entry is much, much lower. Athletes use this equipment to train power and speed without the need to avoid injury by contorting their bodies.

To get around this injury problem, kettlebell advocates use high reps and sub-maximal effort. They involve themselves in “kettlebell training” rather than general purpose training. It’s impossible to use a kettlebell as a neutral training tool; athletes have to first learn how to manipulate the kettlebell before they get any real training benefit. And when they become kettlebell experts, they still can’t work out as effectively as athletes who use modern dumbbells or barbells.

I think kettlebells are a good way, even great way, to reach many goals.

Kettlebells work. So do milk jugs filled with concrete. So do dumbbells and barbells.

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James Glover July 16, 2010 at 4:56 pm

John ,

If you don’t like a certain fitness routine or you think it is dangerous, don’t do it. It really is that simple, it’s not rocket science. There’s guys that do parkour that’s a million times more dangerous – wish i could do it too!

Why am I even having this ‘conversation’.

You are free to do whatever you want. Best way is to surround yourself with positive people. Logan (the other one) seems to be one such guy. The kettlebell juggling looks awesome!

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John Logan July 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm

James,
Sometimes by the time you find out how dangerous the exercise is, it’s too late.
I found that out with the snatch.
I don’t see what is positive about creating the illusion that exercises which are not safe are safe.
Why do people think the kettlebell snatch is safe?
Because of the positive info they hear on the snatch.
Now I know that info is false, negative info. How do I know? Because after I broke my arm snatching, I tried to report the injury on kettlebell websites ABOUT kettlebell injury, even on web-pages specifically ABOUT kettlebell snatch injury. These websites would not publish the info, because that info is bad for business. They did not want people warned what could happen. I do admit I’ve felt a bit negative about the kettlebell since one broke my left forarm in half.
With kettlebell juggling the problem is even more obvious.
Logan (the positive one) is positive that overhead kettlebell juggling with heavy weight can be done safely.
I’m positive that it cannot be done consistently safely, and that it is only a matter of time before the first tragedy.

“surround yourself with positive people”
What self-help New Age book you been reading, boy?
The “Gee Awesome I wanna do that cos they are!” manual?
Give me old Europe’s tradition of solar pessimism anyday (less B.S to digest with one’s greens)
But…Awesome post James, thanks for the “conversation”.

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James Glover July 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm

You’d be shocked at some of the weights the guys snatch at the club with a barbell. One female can do close to 90kg and she’s less that 65kg herself. But she didn’t learn that from a book or DVD or youtube. One to one with progression is essential. But we get injuries even with that. They know the risks they signed consent forms which if course you don’t need with a book or DVD. A book or vid could never replace a hands on trainer.

I don’t think I would want to remove youtube videos on kettlebell juggling. Not because I don’t think it is dangerous (I don’t really have an opinion) but more because of the freedom of expression and exhibitionism of mankind – blimey mate I’ve gone all philosophical! Time to go and do some weight lifting and exercise that rite.

No more from me

Jamey

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James Glover July 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

People can warn about the ‘possible’ dangers of of kettlebells and try to put people off, and then up jumps law of unintended consequences -if you tell somebody not to do something or warn of the dangers you are actually encouraging more people to do it. There is no such thing as bad PR afterall.

John: Your intentions may have been good ones, but in doing so you are actually encouraging more people to take up and try kettlebell juggling. So of course you can continue to argue – it’s good PR for kettlebll juggling and I’ll try and get some PR for olympic lifting at the club – actually we have waiting list (or is it weighting lift)

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Joseph July 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hey guys,

I think this article is quite reactionary to the recent hype of kettlebells. However, there are some points I agree with, though it is badly researched and has many bold statements that can be challenged (e.g. kettlelbells have limited amount of movements) Surely, it’s similarity with dumbbells means it can be used for renegade rows, rows, high pulls, lunges, clean and press, SOTS press, floor press etc

I use kettlebells and dumbbells (well more barbells these days), to be honest I’m actually a huge fan of kettlebells, but for people really interested in massive gains in mass/ strength conventional weights seems to be the easier approach. Mainly because the program can be fairly rigid and increasing weight (providing you do not plateau) is steady.

However, after going to kettlebell classes, I see that much of the marketing for kbs is over hyped. But the approach for using kbs as a tool for improving fitness or “work capacity” is much easier for people who may struggle with dbs and bbs. I should point out I use more of the “soft” style of kettlebell training.

The kettlebell clean is much more easier than a barbell or dumbbell clean. Now I have used both competition kettlebells and cast iron ones. To the gentleman who broke his arm with the snatch, some cast iron kbs are NOT designed for the snatch or even the clean. They were made by companies trying to cash in on the hype, and is really a tool for the kb swing. I know! Because I always get a bad feeling when I snatch my 20kg cast iron, also technique wise there are ways to prevent a kb smacking into your arm. In competitions people can corkscrew the kettlebell up during the snatch.

I think for people interested in kbs, I would suggest find a class for it. There’s things like a shoulder press, in which for kbs the press is just vertical unlike military presses. Or for overhead squats, windmills, anyhows etc you don’t have to worry about the kb falling (as long as the weight is moderate) as the handle will prevent it, unlike dbs and bbs which has much more of a grip element.

Also, compared to the Olympic lifts, kb “lifts” are very accessible for people. The flexibility and power for a barbell snatch is difficult, but the coordination required is staggering. I think for people who wants to start bulking kbs are an option, but as their strength progresses bbs and dbs are much more appropriate protocols e.g. I wouldn’t get two 50kg kbs just so I can squat 100kg that’s more for barbells!

different tools for different goals. But preference to a tool and the ability to adhere to a training program will override the disadvantages of the tools.

One last point:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK_vV32N6-Y

yes what he does is dangerous and silly, but it does look quite fun!

And for those not familiar with kettlebells, he uses the hollow steel kettlebells for competition, so the size of the bell stays the same with the heaviest I’ve seen being 64kg, and the lightest is 8kg. So the technique is generally the same throughout progression

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Bryce August 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Has anyone ever had the ball part of a KB fall off of the handle? I’m curious, because I’ve had at least three (non ajustable) DBs fail on me, where the head came off.

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Thomas August 5, 2010 at 6:51 am

Kettlebell handles are integral to the whole thing — ‘bells are cast out of one piece of cast iron. There’s no way the handle can fall off unless there is some flaw in the metal.

Cheap kettlebells have such thick handles because if they were any thinner, they might crack off when the ‘bell is dropped (especially if a weak spot formed in the metal during casting). Thick handles are a limitation imposed by the manufacturing process, not a “feature”.

Some expensive kettlebells have thinner, forged handles that are welded to the base. I suppose those might fall off if the weld fails somehow.

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Anthony August 18, 2010 at 2:26 am

I can appreciate the author challenging the benefits of kettlebell training with regards to skinny kids trying to “bulk up”, though I think the approach is a misguided one.
One of the frustrating things about teaching people to use kettlebells is that you must learn how to properly use kettlebells and master the basics first. Many want to rush into complex movements like the snatch without building the necessary basic conditioning, flexibility and skillset.
This is the dumbbell equivalent of working out with weights that are too heavy for incline press (or any press for that matter) on your first day of working out without even using a spotter. You are asking for injury by doing this, but someone who has never used a dumbbell or lifted weights wouldn’t know basics like to use a spotter on heavy weights, and not to use that much weight when starting out in the first place (for example) or how to execute the proper form on the lift (leading to overuse or strain/sprain type injuries).
Yes it takes skill to use kettlebells but even dumbbells (and any strength training tool for that matter) do.
A lot of the things that are mentioned by the author as negatives of kettlebells (wrist strain on the clean, blisters/calluses on the hands from snatches, banging the forearms on snatches etc.) are things that, if taught to use kettlebells properly, are “textbook” when it comes to being addressed for the first-time user. I haven’t had a blister/excess calluses in some time (dumbbell users can get calluses as well), because I take care of my hands (as instructed) and have built up the appropriate muscle/grip endurance before jumping into the more difficult exercises. (kettlebell training focuses primarily on muscle endurance). The problems mentioned in this article are textbook problems of someone who has not practiced the basics before going into the more advanced drills. Trying to “walk before you crawl” in regards to strength training- in this case, kettlebells.
While bodybuilding tools like dumbbells are great for building big “bulky” muscle, they don’t do anything for your cardio; if you are a basketball player or football player for example, even if you do a lot of workouts with dumbbells to build big muscles, they are basically useless on the court or field without the cardio to back it up (you will get winded way too fast). This essentially more than doubles the time it takes for you to do your necessary conditioning to be competitve in your sport. Kettlebells enable you to do both. Also, once someone reaches the point of doing “a certain number of snatches” (100+) in 5 min, then you can rest assured that their conditioning is at a level where they are dominating competition in their respective sport. There are NFL players (check dragondoor’s website- I don’t remember their names but they are on there) that have stated that their careers may have been prolonged 5,6, or even 7 years because of the benefits of training with kettlebells. (this form of training hasn’t regained popularity until very recently, hence the reasoning for its current lag from the Arnold-era training that made dumbbells and barbells so popular back in the 70′s).
With kettlebells, you don’t need to do windsprints, cardio, or other conditioning, unless you want to do some that would be complemetary to it.
In conclusion, though dumbbells, may be better at building, large, bulky muscles; they are essentially better for “aesthetics”. Without the cardio to back it up, dumbbells are essentially completely for looks. Kettlebells shine because they enable you to build tremendous functional strength and conditioning in ways that dumbbells simply can’t (in much less time). It really depends on what your strength goals are- if you are a skinny kid who “just wants to bulk up” then maybe you should stick with dumbbells. If you are someone who wants to address all avenues of your strength and conditioning in a time frame that is realistic for today’s busy individual, then spending some time learning to use kettlebells properly and then actually exercising will be your best bet. (even jogging improperly will lead to knee injuries).

Anthony
-CA

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Thomas August 18, 2010 at 3:58 am

Anthony:

Thanks for the comment. You make a lot of good points in a sincere manner.

But I believe you’re missing the big picture.

You teach your favorite style of workout. That’s fine. But you go to great pains to paint it as somehow being exclusive to people who use kettlebells.

It is not.

Think about what you wrote: “Kettlebell training focuses primarily on muscule endurance“. This is inaccurate. What you mean to say is that your style of training focuses on muscular endurance, and you use a kettlebell during training. There is no reason you can’t do a muscular endurance workout with other tools (tools that I believe are superior).

Many athletes work out in a way that’s very similar to the workouts you recommend. They use high rep, olympic-style movements, and complexes or circuits, and they never think to use a kettlebell. There is no good reason to use a kettlebell for these sorts of workouts.

There’s a huge world out there, and Arnold-style bodybuilding is only a small part of it. I say dumbbells are superior to kettlebells and I stand behind that, no matter what style of training you prefer. There’s simply nothing you can do with a kettlebell that I can’t do better with adjustable dumbbells.

I train to get better at my sport. I don’t train just to be part of a group-think club that worships an implement. Training for me isn’t a competition or a game, so I use the tools that best suit the job.

If “kettlebell training” is your sport, so be it. That’s fine with me. I’ll keep teaching people the difference between ‘kettlebell training’ and general purpose training, and why kettlebells don’t serve their purposes as well as other tools.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Dale October 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

Kettlebells are superior to dumbells for the same reason that barbells are superior to machines and dumbells are superior to barbells — they require the user to stabilize inherently instable movements by coordinating all his muscle groups — especially the secondary stabilizer muscles that come into play during real-world labor, sport, and combat activities.

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Thomas July 12, 2011 at 1:46 am

Wow. What a load of baloney.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I lol’d. More stabilizer worship.

Plus the idea the kettlebells are more unstable than dumbbells, which would only be true if you had them horns-down.

BRB deadlifting dumbbells because barbell is inferior due to its lack of stabilizerz

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Frank Rumbauskas September 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Thank you for posting this. It was brought to my attention after I posted a similar article about the dangers and stupidity of kettlebell “training.”

I’m no fitness guru, just a regular guy who spends a fair amount of time in the gym to stay in great shape. And I’ve noticed that the mail-order personal trainers who work in my gym do kettlebell swings with every client, every day.

The result?

Plenty of injuries. Little real results.

I haven’t read the 60+ comments on this post, but if your experience is anything like mine, it’s full of profane and hateful comments from “mall ninja” type of fake-tough-guy “personal trainers” and “fitness gurus” who are all ripping people off with their kettlebell nonsense and can’t stand the fact that someone had the courage to call them out. At the end of the day, the basics will always be the best. The exotic crap invented by these mail-order personal trainers are gimmicks to keep clients paying hourly instead of training on their own, and kettlebells are just another crap gimmick from their bag of tricks.

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Thomas September 20, 2010 at 4:34 am

Hi Frank, thanks for the comment.

I’d hesitate to go so far as to say kettlebell people get “little real results”. The sort of results you get from a typical DragonDoor-style kettlebell workout aren’t as readily apparent to the casual observer as those you get from adding 20 pounds of muscle mass. But muscular endurance is still a result worth getting. Some might say it’s more useful to us in our modern lives than increased muscle mass will ever be.

Of course, as I’ve said over and over, you can get the same results more safely with a dumbbell workout, so it’s pointless and risky to use a kettlebell. The people who buy the kettlebell hype hook, line, and sinker don’t know any better.

if your experience is anything like mine, it’s full of profane and hateful comments from “mall ninja” type of fake-tough-guy “personal trainers” and “fitness gurus” who are all ripping people off with their kettlebell nonsense and can’t stand the fact that someone had the courage to call them out.

I delete a lot of the mean-spirited comments. Sometimes I’m tempted to let one or two remain, just because they’re so outrageous they’re entertaining.

It’s an interesting phenomenon: that people who are ‘certified’ as kettlebell instructors by an internet marketing company seem to believe they deserve an elevated level of respect among fitness enthusiasts. You don’t see the same delusions of grandeur among, for instance, p90x affiliates or MMA instructors. As I mention in my article, the behavior of many ‘kettlebell instructors’ is right out of the playbook of martial arts franchises during the 1980s and 1990s. This behavior is now ridiculed in the context of martial arts, but it’s still going strong among kettlebell zealots.

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steve September 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm

kettlebells are not and have never been banned by the british military.They are in fact becoming increasingly popular,especially among elite units, for the superb results they give.Dont believe everything people tell you!!!

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm

If they haven’t been banned by the British military, we should really look into who started this meme.

There’s this post by a “parker1″ on Dr. Darden’s site from 2005 saying this: http://www.drdarden.com/readTopic.do?id=409287&pageNo=1

“While the Soviet military allegedly used kettlebells for ballistic training in place of pushups, etc., the British military banned their use due to a horribly high injury rate.”

If this is an outright lie, I’d like to find out who started it, or if it’s based on good-natured misunderstanding.

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Dave March 1, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Thank you so much for this article.

A couple of months ago I bought myself a kettlebell and have been working out with it regularly. I have to admit I have been enjoying the results although it has all been fat loss – my muscles have not increased in size at all. I have been slowly falling prey to the kettlebell hype and believing I have been experiencing results but really, the only comments I ever get from people are “Jeez, you’ve lost a hell of a lot of weight, are you not eating?!” Obviously, when weight training, that is not the kind of comments you want to hear.

Anyway, thank you so much. Tomorrow is pay day and I am off to buy myself a pair of decent dumbells.

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Thomas May 6, 2011 at 6:59 am

What is with all the folks coming here and lecturing me that “MMA pros use kettlebells”?

Please — before you post something silly like that — learn to distinguish between marketing hype and reality.

  • Just because George St. Pierre takes money to endorse a fitness plan doesn’t mean that plan is how he became a good athlete. I guarantee GSP never touched a kettlebell when he was coming up.
  • Just because famous football player Terrell Owens takes money to endorse giant rubber bands doesn’t mean that’s how he became the NFL’s strongest wide receiver.
  • Just because famous skiier Lindey Vonn takes money to hold a can of Red Bull after every victory doesn’t mean that’s what she actually drinks.
  • Get the picture?

Fighting is my sport. I train at an MMA gym and a boxing gym. There are no kettlebells in our gyms. My guys would destroy anyone who based his training on kettlebells. Because kettlebells don’t deliver real-world results in the competitive world of athletics. They’re fine for people who mess around in a fitness program, but for training towards an objective goal, kettlebells are counterproductive.

Kids: stick to the time-tested ways of training used by successful athletes. Don’t be seduced by marketing hype.

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Matt HKC August 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm

It’s quite obvious you never really trained correctly with kettle bells. I am not a kettle bell nuthugger, but to say they are garbage is completely idiotic. The results speak for themselves.

Also, your MMA gym is most likely a great gym, but adding kettlebell training would only enhance results not detract.

The idea of kettlebells is to perfect movement. Not exhibit brute strength. In my opinion they are a perfect complement to traditional strength training. Also, you never need to waste time on a treadmill or stair stepper gain. Using a Tabata or Ladders with KB’s give you all the cardio you need and more.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Matt, while you can get cardio by doing compound freeweight complexes, could we not just as easily get that cardio by doing dumbbell complexes as doing them with kettlebells?

Not to mention, I don’t think kettlebells replace sprints/treadmills, there’s something to be said of practicing standard locomotion.

In this blue post you reply to, the word ‘garbage’ doesn’t get used, so not sure why you write “to say they are garbage”. Again with the ‘idiotic’. How idiotic is it to call someone an idiot for saying something they never said?

Also, while ‘perfecting movement’ is a nice goal, isn’t that what MMA athletes are doing in their skill training? Balancing on a swiss or a bosu is also ‘perfecting movement’. As is fencing, or playing tennis. Does that mean this is what athletes should be doing to build raw physical attributes to play their sports with?

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Mark May 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm

If some of the people who’ve posted comments here spent half as much time training as they do debating minutae on internet forums they’d probably be kettlebell Masters of Sport by now. ;)

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Mark May 7, 2011 at 2:48 am

After a second reading of the article I have to say that I can find nothing to disagree with, even as a die-hard kettlebell enthusiast.

They are not optimal for any task; for example, if you want to get strong, a barbell will work better. However, I have no great aspirations other than to have a high level of strength and fitness relative to untrained people. Kettlebells allow me to improve a wide range of physical qualities in an efficient, minimalist way–this fits right in with my natural laziness and inability to program anything more complex than a VCR. Also, they’re fun!

I’m currently clean-and-jerking bodyweight (approx. 80kg) for reps, and that’s plenty strength and endurance for most things outside of competitive athletics. I suspect that the most successful athletes base their weights work around heavy barbell basics and anything else is icing on the cake.

Let’s put one thing into perspective: Mr. Logan’s unfortunate accident is just that–an unfortunate accident. If there were scores of people breaking their arms with kettlebells, then I’d perhaps view it as something more statistically significant, but until that point it doesn’t make sense to ascribe any particular blame to kettlebells. Mr. Logan is clearly still upset about his accident (understandably), and it saddens me that some of his detractors have failed to take this into account, instead choosing to brand him an ‘idiot’. It should, however, give kettlebell users a reminder to exercise caution, and I would agree that kettlebells are inherently more dangerous than traditional, barbell and dumbell-oriented training and this should be stated more. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

The one area where kettlebells really shine is in preparation for–drum roll–kettlebell sport. This is a worthy goal in itself and produces some impressive athletes.

Mr. Logan, I sincerely hope you are able to recover to the point where you are able to do the activities you enjoy doing. Good luck.

Regards all.

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Sylas May 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Kettlebells are an incredibly valuable addition to any arsenal. That said, kettlebells are not the end all be all of weight training, but neither are barbells and dumbells. To me, this article made little to no sense and made only one point; kettlebells are pricey. I hate that people feel the need to dump all over anything THEY dislike whatever the reason be.

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Thomas May 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Kettlebells are an incredibly valuable addition to any arsenal.

No, they’re really not. Basically, they’re on par with milk jugs filled with concrete. Barbells or dumbbells are much more valuable additions to your ‘arsenal’.

I hate that people feel the need to dump all over anything THEY dislike whatever the reason be.

Such irony.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Thomas, I like milk jugs filled with concrete. When I empty a plastic jug of kitty litter, I use it as a rowing weight =)

One thing: even though you can row with dumbbells and they’re good when you lack clearance to get full arm extension, the offset weight of handled things is good for rowing form.

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Rannoch June 1, 2011 at 7:41 am

Comparing Kettlebell training with Dumbell and barbell training is like comparing rugby and soccer. They both involve teams and balls but they are very different activities.

One is not better than the other. The point at which training becomes a political exercise…well, it stops be exercise.

Everything has it’s place. Yes, even Zumba. It is all well and good to write a piece like this to get people talking but in reality the talk will be predictable and partisan.

I train with bells, bars, bags, clubs, ropes, tyres, body weight and combatives. If I spent any time comparing the relative benifits rather than realising them through actual practice i would be nothing but another training tourist.

Don’t confuse methods with principles. And more importantly, remember, just cos a particular system suits you, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for someone else.

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Rannoch June 1, 2011 at 8:18 am

Hey John (Logan), I am sorry to hear about your injury. I must say, it is the only occasion I have heard of someone breaking their forearm using kettlebells. I think you were incredibly unlucky. I am 160lbs and havethe forearms of a 14 year old girl. That said, I have happily snatched a 32 kg bell for reps without any discomfort or distress.

No question, when strength is approached as a skill it is a much healthier and safer pursuit.

Rannoch

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killerbell June 24, 2011 at 8:06 am

Kettlebells and dumbbells have their own respective place in fitness. For me, I enjoy Kettlebell workout but there are times where I’m getting tired of KB and this is the time I switch to dumbbells. One good benefit of KB is the flexibility you’ll get when training with it.

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Aaron June 25, 2011 at 2:47 am

Hi Thomas,

I found your blog doing a search for overtraining and the title of this post caught my eye.
First let me say you’ve got quite a pair of balls because the, as you put it “kettlebell zealots” are a very passionate group and as I’ve witnessed they have came out in droves to defend their favored piece of equipment. Which is what a kettlebell is- a PIECE of EQUIPMENT!! A rather primitive piece of weight equipment which I think might be part of the appeal for some people.

As far as the ACE study that was referenced, it did not compare doing the workout using a kettlebell versus the same workout using a dumbbell of equal weight. So the study was basically about the caloric burn of doing a high rep snatch workout, so no credit is due to the kettlebell from that.

I agree there is way too much marketing hype about kettlebells. Reading some of the copy will make a beginner, regardless of their reason for working out, think it’s the greatest piece of exercise equipment ever made. I have tried them, even own 2 pairs (which I will be selling) and can see how some people can enjoy using them, for fitness and conditioning. But since the emphasis of this site is rather clear in the name “skinny bulk up” I will agree that a skinny guy wanting to get bigger is better off investing in a set of Powerblocks or a gym membership and focusing on compound muscle-building lifts rather than the moves that kettlebells are best known for.

I may not agree 100% with everything you’ve stated but I enjoyed reading this and getting a bit of a history lesson. My personal preference is dumbbells and barbells over kettlebells especially for gaining mass and strength but I do see how kettlebells can be used for conditioning and fitness.

One more thing, I can’t believe you did not include the “cannon ball with a handle” reference that is on just about every kettlebell site on the web!

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Thomas September 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm

One more thing, I can’t believe you did not include the “cannon ball with a handle” reference that is on just about every kettlebell site on the web!

Many kettlebell sites are affiliate marketing sites. That is, they try to capture leads for, and drive traffic to, merchant sites that sell things like kettlebells and related equipment, kettlebell literature and DVDs, and/or kettlebell “certifications”.

Some of the owners of these affiliate sites are passionate about kettlebells. But many are interested mainly in making numerous low-quality (spam) websites that earn a bit of money each month (with hopes that every little bit adds up to a useful income).

Unfortunately, the affiliates rarely make enough money to cover their efforts. Usually, the only ones making any real money are the merchants. The hundreds or thousands of near-spam affiliate sites that clog the search engine results pages are a manufactured social proof that still works very well (even if much of what run of the mill affiliate marketers routinely do has been made illegal by the FTC).

Therefore, it’s counterproductive for most builders of affiliate websites to take the time (or pay the money) to publish high-quality, informative articles. Rather, they regurgitate marketing copy that’s been written for them by the merchants.

That’s why so many kettlebell sites seem like clones of each other.

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Joey Mohr July 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

I saw kettlebells on sale cheap at Marshall’s and was headed back out there today to get them, but I am so glad I googled Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells and found your article! No wonder they’re on clearance at Marshall’s. I will stick to dumbbells. Also, the person who commented that MMA fighters are the best all around athletes – I agree, but who uses kettlebells? I’ve closely followed the training of Georges St. Pierre and have never known him to touch one.

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Nathan August 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

This is an excellent article. Kettlebells are a nice additional tool for training – nothing more, nothing less.

Source: I have masters degrees in exercise science and physical therapy.

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Ed August 11, 2011 at 7:11 am

Thoughtful article.

When I was 36, I severely pulled my lower back muscles doing “good mornings” at 235 lbs without a weight belt, and I had never done any abdominal work. In 3 days, I was fully recovered.

Fast forward 18 years.

Injuries take much, much longer to heal. Moves I performed in my thirties and forties now carry a much higher risk in my 50′s. I only concern myself with what works for me. I’m sure kettlebells work for some people, just as any other mode of training would. However, I’m not taking any exercise advice from someone in their 20′s, 30′s and 40′s because they simply are not old enough to see the long-term impact of intense training on their joints.

At age 54, my goal is longevity and better overall health, not hefting the heaviest weight or trying to impress anyone. I’ve had numerous self-inflicted injuries over the years and the only one I’m an expert on is myself.

I’ll probably stay away from kettlebells. Not because they’re inherently much dangerous, but because my enthusiasm has always exceeded my skill and sense.

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Matt HKC August 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I think the author makes some good points when considering someone that has decided to work out with kettle bells exclusively and rebukes all other methods. I train with both and I have seen a synergistic relationship. Doing heavy swings (using the proper RKC hip hinging method) has dramatically increased my power on Barbell Squats and Dead Lifts. Also, the attention to detail, like breathing, exploding at the right time and focusing on unilateral movement to fix any neural or strength imbalances is invaluable when going back to dumbbells and barbells.

Also, to say no pro athletes use kettlebells is asinine. Hordes of MMA fighters use them because it is far more practical and better for functional movement. Clay Guida has seen marked improvements in his fight results since working with Zar Horton RKC.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

If Clay Guida is so concerned with function why doesn’t he cut his hair? =/

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Bernie September 14, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I recently purchased a 35lb kettlebell. I immediately had to purchase a pair of forearm guards. The bell actually hurt rubbing into the back of my forearm. There is also a lot of strain on my hands and wrist. I’m sticking with my barbells.

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Garett September 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Thanks for posting this. I have been very unimpressed with the kettlebell experience and culture. I removed kettlebells from my exercise arsenal a while ago. I experiment with everything and won’t bother with them again. Better to train with bodyweight, strands, barbells, dumbbells. If you want an alternative that won’t break the bank try sandbags. Much more versatile, effective, and safe. The T-bar and dumbbells will allow all the few necessary kettlebell exercises to be done. Girveks can have their avoidable injuries and mediocre results.

If you want cardio, swimming, a good hike oudoors, and cycling are far safer. Injuries from stupid methods like the Kettlebell and Crossfit Koolaid crowd put your progress in reverse.

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Randy September 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I’m 46 yrs. old and have lifted weights for 23 yrs. I could lift a lot , the routine bench press, curls, variations of these exercises are good but doesn’t compare to the function strength you can get from KB lifting. Now if you have injury yourself from KB lifting yours not stupid you just made a mistake with lifting techique. How many times have you seen someone get hurt from lifting weights? You can’t use getting hurt with KB as an excuse not for using them, yes you have to be carefull with them but if your not carefull with weightlifting you can also hurt yourself. The people discreating KB lifting are using they will hurt you as an excuse not to lift them. I have lifted them for 5 yrs. and never been hurt and I lift heavy i.e. 88lb snatches. But I have hurt my back from barbell squats and it was from bad techique. Any find of wrong lifting will hurt you KB

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Sifter November 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Hey, (putting on flame retardant suit).. who likes Hindu Squats? :)

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Greta December 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

This is rediculous! This person hates kettlebells because he lost focus and hurt himself! PERIOD. Because of this he thinks dumbells are better??? Are you saying it is impossible to drop a dumbell on your foot and shatter the bones in your foot? Seriously dude! In my own experience in the past year I’ve mixed it up by doing Jillian’s 30 day shred and kettlebell every other day. Lost 30 lbs and about 20 inches and im sure I have both types of workouts to thank for that. However, as of Oct., 2011 I started using strictly kettlebell to see what all the hype was and wanted to try that alone for 1 year to compare my results. It has only been 2 months today and I cannot believe how my body is transforming from my kettlebell alone. I look better right now than I ever have. I am even getting sculpted forearms!!! It’s not bulking me up..I’M SHRINKING and getting all sculpted at the same time ;) so FOR ME, the kettlebell is a miraculous piece of iron! I will never do any other form of excersise. Sorry about your accident but as others have stated you have to do your research and make sure your form is good! Very important. An injury like yours can happen with any piece of heavy excersise equipment. I really don’t think your comment even has anything to do with the article topic ‘kettlebells vs dumbells’. People are here debating which is better, which is more effective and you come in saying the dumbell is better because you lost focus for a split second and let your kettlebell hit your forearm. I can only share my great success and my own experience with kettlebells..really can’t compare to dumbells I just know what the ‘bells are doing for me :) . Hope my comment helps someone that’s trying to find info and trying to decide on using kettlebells.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Greta, the comments regarding dropping a kettlebell on your foot and breaking your foot were related to the sport of juggling them.

He was not advocating juggling dumbbells as an alternative.

In fact I think he said kettlebells are more suited to juggling. Just that juggling is still dangerous and the KB community shouldn’t be promoting it.

” It’s not bulking me up..I’M SHRINKING and getting all sculpted at the same time”

Oh dear god. Women. I plead to a woman out there, reply with something to make me less of a sexist for reading things like this. It’s bad enough you have those pink 5lb breast cancer kettlebells.

If these women’s kettlebell sets weren’t taking up space at my local Wal-mart I bet they’d be selling trap bars there by now.

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Greta March 17, 2012 at 2:35 am

@Tyciol…
“Oh dear god. Women. I plead to a woman out there, reply with something to make me less of a sexist for reading things like this. It’s bad enough you have those pink 5lb breast cancer kettlebells.

If these women’s kettlebell sets weren’t taking up space at my local Wal-mart I bet they’d be selling trap bars there by now.”

First of all, Tyciol, I address you since you like arguing with EVERYONE that disagrees with this article and EVERYONE that uses kettlebells, since you feel the need to answer for Thomas :) and since you addressed your sexist statements in your comment to me. Why don’t you step away from the keyboard really quick and do a few 1 minute sets of swings or snatches with a 50+lb dumbbell and do the same with the same size kettlebell ..see which one is more difficult, which has your heart thumping, which one leaves you more exhausted, which ones leaves you with sweat dripping down your face ;) The weights distributed differently in the two my friend! There are SOOO many videos and articles stating all of the benefits of kettlebells, how can you underestimate their effectiveness, or try to make people that actually use them on this site, look like fools by making jokes? Have you ever used one? I bet not, and yes the above statements you’ve made ARE very sexist. How do you know what size kettlebells us ‘women’ posting on here are using? Me, I’ve personally never owned a 5lb kettlebell, nor are mine pink. Ive never used a 10 either, for that matter, or a 15. I started with a 20 (recommended weight for a ‘woman’ to start with) and I now also use a 35. Now I’m not using kettlebells for muscle mass. My comment on this post was to give someone, like myself, hope that the kettlebell is very beneficial in fat loss..incase that’s what they’re searching the internet for, like I was and incase they come across this article, like I did! I was just trying to (and I even stated so) let WOMEN know that yes, kettlebells are very beneficial if you want to burn tons of fat and develop lean muscle/toning. (thanks Dave, your comment inspires me) No need to be putting women down. This article wasn’t intended for only big body building men looking to bulk up to comment on. It was about Kettlebells being inferior to Dumbbells. Which is so far from the truth. As many say, each serve their own purpose.. All depends on what results you’re looking to achieve! Thanks :)

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Shannon December 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

“Ask yourself this? Did top athletes spend their early years learning how to manipulate a kettlebell? The answer is no.”

This guy used kettlebells, you might have heard of him. Lance Armstrong, he won the Tour De France a few times. No big deal.

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-12-03/sports/17911923_1_johan-bruyneel-cycling-lance-armstrong

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Thomas December 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Are you kidding me? I’d be willing to bet Lance Armstrong never even touched a kettlebell before that goofy Men’s Health magazine article.

I guarantee he doesn’t “use” kettlebells — especially for athletics training — because if he did, he would be an idiot. And he’s obviously not an idiot. He obviously trains with barbells and dumbbells, just like every other successful athlete. And those are the tools he — along with every other successful athlete — used to get him to the top of his game.

I freely give the same advice to you as I give to everyone: learn to distinguish between marketing hype and reality.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

BRB using kettlebells to win a cycling competition.

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Steve December 26, 2011 at 10:27 am

Very opinionated article. And really that’s all it is, one guys opinion who doesn’t train with kettlebells. You claim that kettlebells don’t make you stronger, yet i can snatch a dumbbell of the same weight as I can with a kettlebell, and prior to training kettlebells I never snatched anything. But according to you I should only be able to snatch kettlebells because kettlebell training only makes you good at training with kettlebells. Heavy kettlebell swings have also helped me with my deadlifts, both power and form. Also if you bruise from a kettlebell snatch you’re doing it wrong. I will agree there is a lot of hype right now, and a lot of bullshit out there, but that goes with anything. Kettlebells CAN be used alone depending on your goals. But not everyone has the same goals. To call them useless is stupid. The kettlebell is a tool just like the dumbell is a tool. Use it right and youll get results. I use them in my routine along with barbells and dumbells. I’m not a body builder and have no desire to be. The fact is I’m stronger, more explosive, and more flexible/agile since incorporating them into my routine, with many strength gains carrying over to my traditional lifts.

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Thomas December 31, 2011 at 2:33 am

Very opinionated article. And really that’s all it is, one guys opinion who doesn’t train with kettlebells

You fail to understand the meaning of the word “opinion”… Just like you fail to recognize that your absurd comment is a perfect example of irony.

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Tyciol January 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Steve: “according to you I should only be able to snatch kettlebells because kettlebell training only makes you good at training with kettlebells.”

Please tell me where Thomas said anything like that.

I think it’s yet another straw man argument directed at him.

His argument seems moreso that it’s such a dangerous skill-intensive move, that in the time you were training to clean a 60lb kettlebell, you could probably be snatching a 100lb dumbbell. Which, y’know, wouldn’t give you the ability to snatch a 100lb kettlebell, but who cares?

Let’s use an example with presses: if I trained to bench press a pair of 40lb kettlebells upside down, I’d clearly have no problem benching a pair of 40lb dumbbells, or an 80lb barbell. But in the amount of time it took me to develope that skill, I could probably be pressing a pair of 50 or 60lb dumbbels, or a 130lb barbell, and be much stronger and muscular as a result.

“if you bruise from a kettlebell snatch you’re doing it wrong”

If you fall off the swiss ball when you’re doing a pistol squat standing on it, you’re also doing it wrong.

That doesn’t mean it’s a movement that’s equally good though.

Part of what makes some moves good is: they’re harder to do wrong. Something that’s easy to do wrong (such as these kettlebell snatches) isn’t an inherently good lift.

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Gavin December 29, 2011 at 10:18 am

As a sprint coach I find KB swings and snatch provide a hip snap that is extremely transferable to sprinting and very unique.

With the primary focus on hip snap, and supplemented with the skill/balance/core conditioning that also comes from these exercises I would say they provide excellent transferable training for high level sprint development.

I also do barbell Olympic lifts where the focus is on strength/power rather than speed/power with the KBs.

Interesting article though.

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Thomas December 31, 2011 at 2:30 am

Assuming you have a fully-equipped training facility, why use kettlebells for the snatches (and swings) instead of dumbbells or barbells? In your experience, do your athletes get more benefits from kettlebell snatches as compared to dumbbell snatches? People have been doing db swings and db snatches for as long as I can remember, but kb’s gained attention only in the last decade or so, thanks to the hype and info on the internet. Thanks for the info and comments.

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Gavin January 10, 2012 at 5:39 am

More compact weight I suppose is the reason for using KBs rather than DB’s, you can get the swing through your legs without worrying about injury.

I appreciate there is the issue of the KB swinging over and hitting your forearm at the top of the lift, this is always the number 1 complaint when learning the lift. As you learn the technique this becomes less of an issue, but yes it is a factor especially with younger less developed athletes.

This is the first winters training where I’ve added in KB lifts, so will see the results in the summer. With the 100m/200m athletes the emphasis is more on Olympic lifts supplemented with KB’s… with the 200m/400m athletes the emphasis has been mainly on KB’s.

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Ash December 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I hope I am not too late to the party. But I found this article and the subsequent debate quite interesting.

I started using kettlebells about 5 years ago. Not so much as I believed they were the end all-be all of training. But because I lived in an apartment and needed a workout I could do at home with the time constraints of work, night school and being a new father.

For about two years, I used the kettlebells exclusively. I noticed that I did feel fitter and stronger in a more GPP way. My strength increased rapidly as I moved to 16kg to 24kg to 28kg (and 32kg for some lower rep work) in the first couple of months which I attribute to neuromuscular adaptation and the shift from horizontal pressing motion to now almost exclusively vertical pressing with kettlebells. I did not become noticeably more muscular or leaner but my weight was very stable and I noticed some differences in strength in daily activities like lifting a heavy ac unit of the ground or an obese neighbour into her wheelchair. I never injured myself or felt that I nearly injured myself.

In time, however, I moved out of the apartment and bought a house. I had more space. I started to feel that kettlebells were a great a minimalist workout but the focus on momentum in the snatch and swing meant there was little “time under tension” and I wanted to see more muscular development for my effort. So I added more barbell workouts. In terms of cardio, I felt my Concept II rower was easier to
calibrate interval workouts and track progress. So the advantages of kettlebells – its ability to hold the middle ground – now becames less important as I found training implements that better meet my new training objectives. I still kept at least one kettlebell workout per a week as I found kettlebells with the ability to rack are great for front squats and presses but now it’s part of a more varied mix. I am less wedded to any one implement and I find this is working better for me at this point in time.

So I guess I am subscribing to the middle ground among all these comments. If I was stuck at my in-laws over the holidays and could only pack one exercise item in my car, I am pretty sure a 24kg or 28kg kettlebell would be my choice. However, at home where I have more training options, the kettlebell might be 20% of my training as I think it trains some aspects of motion and movement for me in a convenient manner at home. It would not be my primary choice for bulking up a skinny person even if one skews the reps, sets, exercises etc towards the hypertrophy as the “one handedness” of kettlebells necessarily reduces the loading compared to the heavy barbell exercises like squats and bench presss. Not saying it couldn’t be done, of course, but it would be like having to eat my pudding with a fork when a spoon is available.

I still receive the DD mailing material. When I read the ever expanding areas where kettlebells is now considered essential in the DD advertorial material, I am always reminded of that saying “when all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail”.

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Alex January 18, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Call me crazy,but I like both KB’s and DB’s for different reasons.I do think KB’s are inherently more dangerous due to the ballistic nature of some of the major exercises,but the majority of injuries come from bad form just like any other exercise.As far as which one is better,I think it comes down to your fitness goals and personal preferences,and trying to say otherwise without detailed and accurate scientific evidence is just a waste of time.The KB is far from useless and ineffective,but at the same time it’s not the miracle solution for an iron physique,it’s just one exercise tool and should be treated as one part of a system just like dumbbells or any other type of training.I’ve seen the best results from a combo of barbells,dumbbells,kb’s,indian clubs,progressive calisthenics,stretching,and boxing/MMA training…and I honestly doubt using any of these methods in a singular method would have given me the results using them in conjunction has.

I’m sure some people disagree with this statement,but I honestly don’t care.This opinion has been formed over years of personal experience and only applies to me,not anyone else.Some people can do the same things as me and come to a drastically different conclusion,yet neither of us are wrong because it comes down to personal preference based on the things you’ve experienced.The bottom line is do what feels best for you and gives you the best results for what you want.Some people loath the idea of swinging a cannonball around,while other people love it,but there’s no need to insult or degrade someone because of this.If someone has fitness goals,and they’re using a tool to meet those goals and are happy doing so,that’s all that really matters,regardless of what form that tool may take.

No matter what method of exercise you use,stay healthy and safe and keep focusing on your goals.Sadly,people choose to fight over whether X is better than Y instead of being supportive of one another and enjoying the fact that we’re all working towards a common goal.

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Steve Labo January 25, 2012 at 6:34 am

At 51 I aspire to workout with weights someday. My brother’s fiancé took KB training and therefore I’m educating myself a bit. Regarding safety, it seems to me that some posters are missing the concept of RISK MANAGEMENT which is ingrained in motorcycle riders, hang gliders and other action activities. It seems clear that slinging a heavy weight around the body implies a possibility of injury regardless of missing warnings in the literature. The fact that KBs have relatively poor ergonomics could increase injury risk while concurrently facilitate physiological adaptability which in turn could yield various benefits. From a safety perspective, I would approach any type of weight lifting, and Kbs in particular, with the same attitude I have brought to motorcycling and paraglidergliding – that is, a keen awareness of risk management, a subdued ego and as much formal training as possible.

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Santiago January 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm

wouldn’t a thick handle be better for you so you can gain grip strength ??? you would have to lift a little less weight but eventually you would work your way back up , and would the grip 4orce be a good idea to use?? or fat gripz

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Jan February 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

I agreee that the hype is too much and at points a but uninformative, specially since the risks are usually not mentioned, but I do feel that this article is overly negative in how it considers kettlebells. I have a few points and questions when comparing to dumbbells.

The snatch – I can understand that the dumbbell is better here. A more stable snatch while the kettlebell snatch has a risk of overextending your elbow, and I have also noticed that it tears at my elbow when I bring the kettlebell down – I imagine that in the long run this would definetly result in injury.

Clean and press – I would definetly imagine, however, that the kettlebell is superior here. Because you can rack it, which you cant do with a dumbbell. I love this particular exercise with kettlebells.

I understand your point that it is not good to train solely with kettlebells, but I don’t think that the kettlebell is completely obsolete, and with some exercises I would think it is superior to dumbbells.

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Tyciol February 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

Love how you posted http://rosstraining.com/blog/2008/12/31/homemade-t-handle-demonstration/ because Ross Enamait is cool.

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Michael K February 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Just recently started to try out the kettlebell exercises and I love them! but the author is completely right you can do almost the same exercises using a dumbell, some exercises might feel a little awkward and since the kettlebell is asymetrical it will produce a more natural swing but it nothing that you can’t overcome using dumbells. So there is nothing “magic” about the kettlebell in itself it is rather the type of exercise you doing with them. So anything with a mass will basically do just fine.

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Brian L February 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

These kettlebells are dangerous for your joints. If getting fit, and stay fit throughout life is a goal that you have in mind, then this isn’t a workout that is feasible to stay in good health. We all have common sense, and If you haven’t decided whether or not the kettlebell is the new workout experience for you then go to YouTube, and checkout KettleBell competitions, and you’ll notice something in common with everyone at the competition, They are wearing wrist bands to protect their wrists. Basically the same wrist equiment used by comitted bowlers that hurl around heavy weight. Now ask yourself, If i did this everyday from now until im 50+ will my wrists be ok or worn out. Keep in mind some people need knee replacements in their late 40′s and 50′s, and they haven’t even gone extreme.

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Tony b February 18, 2012 at 7:29 am

Interesting article. I dont agree with a majority of it but i do see the messaging you are trying convey. When i started working out, it was push ups and pull ups, then onto dumbells to barbells and now to kettlebells. I now use all of the above. My kettlebell work makes up about 30% of my workout while 50% goes to barbell and the rest is broken up with db and bw training. I do love my kb’s because it forces me to think about my training differently. Technique is always a learning factor with every tool, but kbs have really pushed me into overdrive just due to the nature of the thing. The off-center of gravity really does wonders to my strength, something a dumbell never did. Not to say dbs are inferior but if i was a kid looking to bulk up, id use dumbells in the beginning and i think thats a message you’re trying to convey in some sorts.
As far as injury, my biggest set back didnt come from kbs…nor dbs or bbs….it came from bw pullups and swinging a softball bat…both ruptured my bicep tendon and this was before kb training. I’d like to think that if i had been using kbs in some sort of fashion, id have avoided that injury but who knows.
Kids…to bulk up…learn to squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, clean and row with a barbell…do pushups, pullups and dips with body weight and drink your milk and eat your chicken and you will get strong like bull! As you progress start learning new methods of training, maybe kbs are in your future but always keep the basics in your life…

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Neil Kissel February 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I’m 52 years old and have used dumbells but they haven’t given me the results that kettlebells have I get a greatworkout in a short time and I have the results that I wanted. To just slam a way of working out is so counterproductive it doesn’t really make sense to me at all if you are happy using dumbells by all means use them and shut up.

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Thomas February 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm

You’re not very smart, are you Neil?

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ferg March 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm

you had me until you wrote stupid things about russia. the russian people are a great nation to belittle them like that is stupid and you lost the point of the article which up to that point was well argued.

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Thomas March 2, 2012 at 11:26 pm

What you need to do is educate yourself.

Start with this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation

Then, at your leisure, learn from these articles:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia#Soviet_Russia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Union
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia

Here’s an interesting quote for you to consider:

Physical culture should be seen not simply from the viewpoint of public health…but as a means of rallying the great mass of workers and peasants to the various party, Soviet and trade-union organizations, through which they can be drawn into social and political activity. Soviet party resolution published in 1925

There is a huge difference between the “Russian nation” and the Soviets. That you can’t understand this distinction is regrettable, to say the least.

In the 21st century, ignorance is fine but there’s no excuse for stupidity. Good luck Ferg!

PS – here are some other links which will help you ‘argue on the internet’ in the future:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stupidity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignorance
Ignorance – a lack of knowledge, the state of being uninformed
Stupidity – Willful ignorance, deliberate disregard for facts

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AttilaHun March 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I’ve been following these comments! The author obviously has lots of prejudices against kettlebells, but having stated the fact that he wants to help skinny guys gain muscle, it is totally understandable. Kettlebells build lean muscles, I can feel it even after 4 weeks of KB use. I used to do regular gym exercises, and built huge muscles. When I started doing KB, I immediately started to lose weight and lose all the mass I had gained. I found it scary, but soon I realised that the power that KB gives me is nothing like the power regular gym stuff can give me. I am faster, better-concentrated and have tons of extra free time. And when I chop wood or do digging in the garden, I can feel that my power has doubled.

AND! I am not rich and can’t afford to buy the regular RKC KB-s, so I bumped into some kind of fake KB in a sports shop! This is 16 kgs, has a kind of plastic surface and lower handles. So guess what! My RKC instructor says the only way to get stronger is by buying an original RKC and using that day by day. BUT! This much cheaper fake KB is far more beneficial! It doesn’t hurt my wrists or elbows and due to the deep handles, I can train every day, and there is no sensation of pain! I do feel pain when I use the original RKC, but this cheap stuff gives me power but no pain!

All in all, the author is right that it is no good for gaining mass, but by employing the right techniques and finding the most suitable equipment, you can really gain enormous strength. And yes, everything in moderation, this is absolutely true in this case, too!

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Thomas March 10, 2012 at 3:56 am

I realised that the power that KB gives me is nothing like the power regular gym stuff can give me. I am faster, better-concentrated and have tons of extra free time. And when I chop wood or do digging in the garden, I can feel that my power has doubled.

They make you strong like bull!

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Paulina March 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

The kettlebell marketing lies are worse than what you address in this article. They don’t just lie about kettlebells and kettlebell training, they lie about coaching too.

Kettlebell companies prey on poor people who are desperate for approval, financial security, and authority. They sell these people approval when they pay money to enter a tournament or take a class, they make promises of financial security when they say you can make money by ‘teaching kettlebells’ to other losers, and they promise authority by selling them a meaningless ‘degree’.

Some of these skinny losers pay over $5000 for this piece of paper that says they’re now a kettlebell coach.

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Brad March 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

This subject is kind of the same that Martial Arts went through years ago. What style of Martial Arts is the best? Well thanks to the UFC at first it seemed BJJ – then after fighters learned it you would soon see strikers beating BJJ fighters. It would be argued if you had to choose ONE only style – BJJ is probably the best one. BUT there is no need to choose one and to be the best Mixed Martial Art fighter you can be you have to learn them all to some extent.

So on to weight training. What is the best form of weight training? Probably power lifting with barbells. But why limit yourself to just that? Eventually if you are consistent you will hit plateaus – mixing up your routine with kettle bells, dumbbells, machines, resistant bands, body weight, etc. is a great way to keep your body developing

I enjoy kettle bells along with other forms of weight training – there is no reason to limit yourself to one form only.

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michael April 20, 2012 at 2:19 am

Thomas did u really think that lifting a dumbbell overhead is higher then kettlebell? What you showed in your article of an old man listing both as an example purely ignant. No it’s not a misspelling, ignorant is someone who does not know better and act stupid. Ignant willfully acts stupid and knows better.
The old man is not lifting the dumbbell higher, this an illusion. Look at the height of both of his wrists. They are the same. If the wrist starts from collar bone height and extended upwards, say long arm, 1 meter. The other wrist traveller the same length, thus both weights travelled the same distance. Same amount of work too to raise kettlebell and dumbbell.
Here is the catch, the kettlebell is uneven so it places greater stablization on Ur shoulders and forearms and core. Dumbbells are designed to have weight equally distributed so you can list more weight with it.
Let’s talk about adjustability, here Ur also being ignant. Dumbbells are not adjustable “aah shocker”! Adjustables are veal and so are the adjustable kettlbells. Unless u happen to come across the 1913 dumbbell which you could increment by .5lb to 101lb.
Seriously if you are gonna make comparisons, you might as well make knowledgeable ones. Do not under any circumstances, reach for straws, you will crash and burn, look ignant, and no one will take u seriously.
Why u ask I took this time to write this? Cause I was taking a potty. Ciao.

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Thomas April 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for your support. And yes, you’re wrong.

When you lift a dumbbell overhead, you lift the weight higher. This is because the center of gravity is in the hand, instead of below the hand as it is with a kettlebell. When I press a kettlebell, the center of gravity moves from right around shoulder level to around halfway up my forearm as my arm is extended overhead. When I press a dumbbell, it moves from shoulder level to the level of my hand as it’s pressed out overhead. That’s a significant increase in the distance I lift the weight, and it’s a significant increase in the work required to complete the lift. I’m surprised someone of your obvious intelligence isn’t aware of this simple fact.

Having established that you lift the center of gravity of a dumbbell higher than that of an equally-weighted kettlebell, this leads me to your baloney about “stabilizers”.

No, kettlebells don’t have some magical, esoteric effect on your “stabilizers” — whatever they may be.

In fact, the lower center of gravity shortens the lever arm (which is the distance between a force and a pivot point — the force is gravity acting on the center of mass of the k’bell and the pivot is the shoulder). Since the lever arm of a locked-out kettlebell is shorter than that of a locked-out dumbbell, there is less “stabilization” required to maintain the position. Kettlebells are easier to keep overhead.

So the bottom line is: it takes less work to press a kettlebell overhead (because the distance traveled is much shorter), and it’s easier to keep it locked out (because the lever arm is much shorter).

This talk about mysterious “stabilizers” is nothing more than marketing hype that comes right out of the DD marketing literature. It’s designed to pull the wool over the eyes of impulsive consumers.

Athletes are concerned with objective results, not subjective anecdotal marketing hype.

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Eugene June 3, 2012 at 12:48 am

“Athletes are concerned with objective results, not subjective anecdotal marketing hype.”

Interesting to hear that from you, to say the least. You have not provided any sources for your claims.

“I can assure you that no MMA athletes have ever used kettlebells nor has Lance Armstrong”

Have you talked to them? How about Lance? Sources please… And just so you know, Wikipedia does not count. Good luck on backing up your claims.

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Thomas June 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I’m fascinated that, of all the semi-controversial things I’ve written on this page, these simple, sensible statements are what compelled you to write a snarky comment. That’s peculiar and unexpected.

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Justin April 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I have 5 – 120 lb fixed dumbbells at home. I would never use adjustable dumbbells for the following reasons:
- Not heavy enough
- They often have moving parts
- They’re too long and unwieldy
- Some types have protruding bars on the ends
- Not as safe

I agree that dumbbells are far superior to kettlebells, but I think adjustable dumbbells are crap.

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CBustos RKC May 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm

You deleted my comment because you know i am right. HOw come you can talk smack about kettlebell training but when someone says something important about you you delete them? I have many years of experience with kettlebells and your wrong and don’t know it. Stick to telling little kids how to bench press and stop talking about kettlebells because they are the best overall fitness tool.

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Thomas May 3, 2012 at 1:49 am

No, you’re not right. I’m not a “retard”. And I deleted your ‘comment’ because it violated the comment policy. I have enough useless, insulting comments on this post; yours added nothing new or interesting.

I can talk about kettlebell training because it is a set of ideas, not a person. You see, that’s what the internet is about: ideas. And if you want your favorite ideas to be taken seriously, you have to back them up with some evidence. Shouting and banging on your chest doesn’t work on the internet. On the ‘net, people are swayed by logic and facts, not insults and long strings of capital letters.

Guess what? You don’t get to tell me what to ‘stick to…’. Since there is obviously something in this article that scares you, you are free to leave a comment that picks apart my argument so we can all learn something. You can’t just demand that other people stop talking about things you’re scared of. You don’t own the internet. Unlike the forum run by the corporation you represent, I don’t censor ideas on my forum. Instead, discuss them and, in most cases, I point out where kettlebell zealots have strayed away from logic and facts and resorted to fakery and hype.

Why don’t you pick out one thing from my article that you don’t agree with, and tell me how I got it wrong?

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Greg Comlish June 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm

“Once athletes got their hand(s) on adjustable dumbbells, there was no need for kettlebells, because dumbbells are superior in every way.”

Use the right tool for the right job. If you want max biceps then do bicep curls with dumbbells. If you want a to build serious muscular endurance then do interval training with snatches and swings with a kettlebell.

If there are any naive readers out there, please, please, please use your common sense: Do not use an adjustable dumbbell for swings. They are too wide, and the adjustable ones have extra hardware. Plus their moment of inertia makes them less stable during swings compounding the likelihood for injury.

I agree with criticisms of kettlebell hype and the showmanship of Pavel Tsatsouline. But to say “dumbells are superior to kettlebells in every way” is the same kind of hyperbolic drivel.

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Thomas June 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm

If you want a to build serious muscular endurance then do interval training with snatches and swings with a kettlebell.

Kettlebell snatches are a horrible exercise. Dumbbell snatches are much, much more effective. But not for muscular endurance; that would just be stupid. They’re for power training. Anyone who tells a young athlete to do kettlebell snatches is a charlatan or a sadist.

Dumbbells are perfect for one-handed swings. They’re much more suitable than kettlebells. Tip: turn the handle vertically. People have been doing this exercise for a century or more, and nobody ever thought about using a kettlebell until around 10 years ago.

Plus their moment of inertia makes them less stable during swings compounding the likelihood for injury.

This is baloney.

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Greg Comlish June 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm

How could anybody possibly argue with ironclad reasoning like “Kettlebell snatches are a horrible exercise. Dumbbell snatches are much, much more effective”?

Look, weight is weight. Mechanically the only differences between two weights of equivalent mass are the ergonomics of the grip and the moment of inertia. From a physical perspective that is it. There is nothing magical that happens when the weight is arranged into either two lumps that sit at the side of the hand or one lump that sits below the hand. That’s just basic physics.

When I’m doing snatches, I like my weight arranged so I don’t have to twist and contort my wrist to grip it or risk bashing my own knees. I like it when centrifugal force stabilizes the motion of the bell and keeps it inline with my arm during the swing. Those are my preferences and that’s why kettlebells work best for me.

Finally, it goes without saying that doing kettlebell swing and snatch intervals do a fine job improving muscular endurance as does any other form of HIIT training. Not really sure why you would even claim that it doesn’t since HIIT training has such an extensively established literature in sports science.

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Thomas June 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm

As with most religious zealots, you’re not swayed by facts. So I’ll repeat myself. Kettlebell “snatches” are a horrible exercise, useful for nothing. This page already has too many comments; I’m not going to re-write my article in a reply to your comment.

Look, weight is weight

A ridiculous statement. If that’s the case, why not work out with a milk-jug filled with concrete like I used to do when I was a little kid? Either the implement doesn’t matter, or it does. Your comment seems to suggest both possibilities. I assure you the implement does matter. It matters a lot.

Mechanically the only differences between two weights

Your worship of the kettlebell has completely blinded you to the human element. It starts with the person, not the weight. Because after all, we’re not swinging the kettlebell around as nothing more than a religious ritual the way a priest swings a censer. Rather, we’re swinging it to presumably get some physical benefit. And as I’ve demonstrated in the article, it’s impossible to get under the kettlebell in the way you can get under a barbell or dumbbell. And that makes it impossible to snatch. And if it’s impossible to snatch, it’s worthless for power training and terrible for pure max strength training.

When I’m doing snatches…

Yeah, that’s just the thing. You’re not doing snatches if you use a kettlebell. You’re doing some goofy, bastardized combination of a swing and a push-press.

doing kettlebell swing and snatch intervals do a fine job improving muscular endurance

Exercises used by professionals do a much, much better job of getting results.

that’s why kettlebells work best for me

Great! But you’re not really making the claim that kettlebells are better for a muscular endurance workout than dumbbells, are you? Because that would be silly.

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Greg Comlish June 26, 2012 at 11:22 am

As with most religious zealots, you’re not swayed by facts. So I’ll repeat myself.

So here you are calling people ‘religious zealots’ and using ad hominem attacks against your detractors. Why? {…snipped stupidity…}

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Thomas July 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Too long, didn’t read. Snipped 95% of it. But when you can honestly tell me that you’ve ever, in your entire life, done an actual snatch with heavy weight, then maybe you’ll have something to talk about here.

See, the problem with religious zealots lie you is they have a limited worldview that focuses on an object of adoration rather than on actual human beings. And frankly, they know as much about physics as they do about physical training (which is to say, not much). And this limited worldview makes them very susceptible to scams and hype. So they talk and talk about things they’ve never experienced first-hand, like snatches. And they’re much more likely to perpetrate and perpetuate scams, like telling people to do the very worst exercise ever invented — ‘kettlebell snatches’ — because they don’t want that worldview to change. They intentionally restrict their access to real-world information — like facts about what real athletes do, and why — and stick to religious dogma. So when something comes up that doesn’t fit into their view — like an article that’s dismissive of their religion — they fill in the blanks with erroneous baloney (such as making baseless claims that swings will bash your knees or snatches are a great ‘muscular endurance’ exercise).

Rather than investigating things for themselves and drawing their own conclusions, they spout untested dogma that runs counter to the real-world experiences of every professional athlete on the face of the planet.

But the good news is, many of them come crawling back here a year or two later and email me to tell me that they were wrong.

News flash: it’s not an ad hominum “attack”. After all, there’s no hominum there to “attack”. Rather, it’s just words on a page. And Greg, you think you’re a clever troll, but you’re not clever. Rather, you’re ignorant. You condemn yourself with your own words.

Here’s an example: Your ridiculous claim that the reason you’re writing snarky comments here is because you’re worried that some young, impressionable kid will bash his knee with a dumbbell during a set of swings. The truth is: you’ve never seen anyone do swings except with a kettlebell. Because if you had, you’d know that bashing the knee(s) is impossible. Unless you think there are folks out there doing swings on the rolling deck of an ocean vessel, or in the midst of a violent earthquake, there is no possible way that you can believe a weight will magically move sideways against gravity and hit someone’s knee. You’re not a crazy person, are you? Weights just don’t mysteriously translate normal to gravity. You’ve never seen this, and you don’t know anyone who has. Yet, you spout the ridiculous religious dogma that was created specifically by marketers at DD to counter the issues raised by my web page. This dogma was written for you by con-men, marketers, and web copywriters, rather than by athletes or coaches. That’s why I know you’re a religious zealot: because there’s no other reasonable explanation for the words you chose to write here on this page.

Here’s another example of your religious zealotry: Your claim that k’bell snatches are the best muscular endurance exercise for you. Kettlebell snatches are probably the worst exercise ever invented. But you wouldn’t know that because you have no experience with other movements used by real athletes and fitness enthusiasts. You’re completely ignorant of real, proven movements like dumbbell snatches or barbell clean and jerk, but you come to my web page and advise novices to do kettlebell snatches. So how would you know that k’bell snatches are the best movement for you or anyone else? Have you tested other workouts? I know the answer, and that’s why I laugh at fols like you — the ‘useful idiots’ who worship the kettlebell. Rather than open your eyes and observe what every successful athlete in the history of the world is doing or has done, you pathetically repeat the kettlebell catechism that was written for you by marketing copywriters.

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shane September 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I wanted to buy Kettebells about 5 years ago and then I found adjustable dumbbells and never bought any. I wanted to start doing swings for core and glutes and bought the T bar that you can make for 10 dollars at Lowe’s. Like the writer says you can turn the Dumbell vertical to do swings and it works just as good. Builds better grip strength as well by squeezing the top of the dumbell that is Hex Head. I have a 50, 75, 100lb Dumbell Hex Head and I really didn’t need to spend all that money on Kettlebells. What made me decide to not purchase Kettlebells is when I read that Sig Klein and other old time strongmen got strong from Dumbell Pressses and Power Cleans. So all the recent hype about Old Time Stongmen using Kettlebells may be true but they used Dumbells as well. Personally I find the Dumbell Clean and Press to be the best upper body exercise for mass and strength for me just like Sig Klein said some 70 years ago.

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Michel Asselin September 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I read your article with much interest. I do train with kettlebells, and have done so for years; but must readily admit that your analysis provides much food for thoughts. (I have never taken classes, and do not belong to any certifying body. So I may be coming in from left field here. Part of the appeal was that the K-bell is something that I can keep in my locker, and play with on break and at lunch.)

Your comments about the marketing of kettlebells – a mostly over-the-internet phenomena- could make the core of an Internet Marketing class in the 21st century. Spot on.

This is required reading anybody who wants to get ‘into’ kettlebells; and it is where I would direct an acquitance who might be interested. (In some ways, it is a bit like the Apple-vs-Windows controversy).

Thank you for illustrating this.

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John Lee October 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm

You described me perfectly. Basically (like you), I want an all-in-one (i.e. at lunch workout, after work workout–stop at local park and bust out a good workout)), minimalist workout. I don’t want to support a cottage industry (kettlebell), by buying a whole set of them. I’ve asked enthusiasts to see if they could recommend one KB for my workout needs. (At most, I would buy two KBs–e.g. 2 35 lb. KBs.) Those enthusiasts tell me that I have to purchase a whole set, to meet fitness needs.

Anyway, I’m hoping you can prescribe one for me. I’m 5-9, 185 lbs, middle-aged but fit, and looking for an all-in-one workout tool for the needs I outlined. Thanks for your input! Anyone can reply too, BTW.

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jared coad December 31, 2012 at 9:43 pm

you could get away with one…presumably a 26kg?? 50ish lbs…you could do swings, snatches, clean and press, figure 8′s etc with that weight, you may have a bit of a strain on turkish getups, gunslingers (see youtube vids) but most of exercises you could either fit into the 50lb or work towards…Buy a cheap ass one at walmart, you got 30 days to beef up and return it for the next size, but if you wanted to do all exercises at same time frame you are going to need weights about 30lbs apart…ie 50 and 20…there are also adjustable kettlebells (I believe the bell adjusts from 5lbs to 20lbs) made, called powerbells endorsed by a NAVY SEAL, no pro athlete, but he is 3% bodyfat and can kill u in less than 5 seconds if needed to :)

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Phil October 3, 2012 at 3:45 am

The Olympic Lifts (i.e. Clean and Snatch) are one of the best movements to improve strength, as the movements allow larger weights to be moved at very fast speeds. The benefits of these exercises are not only removed by using Kettlebells (KB) instead of barbells, but the KB Clean and Snatch might be the most dangerous movement you’ll ever do in the weight room.

Ideally, Olympic lifts are performed with a barbell that spins as the athlete’s wrist turns over for the catch on the shoulders or above the head. When this barbell is replaced by a KB or a DB with a non-rotating sleeve, the shoulder muscles are at risk for strain as they must stabilize for the “unnatural” fall of the DB/KB at the end of the catch. The rapid stretching of these muscles and the forearm puts considerable stress on the elbow joint as well.

These problems are only compounded when the Olympic Lifts, centered on power development and technique mastery, are performed anytime over 5 repetitions as the 2 aforementioned goals are sacrificed to create injuries. If you’re training for power, use a barbell for Olympic lifts. If you’re training for strength endurance in the weight room, leave Olympic Lifts out of it.

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mark estkowski December 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Hi Guys, I used to work out with dumbellss and barbells in a gym, £60 amonth. 5 years that works out £3,600 and about 750 hours, . last year bought 2 kettlebells for £100 and worked out 75 hours. Now leaner , stronger, fitter, richer than ever been,. No longer have the sore knees,. back and shoulders I used to get. kettlebell workouts are fun rather than punishing drudgery. Use whatever works for you. KBs work for me . Mine are steel with excellent diameter grips. cheers .
Mark in the UK

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Danny Raf December 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

if you asked a Red Sox fan to write a blog about the New York Yankees,it would be something like the above,i will agree that they are expensive but then again so are olympic plates.

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Thomas December 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I get the feeling that you’re criticizing my argument; but you’re doing it without any facts, logic, or compelling analogical reasoning to back you up. That must be some new, hip way that kettlebellers score points on the ‘net. I wish I was as hip as you!

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jared coad December 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Wow….you are obviously intelligent and spent an astronomical amount of time doing your research so to speak. Problem with health and fitness industry as a whole is its all contradictory, research enough you can find a doctor to argue for or against any position.

Your basic premise is flawed severely however. One, to compare a kettlebell to an adjustable dumbbell is the same as comparing an apple with a watermellon. There are adjustable kettlebells as well, maybe u should compare apples with apples next time. Second, because kettlebells are not a consistent weight (or uniform throughout “its not even”) you have to use more energy in holding, lifting and using them as compared with a traditional dumbbell, thats fact!!! I also find it funny that your site is seo optimized to come up in the seach results for kettlebells! Third, would you consider an MMA fighter a professional athlete? I would, and many if not all of them use kettlebells in their training. Fourth, the range of motion you can achieve with a kettlebell is longer than that of a dumbbell so certain exercises are better with kettlebells than with dumbbells, not to say that many exercises could be done fairly effectively with either weight. Fifth, your premise that because athletes got somewhere some other way, that would automatically mean they are doing things most efficiently is flawed! If all athletes started going to McDonalds every day for protein intake, and this crazy guy over here was offering egg whites and shakes, would u hit up the Micky D’s? No, you would evolve and learn their might be a better more efficient way, right? At least I’d hope you would. And just to put a final stamp on this comment, your origin of the kettlebell is also wrong. Kettlebells were originally developed in Russia in the 1700s.

“Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettlebell exercises often involve large numbers of repetitions. Kettlebell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously[7] and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks. This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to High-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting. In one study, kettlebell enthusiasts performing a 20 minute snatch workout were measured to burn, on average, 13.6 calories/minute aerobically and 6.6 calories/minute anaerobically during the entire workout – “equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace”.[8]“-Wikipedia

That being said, I DO agree with you that they are not a MAGIC PILL, cure all, fix all for everyone, but they ARE BETTER than dumbbells!!!

Jared Coad, is A RED SOX fan :) , and writes on the topics of Bodybuilding, fitness, nutrition at the site XtremeStack and owns the Supplement Company Xtreme Stack Nutrition, Inc

PS. Thomas, I hope I provided enough fact and logic as I am criticizing your belief, but not your intelligence. It’s also unfortunate we all have beliefs, I’d rather have ideas, they are easier to change than beliefs!!

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Thomas December 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm

research enough you can find a doctor to argue for or against any position

No. There are many, many facts on which doctors are in universal agreement. For instance, you’ll find no doctors who argue that kettlebells are safer for your elbows and wrists than dumbbells during overhead presses and overhead power moves. No licensed doctor — all of whom belong to a professional organization that sets (and enforces) standards of behavior for its members — would disagree with that simple fact. Unlike many of the people who argue on the internet, doctors have to back up their arguments with facts and logic, so they can’t just take any arbitrary ‘position’ whenever they feel like it. And there are plenty of other points of fact concerning the drawbacks of kbells that are indisputable, many of which I touch on in my article and won’t reiterate here.

Your basic premise is flawed severely however. One, to compare a kettlebell to an adjustable dumbbell is the same as comparing an apple with a watermellon. There are adjustable kettlebells as well, maybe u should compare apples with apples next time.

I mentioned adjustable kbells and dismissed them as overly expensive and insufficiently heavy. And frankly, it’s perfectly ok to compare apples to watermelons. They’re not the same, so they certainly warrant comparison. And most people would be much better off with an apple tree in the back yard instead of a watermelon vine.

because kettlebells are not a consistent weight (or uniform throughout “its not even”) you have to use more energy in holding, lifting and using them as compared with a traditional dumbbell, thats fact!!!

This is baloney of the highest order. Don’t confuse facts (or facts!!!) with fantasy. It’s demonstrably false because you can’t lift the center of gravity of a kettlebell as high as you can that of a dumbbell. And even if there was a universe where it was true (and somehow important to a person’s fitness goals) it’s a worthless measure of suitability. After all, you have to use more energy holding an automobile, but I’m sure you wouldn’t advise someone to train with a Toyota.

I also find it funny that your site is seo optimized to come up in the seach results for kettlebells!

Maybe you find it funny to spread false information? I looked, and I didn’t find my site in the first 10 pages for a search on the keyword “kettlebells”. Perhaps if you log out of the big G and try again? It would be nice if it was true; I’d love to outrank Wikipedia! This page is not SEO optimized for anything, but because of its size, its links from other sites, and its social media hits, it often ranks for lots of long-tail searches.

Third, would you consider an MMA fighter a professional athlete? I would, and many if not all of them use kettlebells in their training.

A professional MMA fighter is a pro athlete. And while it’s interesting to see how world-class pros work out, their workouts are of no use to the other 99.9% of us. What is much more useful and instructive is to look at the training programs he/she used to get to the top. I’d completely disbelieve any hype that claimed the athlete used kettlebells during the decade (or so) of training before they joined the ranks of the professionals. And I would be skeptical of any advertising hype that insinuated that pro athletes exclusively use obsolete, dangerous kettlebells instead of modern, widely-used barbells. It’s likely that, even if a pro athlete swings a bell around occasionally for a fitness workout or to collect an endorsement check, they don’t come anywhere close to basing their core program on k’bells After the first few years, weight training plays an extremely minor part in any combat athlete’s in-season routine. Since combat sports are my hobby (I’ve been working out in a fight gyms since the late ’80s), I have some standing to offer my judgement.

the range of motion you can achieve with a kettlebell is longer than that of a dumbbell so certain exercises are better with kettlebells than with dumbbells, not to say that many exercises could be done fairly effectively with either weight.

I won’t try to guess which exercises these are. But the time-tested exercises used by professional athletes during their formative years are all — without exception — best performed with barbells (or occasionally, dumbbells). Every athlete who wants to maximize his/her chances for success (and minimize injury during intense activities) needs to prioritize mobility and range-of-motion training, especially if they engage in weight training. But they don’t need kettlebells to do this. In fact, they don’t need kettlebells for anything except ‘kettlebell competitions’.

your premise that because athletes got somewhere some other way, that would automatically mean they are doing things most efficiently is flawed!

To paraphrase my statement: “Every pro athlete got to where he/she is without kettlebells, and this includes the famous kettlebell instructors and the famous kettlebell athletes (who didn’t start using kettlebells until they were already among the ranks of excellent athletes). You will find no famous Russian kettlebell master who didn’t start out as an Olympic-style weight lifter, and the same goes for the top guys on the ‘net who sell kettlebell instruction DVDs.”

Inductive reasoning is not flawed. It is weaker than deductive reasoning, but it it what it is, and calling it flawed is a worthless argument. We all rely on inductive reasoning and analogical reasoning every single day of our lives, and just becasue the conclusions we reach using these forms of reasoning are not 100% provable, this doesn’t mean those conclusions are either wrong or flawed or worthless.

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Andy May 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Haha do you know anything of bio mechanics?? To State that you lift a dB higher than a kb in a overhead Press i just downright wrong.
However you are right in stating that most of the drills Can be done with dbs
Cheers

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Thomas May 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

No, you’re wrong. One lifts the center of gravity of a DB higher than that of a KB. The range of motion of a DB lift is significantly greater. There’s at least 25% more range of motion lifting a DB from the clean position to the overhead position than there is with a KB (might be closer to one-third in people who are skilled with kettlebells). Anyone who has ever tried it knows that it is much easier to hold a KB overhead — this is why many people prefer to use KB for so-called Turkish get ups: it’s easier and less demanding. By the way, what does “biomechanics” have to do with it?

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Andy May 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm

please understand that i agree with you on almost all other thing in your article. and i thing that peolpe are getting REALLY tired of the salesmen pitching kettlebells but….you are right regarding to the center of gravity being out of your hand when lifting the kettlebell but that doesnt mean that you cant lift the weight just as high. look at the picture both his hands that carry the weight are at somewhat full lockout so the weight is lifted equally high. if i pull two sleds, one with a 5 meter rope and one with a 10 meter rope atached to if, 400 meters then i have pulled them equally long even though one was longe away from me then the other. :-)

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Thomas May 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm

No, the range of motion from the clean position ( or from the floor) to overhead is much shorter — up to 30% shorter. The reason its easier to put a bell overhead from the clean position is that the kettlebell rotates part-way around its CG, unlike the dumbbell. That means less work per movement, and less ‘stabilization’ required to keep it up. The height at which one lifts the handle is immaterial — you can flip the KB over and lift the center of gravity higher than a DB, but that’s not practical. Use your own analogy to figure out why you are incorrect: if you tie a rope to the kettlebell (or dumbbell), then lift it overhead with the rope, you do less work because you have lifted it a shorter distance against gravity. The offset kettlebell handle is similar to the rope in your example. When you factor in the rotation, it adds up to a lot less work. Try it and see for yourself: it’s much easier to press and hold a KB overhead.

look at the picture both his hands that carry the weight are at somewhat full lockout so the weight is lifted equally high

The handles (and his hands) are at the same height, but he’s not lifting the weight as high. Assuming they weigh the same, much less work is needed to lift the KB, and it’s much easier to keep it overhead. It doesn’t matter that the hands are at the same height, what matters is the range of motion of the CG. When the KB is on the floor, the handle is higher than a DB handle, and when it’s in the clean position, the handle is rotated so its not directly above the CG. In both cases, the range of motion is less than with a DB.

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Andy May 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm

it is actually quite beneficial to do a kettlebell bottums up press… lots of gripwork
anyway i bet we can agree to disagree then ;-)

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brawndo February 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I agree with everything in your article. The only thing I would say is KB salesmen and the whole dogma does get people into fitness. I wouldn’t have started weightlifting if not for the KB. I got all the books some kbs swang away. They didn’t make me that much stronger. But again if it weren’t for the outlandish claims, low point of entry (hey thats what marketings all about right) I never would have later bought an olympic set built a squat rack and started lifting for real. So I am glad they do what they do regardless of what there claims may or maynot be. And WTF to the guy who broke his forearm? Really ? Reminds me of the lady who sued mc d’s for not putting “caution hot beverage” on the cup.

*****WARNING HEAVY METAL THINGS CAN HURT YOU******

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Thomas February 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Reminds me of the lady who sued mc d’s for not putting “caution hot beverage” on the cup.

They got sued because instead of handing out drinkable coffee to her car-pool, they handed out a boiling-hot cup of liquid, with an improperly-attached lid which came apart on her lap and burned her severely.

And she easily won the lawsuit because the jury understood that the defendant was liable for her injuries since instead of serving her coffee in a proper cup, it served her a dangerous, undrinkable liquid in a faulty container.

The defendant was liable because they knew the dangers, and had policies in place to avoid those dangers, but the manager never policed or publicized those policies in a way that a reasonable person would agree he/she should have. Instead, he allowed his employees to take short-cuts that made their job easier, but resulted in serious, potentially life-threatening injury to a regular customer.

This is interesting because it’s a perfect analogy for the kettlebell-instruction racket.

Just about every member of the kettlebell-teaching cabal is unqualified to teach gym class to grammar-school students.

Yet, this ignorance doesn’t stop them from calling themselves “masters” and from recommending ridiculous, dangerous exercises to their mostly unathletic and impressionable students.

A number of the exercises they recommend are dangerous, just like a boiling-hot cup of pseudo-coffee. And like the defendant in the lawsuit you mention, these instructors know of the dangers. But rather than publicize this information, they take active measures to censor this information. Measures such as removing it from the websites they control, or trying to belittle the folks who report and publish the info.

This is analagous to the restaurant manager who intentionally failed to instruct his employees in the proper way to prepare and serve a cup of coffee.

I’m certain the restaurant manager would not try to drink a boiling-hot cup of liquid. After all, that would burn him severely. So it’s unfortunate that he felt it was OK to serve boiling liquid to a customer, just to save his employees 5 minutes of work. The customer was the unlucky recipient of the manager’s negligence and the server’s mistake involving the improperly-attached lid.

Kettlebell students are recipients of physiologically-incorrect training methods that put them at more risk than modern methods. And just like the manager who wouldn’t drink the coffee he served to his guests, the kettlebell instructors didn’t become skilled athletes using the tools and methods they teach. Rather, they because skilled athletes by using the same time-tested tools and techniques every other athlete used.

Sooner or later, one of their students will become the unlucky recipient of this perfect storm of bad technique, bad tool, and stupid instructor, and he’ll have a lawyer on retainer…

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Vinodh Rajkumar March 27, 2013 at 4:25 am

Although i don’t have evidence, but i doubt if KB training can cause colle’s fracture or distal forearm fracture due to that excess compressive force the bell applies on the posterior distal forearm.

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Shefali May 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I am glad you’ve put this information out there.

I think it’s important to look at statistics and science rather than hype.

I have found, for myself, that kettlebells are working. However, I’m not a fanatic – I wanted to find a tool that would work for my goals (to lose weight and get into shape) in a safe and effective manner.

Short history – I had cancer 8 years ago. Prior to the cancer, I was in pretty decent shape. I hiked 14′ers (including Long’s Peak) and backpacked. I could hike in the mountains for 8 hours a day with no problems. I also liked to ski, canoe, bike, snorkel, play racqueball and go white water rafting. In other words – I liked to have fun, not go to the gym. Nevertheless, I was in decent shape.

After I had chemo, I was very weak and I gained 50 pounds which is a LOT of weight for a 5’2″ woman. Then I started trying a variety of different methods to lose weight, including yoga (which ended up in my injuring myself!), doing free weights with a personal trainer, aerobics, etc. Nothing worked for me despite my being very disciplined and keeping a food journal, etc. I knew how many calories a pound of fat had and I had an approximation of my metabolic rate, so given that I was eating 1400-1500 calories a day and working out with my personal trainer for an hour (doing weights) once a week, plus doing weights on my own twice a week, plus doing aerobics (an hour on the elliptical or treadmill) 3x a week – I should have been losing weight! But I wasn’t!

I followed the above regimen for 6 months (3x a week weights, 3x a week aerobics) and I did see a big improvement in my cardiovasculur fitness and strength, but very little difference in terms of weight loss.

Then I started to use a short kettlebell workout (20 minutes) 3x a week using light (4 pound) kettlebells and all of a sudden things started to change… in 2 months I’ve lost 12 pounds and I feel a LOT better.

So, what does all of that mean? Really, not a lot, because it’s an anecdote. I’m one person. It’s the same reason they don’t base prescriptions on results with one person – you need a statistically significant sample.

From my POV, since kettlebells are working for me and other modalities have not, I’ll stick to kettlebells. HOWEVER, because a lot of what you have written makes sense (for example, the center of gravity of a kettlebell – it’s just physics!), I now know that there are certain exercises I need to avoid doing, and also that I should probably switch to using dumb bells with a t-bar for doing swings, etc. Right now I’m still using light kettlebells, but I don’t want heavy ones to stress my wrists, etc. I don’t want to deal with a serious injury.

So I appreciate your article.

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Matt May 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Have you ever trained with an RKC instructor?

I lifted weights for decades, following the Men’s Fitness hypertrophy dogma. It primarily resulted in shortened hip flexors and an inflexible thoracic spine. Sure I could squat 400 pounds, military press 185 lbs, and bench 285, but I couldn’t MOVE outside of the linear pattern I had developed through traditional weight lifting. Plus, I lived in constant pain.

I have been working with an RKC instructor for a little over a year and my mobility and stability are better than they have ever been. My body is integrated and the imbalances magnified by years of barbell and dumbbell training are dissipating. I don’t have any peer reviewed journal articles to support my claims. I can claim, however, from my personal experience that kettlebells help one learn to move better. I also agree with you that kettlebells are not the best means for achieving muscle growth.

If one goes into kettlebell training with the hope of looking like Ronnie Coleman then they will be sadly disappointed. If, however, one wants to increase their stability, mobility, and integration of their body. I do not know of a better system than the RKC.

I think that it is very easy to get injured using kettlebells if one is not instructed properly. A good teacher and patience is necessary. The path of the RKC is similar to a martial arts teaching system, so its not surprising that many martial artists/mma guys are attracted to this method. I have had to develop greater discipline, focus and restraint than was necessary in my bodybuilding days.

I understand and appreciate that you favor traditional bodybuilding/power lifting implements. They are very effective for their intended purpose. Getting big and getting strong. That does not make the kettlebell an ineffective tool. Its just better at different things.

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Thomas June 2, 2013 at 5:05 am

It’s nice that you’re happy with your current fitness routine.

I hope you can see that your lack of mobility was because your previous fitness program was incomplete. Nobody can have success without daily mobility training. Pro athletes work on mobility and flexibility every day, but prioritize strength training maybe 3 months out of the year at most (with obvious exceptions).

Your pain and immobility were not caused by your barbells. They we the result of an incomplete fitness regimen. If you had a coach back then, as you do now, you’d have been fine. The difference is not the kettlebells, the difference is your athletic coaching.

no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it — Albert Einstein

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Richard Mahony June 2, 2013 at 12:12 am

I think the author presents a very persuasive argument. I am an enthusiastic weight-training sceptic in the sense that I have followed many various fitness, strength and power training regimes for roughly half a century with variable, inconsistent and perplexing results. The pros and cons of kettlebell exercises versus the two Olympic lifts intrigue me.

As a young child, I developed enormous strength, power and endurance from working hard in my grandparents’ very large garden, climbing trees and ropes, running with my grandmother’s dog – and from constantly wrestling other kids who were much bigger and heavier than me. At the age of ten, I was playing rugby in the school team with thirteen-year-olds and acquired a reputation as the best schoolboy tackler on our local circuit. I was fast, I was fit. I was strong, I was powerful. I was the classic early developer. Genetics and environment together.

As a teen and as an adult, I was more concerned with function than form. If anything, I wanted to slim down not bulk up. I was short limbed and stocky with a long upper torso. When other boys started shooting up, to my chagrin I did not. I shot out sideways instead. I started to look ridiculous in a pair of jeans because each thigh circumference was almost the same as my inside seam. I wanted to be tall, slim and elegant yet well-muscled like my cowboy heroes on the silver screen. Instead, I looked like a very short Michelin man. I was a stocky version of Jimmy Cagney, not a John Wayne look alike. I hated the way I looked when I caught sight of myself in the reflective windows of shops.

I was a good all round athlete with certain bizarre strengths and weaknesses that I could never fully understand nor properly address. I had the most amazing biceps anyone had ever seen and was perhaps the best wrestler weight for weight all through my school years. Nevertheless, I couldn’t do a single one-arm pull up like the best wrestler/judoka in the school. I was lousy at the pole-vault, unable to lift my body over the bar. I was distressingly feeble at the javelin but won the boot-throwing contest against the school javelin champion at Gaudy (the school’s summer open day)! I was a poor swimmer except at the backstroke. I was one of the fastest runners, but not the fastest, over every distance from 200 metres to six miles. I was a good hurdler. I excelled at circuit training and at the beep test. I was good at most racquet sports. I did well at county level in all sorts of physical activities. Somehow, however, I just didn’t have what it took at anything to go to the next level which was national selection.

As an adult, in my mid-fifties, currently I have set myself two broad goals, which many might feel are inconsistent and mutually exclusive. One goal is to try and regain as much as possible of my earlier speed. A second goal is to regain as much as possible of my earlier cardiovascular fitness. If I can put the two together, then I want to have a crack at various state, national and world records in my age group in a wide variety of disciplines. I don’t want to be strong at the expense of being slow over anything that lasts more than ten minutes. Nor do I want to be fast over the longer events at the expense of being weak in the explosive events. Hence, in physiological terms, as I age my goal is maximising two different things: maximal power output (explosive strength) and sustained power output. In short, I want to be able to set age records in the appropriate weight category from the two Olympic lifts to the 100 km ultramarathon. Now, is that too much to ask?

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Kevin Ouldhouse June 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm

http://youtu.be/zIkBvfhx64Y
bells 2 88lbs bells
Ivan Denisov best in his weight class. 250lbs

http://youtu.be/psS3rAmuc04
58lb bell 5 min Left and Right arm 170+ reps.
Best female lifter in the world 138lbs

Here are 2 of the best lifters in the world. Is there anyone in the world that can match these numbers with a dumbell? I use many different modalities and equipment. If I am going to compete in Kettlebell sport I will use kettlebells. If you learn the correct technique Kettle bells can be very safe and can be learned very quickly.

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Thomas June 7, 2013 at 12:36 am

No rational person would want to match those numbers with a dumbbell. What’s the point?

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Thesquatinator July 20, 2013 at 7:31 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vhnkpi9k0g

Lee priest pressing 145 lbs dbs, not push pressing them up like the guy in the video. Lee also weighs less than the guy in the vid.

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Mika June 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

What about Russian Army. They still use kettlebell?

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Dave June 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I got into kettlebell training in 07′. My shoulders were thrashed from years of tree trimming and push ups killed, so I gave KB’s a try. About a year ago I threw my back out so I laid of the KB and switched to dumbbells for incline press, pull ups, and dumbbell squats. My back feels much better, as I realize the KB was too much stress on my lower back. Also I lost some strength that has returned with dumbbells and pull ups. One thng that always bugged me was when I noticed Kb’ers pushing two kb’s. I thought, ‘why not just use dumbbells?”. I’m done with KB’s .

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paulo June 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm

this is the more idiot, desinformative e fraudulent kettlebell article.

lamentable.

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Thomas June 15, 2013 at 6:15 am

Thank you for your support!

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Jim June 23, 2013 at 5:54 am

Thank you for writing this article. While I’m a fan of Kettlebell-type exercises (swings, snatches, etc.) – I completely agree that all of the routines can be done more safely and efficiently with a dumbell. A lot of people tout the off-balance nature of the kettlebells which make them for effective, but I’m not buying it. Even if that was the case – how much more effective are they really? Wouldn’t using dumbells at least come close to the same intensity? For this reason – I agree with the author that dumbells are better for variety, safety and cost – if you want to do kettlebell workouts – just use dumbells for that – it works for me.

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Jim November 27, 2013 at 7:08 am

This is a follow-up to my original comment above. About a month ago – I purchased an adjustable kettlebell, feeling that the larger handle would make some of the exercises I’ve been doing easier. I’m very glad I did. While I still feel that using dumbbells for kettlebell workouts is a very similar feel, using an actual kettlebell for swings, get ups, and other kettlebell-specific exercises seems to work better, in terms of handling the weight. I use both dumbbells and kettlebells now as part of my overall strength training. There is one advantage I think to a kettlebell – basically, having one appropriately weighted bell (or an adjustable bell) is like having a home gym in one piece of equipment. When I travel – I take the kettlebell and I can always get a good cardio/strength workout w/o having to worry about going to a gym. A disadvantage – as the author pointed out – was that some of the kettlebell exercises put a lot of pressure / or impact to the forearm – especially the adjustable kettlebell which uses plates and is not ergonomically designed. I had to purchase some forearm pads and use foam when I do the snatches, and it still hurts sometimes – so you got to be careful. Other than that – I’m thoroughly enjoying the swings. I was recently traveling and went to a gym and did kettlebell exercises with dumbbells and still got a great workout, but I prefer using my kettlebell for doing these type of routines.

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Robert July 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

Wow…this is one of a few select sites that actually don’t promote Kettlebells.

I’ve read your article twice and I have to say you do have a point. I’ve only started training with kettlebells seriously this year, having bought a pair of 32 kg just this January but I started with a pair of 16 kg last 2011 then a pair of 24 kg on the same year. Small weight increments, I know but I became stronger with the exercises I’ve been doing and I only workout like 20-25 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week.

And I’m enjoying their full benefits if anything. I’m 23 years old and my doctors can’t find a single thing that’s physically wrong with me. If anything, they tell me I’m very healthy for my age (which I found funny since doctors now consider the early 20′s as the abusive years or something).

I like your article. I like the fact that you show your opinion against kettlebells in a broad yet dissecting manner. I also like the way you write your articles being that I’m a writer myself and I’ve learned to not just appreciate the contents but the method of writing the author used.

But I really can’t agree on what you say here. And for that I apologize.

I started with barbells and dumbbells as well as the usual gym training we know but consistency wasn’t there since I had a job. I also didn’t like paying for a gym membership. So I went out and bought my first pair so I can recreate a gym-like training with only a small tool. Plus, I only had to do them like 20 minutes a day or something.

I was a student then and asking parents for money to buy personal stuff ain’t my thing. KBs were relatively cheaper compared to dumbbells if I compare the exercises I can do with them. But it’s just me, though. Maybe you know more exercises on dumbbells than I do :)

You may call me ignorant or some bandwagon-er but I only used the kettlebell to build functional strength and for fat burning. I’ve combined it with pull ups and push ups and all sorts of body weight exercises and I’m very satisfied with the results. I mean, I never aimed at having six pack abs with KBs but I have them anyway so it’s a plus for me.

And I never lost speed. When I started with barbells, I felt like I became slower. I never want to sacrifice my speed for mass. With KBs, I found the perfect way to increase speed and strength at the same time. I won’t be bulky or anything but I’ll be functionally fast.

I’m not looking to bulk up or to fight in a match. I just want to stay healthy as I age and for that I’ve chosen the tool you advise against. But thank you for making me see what the other side thinks of my favorite tool.

PS: I really find training with dumbbells boring compared to KBs. It’s not…intense enough. :)

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Robert July 6, 2013 at 10:33 am

And oh, I’m 6’3″ and weigh 176 lb. Just in case you were wondering.

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Ian July 20, 2013 at 9:42 am

I agree with the author. I’m a firm believer in dumbel clean and presses as a go to excercise, and read somewhere if you are more advanced use KB’s. I think that’s rubbish, clearly they are going to be awkward and require a lighter weight. And I think it’s heaps better having the adjustability of a dumbel, not only for going up in weight but for dropping down if you’ve had some time off. With a pair of dumbels I keep one at a weight for warm up and the other at a much heavier weight. As I progress I’ll increase them both. Rather than adding difficulty by using awkward KB’s I’d rather add difficulty by adding more weight.

But that’s just my opinion, and for anyone that finds using KB’s adds variety to their workout and keeps them motivated, then that can only be a good thing. But they don’t interest me personally.

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Ian July 20, 2013 at 10:12 am

In addition to my above comment. Another thing I like about the dumbel clean and press is the greater range of motion compared to a KB. Because I’m only 74 kg’s (163 lbs) my 1 rep max is only at 33 kg’s (73 lbs) so I can get that weight on the dumbel using only 2.5 kg (5 lb) plates, so the handle is nice and low giving me a better leg workout. Because I only train at home with a few exercises (muscle-ups and trap-bar deadlifts are also included in my home gym) I like to get the most out of each exercise. And I feel the lower grip postion of a dumbel, helps me get the most out of clean and presses compared to a KB. If later on, I end up going to 5 kg plates, the handle on the dumbel will still be much lower than a KB handle.

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Jim July 29, 2013 at 1:00 am

Please get educated. Genetics made you scrawny, and ignorance has kept you there.

MMA fighters, gymnasts, and wrestlers (by far the most fit kind of athletes alongside swimmers) primarily use Kettlebells and rarely if ever use dumbbells or barbells.

NCAA Div 1 Football programs in the SEC (the only conference that matters in NCAAF) have revised their workouts to incorporate kettlebells to improve the explosiveness in the athletes.

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John August 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

http://www.stack.com/2013/08/01/kettlebell-overhead-squat-press/

An NFL player TRAINING WITH ‘GASP’ DUMBBELLS!

YOU KNOW NOTHING SIR

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Ed Green August 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Sorry, but this is such a hole ridden article – I’ve met kettlebell doubters, clubbell doubters and free weights doubters – they’re all either full of it or have come off the back of some bad experiences borne out of bad instruction or some freak accident.

I’ve trained for the last 30 years with weights, for three with kettles and two with heavy steel clubs – wouldn’t give up a one of them as a strength and conditioning tool – each has too much to offer.

Weight for weight clubs beat kettles beat dumbbells beat barbells. Its that simple. If I’m chucking a strength tool into the boot of my car for an overnight trip its going to be a club or kettle, if I’m pushing ultimate simple motion strength in isolation – I’m going to major on leg press and olympic bar exercises – complex 3d reaction work – heavy club, 2d reaction work – kettlebell – forearm stability – I might use a barbell one handed.

These things are all tools – don’t get punked by anyone selling single vision when you need a file use a file not a sledgehammer.

But the world isn’t simple we’re trying to develop overall strength, conditioning, responsiveness and fitness – and each of these tools will have its place for many athletes. There are things I simply cannot do as efficiently if I cut any of these from my toolbox – just as I’d not consider giving up on the idea of running, cycling, pliometrics or rowing as having uses.

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Mario September 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Very well said Ed,

I have been doing strong men lifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, body weight training, fitness training, and so on for about 34 years now. I have 3 Personal Trainer Certificates and I have tried all the “fads” people are talking about out there. Even CrossFit, which is not a fad any more now, despite what a lot of people thought. I have a Kettlebell set as a part of my home gym equipment and I use it on a regular basis, as much as all my other workout tools. I will agree with the author on this though…Kettlebell training, or the use of the Kettlebell as a workout tool, can be tricky for a starter, kid or not. I have the same idea on CrossFit also. I always believed in a good strong foundation with barbells and dumbbells before trying more complicated moves and tools. Everything has a place, depending on your needs as you very well said, once the foundations are solid. As a Personal Trainer, when I have someone new to any type of training asking me questions about Kettlebell training or CrossFit and other things like that, my response is always to start some kind of foundation, getting through the learning curves of how their own body works and respond to exercises and then, only then, if they feel like trying some new things we can incorporate some different moves like Kettlebell swings and such. It is also a lot about personal preferences and personal abilities. I feel that everyone here are having good opinions, all according to their own experiences and knowledge. To me it all boils down to two things only: what works best for you and how your body respond to it? I will never turn down one piece of equipment in comparison to another one. As you said, it all goes to what is the purpose you have at the moment.

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Ed Green October 24, 2013 at 2:52 am

Mario,

You make a key point – one that should be stressed more and one that I certainly omitted and shouldn’t have – kettlebells aren’t suitable for those who are untrained and not used to any form of strength training or work.

First comes basic mobility, then bodyweight and basic fitness.

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John Presta October 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

It is obvious to any one who has any serious kettlebell training that the author never used one or learned how to use one. I have powerlifted, competed in Olympic and Kettlebell competitions and respect all the aforementioned resistance training modes. There is no way you can swing or snatch a dumbbell as long or efficiently as you can a kettlebell. As for overuse injuries or injuries of the back or hands, sorry pal. Everyone I know who has done both kettlebell and barbell training has had more serious injuries with barbells and dumbells. A little more empiracle evidence and less opinion are called for here. By the way, several NFL teams use hettlebell coaches and I’ve seen photos of the Klitschcoe brothers using kettlebells.

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Yvonne October 9, 2013 at 8:54 am

A successful athlete – not one – can say they owe it all to kettlebells eh? WRONG. I’m one. As a female martial artist, my kettlebell legs have defeated many a man on the mat. Their expressions are priceless when they realize that a woman just overpowered them. I love Jiu jitsu and thanks to kettlebells, I have endured and conquered the sport.

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Paul Sellers October 25, 2013 at 6:54 am

Whenever I see an “article” supposedly objective, with comments like “kettlebell zealot” and “cult of kettlebell” I instantly lose respect for the piece. This “article” sounds in its tone very much like one of those online arguments about which brand of smartphone is better. The piece is no less full of hyperbole and opinion than the sources the author derides.

As for the claim that anyone who advocates KBs has an agenda to part you from your money or is simply a moron who fell for the marketing – how in heaven’s name does anyone defend commercial gyms (where KBs are rarely found) where the profit is in signing up people to contracts and then leaving them to it? Commercial gyms are one of the most cynical marketing ploys of the age. As you point out elsewhere on your site the fitness industry is just that – an industry out to make money. Every conceivable fitness method and tool has been marketed to death so why single out KBs? Unless it’s to sell an alternative product, say, oh I dunno, adjustable KBs?

From my own experience I have to say after many, many years under the iron in more gyms than I care to count I fixed my strength imbalances, stabilization issues and a very nasty RSI problem (DB related) in my left arm that left me literally dropping anything heavier than a towel, all with kettlebells. I also get a hell of a buzz from training with KBs – way more than I did with bars. I am also stronger than I have ever been, leaner, more ripped and fitter than I have ever been in my 52 years and that’s after ditching the gym and working with KBs and bodyweight exclusively. I very much doubt I’ll every walk into a commercial again. And not only because of the frankly horrific form and gym etiquette you find in most gyms these days.

In regard to not being able to adjust KBs as you can with DBs – when you feel the time has come for you to move up from say, a 16kg KB to a 20kg or 24kg, you look at the heavier KB with apprehension if not fear. You respect that weigh and don’t go anywhere near it until you are working with the 16kg very confidently. Then and only then do you begin to use the next KB up. If it’s too early and you can’t manage the heavier weight then go back down and practice some more until you are ready. There is no room for ego. There is no room for lifting the next weight up because you think you should or your mate is lifting more plates than you are. If you do it will soon become apparent.

Wrist strain? KBs do not strain your wrist if you use correct form, like anything else, RTFM!

Grip strength a limiting factor? My grip strength has gone through the roof using KBs. BTW you NEVER see ANYONE using lifting straps with a KB. If your grip isn’t strong enough for the KB, you are not ready for that weight so use the next one down and work on your grip (there are movements that will do this very efficiently).

Thick handles? They strengthen the grip. Indeed, products are now available to increase the girth of DB handles to this end.

A specific claim in the article has irritated me as it’s blatantly wrong. The author claims that compared to a KB overhead press a DB moves further. Plain wrong. The DB starts the lift from the shoulder; the KB starts the lift from the rack position on the chest with the handle below the clavicle. The KB moves further. The assertion that the movement strains the wrist is just ignorant; the KB handle should rest across the heel of the hand and the hand should be relaxed. You should be able to open your hand and the bell will remain stable. The angle of the wrist should be neutral and not bent back.

Expensive? My set of 3 pairs cost less than half a year’s gym membership.

As for injury – you can get injured doing any sport or training for any sport. If you don’t know what you are doing, if you make a mistake, if you don’t respect whatever kind of weight you are moving, you can get injured. I’ve had many an injury from lifting DBs and BBs but zero from KBs. The standard advice is to train outdoors or over a thick mat and to ditch the KB if it even twitches the wrong way. Don’t fight it. Don’t try to recover the movement because the iron will always win and it will cost you. Even if the bell cracks, it’s better than cracking your wrist. Again, this is standard advice.

The author puts forward the argument that using KBs gets you really good at using KBs and nothing else. Yeah? The same argument holds true for DBs and BBs. Same for any strength movement. Moot point. Anything that makes you stronger makes you stronger, promotes a beneficial hormonal response and enhances your life.

If what you want is to bulk up and look good in the mirror then stick to the DBs. If you want stability, conditioning and functional strength then use KBs. If you want both, use both. Hating on one or the other doesn’t do anyone any good and could well lead people to miss out on a training tool, or mix of training tools, that will meet their specific needs and is right FOR THEM.

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Eduardo Fonseca November 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Well,

i trained since 1988 with barbells and dumbells and last 4 years with kettlebells and improving my technique. What i can say about post?……i really gave up to read blogs and sites because this. There are no tools better than others, there are nothing to discover on fitness training and protocols, etc…we must choose what we prefer, what we like, what keep us training every days. FOr someone that has the capacity to put on a paper what is better and choose is someone that do not have any clue about what people fellings to mantain working out and nothing about fitness world where people doesn´t have time to train. If you wanna know, there are (as dumbells) and not, ajustables kettlebells and for swing and snatch the kettlebells are much better than dumbells if you wanna do strenght training or endurance and GIrevoy Sport. For injuries….are you joking me????? Well, this is way i keep me on fitness and do not read nothing. Think simple is really a tough work cause we need to delete so many information and i thing it´s really tough for someone that write a post about things that can´t be compared and cause one is used at high level for a sport and other is just a fitness tool.

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Talmadge McGooliger November 16, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Thank you for challenging thinking on the kettlebell subject. I have been using kettlebells for about 8 years now and recently challenged my own thinking on the subject by asking myself would I let my teenage boys (they aren’t teenagers yet) train with kettlebells when they come of age. I worry about their safety and the ergonomics of kettlebells in cleans and pressing since they actually led me to a wrist injury. I am, unfortunately, one of the 10% of the population whose ulna is longer than his radius and the ergonomics of cleaning isn’t suited well to my physiology. I did just want to touch base on the subject of why people in the kettlebell community are so fervent in their adherence to the beliefs of the “party” through my personal experience with weightlifting. I am old enough that my early teenage years were filled with Schwarzenegger films and my earliest hopes of masculinity tied to bulging muscles and the strength that went with it. I bought every magazine with Arnold’s picture and even bought his Encyclopedia on Modern Bodybuilding. I would write up elaborate weight training plans that would take 4-5 hours per week to get through only to burn me out and I would make little gains doing 5 sets of 10 with 15 pound dumbells. I would come back to weightlifting eventually only to face the same frustration of little gain for months of effort. I would spend money on all sorts of stupid supplements thinking that would be the key to my lack of strength gains. I ran across Pavel’s writings in the Muscle Media. He advocated few exercises with heavy weight and making strength a priority. I stopped lifting like a ‘roided out bodybuilder whose bodies will respond to just about every type of weight program they use and began the Power to the People routine. I gained 12 pounds of muscle and was the strongest I had ever been. Prior to him emerging on the scene, deadlifts were only for the 400-pound powerlifters with high body fat percentages. I would eagerly await the monthly copy of Muscle Media waiting for him shatter some old paradigm I’d read on how you need to drink East Siberian tiger urine to gain muscle or spend 10 hours per week in the gym that had only some 15000 dollar piece of equipment if you wanted to truly gain muscle. His programs worked for me. So when he introduced swings in the magazine (he even recommended using a dumbbell if you didn’t have a kettlebell) I liked the experience. It was different than anything I’d tried before except box jumps (I tried them in high school track and field). So, I bought a kettlebell and for under 100 bucks I could dump the 50 dollar a month membership at the gym, train at home on my schedule. I have been making strength improvements ever since. I can now press the 88 pound kettlebell for 5 reps. I have bigger stronger shoulders than I ever imagined I would have. Prior to Pavel and his kettlebells, no one did swings (even with dumbbells). He brought a fresh perspective to the weightlifting community for the average Joe who wanted to improve and he wasn’t tied to supplements in any way. For that, he has many loyal followers and kettlebells are the tool that go with that loyalty. Kettlebells have provided a different weight lifting experience for people who prefer to work out at home without the expensive gym memberships. I do pullups, military press, deadlifts, pistols and swings and feel like I am one of the strongest people I know. (Yes, I would get killed in a power lifting meet but I don’t know any powerlifters.) Aesthetically, I would never win a bodybuilding contest but I like my look. Broad shoulders, thin waist, V-back. Could I have done this with barbells and dumbbells? Yes!…But who was advocating any sort of program like that the ones the RKC offered prior to kettlebells? No one that I know of. I like the collective thinking of the program that has brought strength to the fitness community in a way that no other program or training philosophy did prior to kettlebells coming to the market. To me, kettlebells aren’t a tool to compare to others. They are a symbol of unconventional weight lifting that changed the rules of the game for those of us who are NOT professional athletes nor wish to be. To my answer the original question I posed: I will not have my sons doing cleans and military presses with kettlebells – but swings and weighted pistols with kettlebells will be part of their programs if they choose to lift and want any direction from me in that endeavor. Whatever you choose – find a program you can stick with and will enjoy.

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Aaron December 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I find it quite interesting that you mention no competitive athlete got where they were today by using kettlebells. Are you saying “exclusively”? Because no one got where they are just by using a dumbbell, either. It’s a combination of all things that make you a successful athlete. Would you like to tell this theory of yours to Fedor Emelianenko, who uses kettlebells frequently in his training?

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Charles March 5, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Wow talk about an article full of fallacies

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Thomas March 5, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Wow, care to talk about any examples of fallacies in this article?

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Phil March 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

I stumbled across this site while contemplating buying some adjustable kettlebells for my wife that I could also use. While Thomas could have done without the antagonistic name calling, there’s a lot of good info and discussion here so I’m glad I found it.

As a runner I realized up front kettlebells probably couldn’t provide a cardio workout worthwhile to me, and experience and common sense told me they would take considerable skill to avoid injury at useful poundages. But regardless I thought they might be a good supplement to my routine.

I still think they could be a fun way for non-competitive athletes like myself to add variety and increase general fitness levels. And I think as long as people recognize their limitations and dangers there is nothing wrong with using them. But after reading and thinking about it I don’t think the risk to my joints is worth it. The pictures demonstrating how the shape prevents good form is telling.

I’m a reformed Soloflex guy so I understand how easy it is to get caught up in hype, especially when you do see fitness gains. The fact is that you can get good gains (to a point) with just about any program using any equipment if you put effort into it. Even rubber band and plastic bow machines. That’s why the hype is so effective, people do see real results. I got into great shape using my Soloflex but once I switched to a barbell and dumbbells there was no going back. I’m not a bodybuilder and have no desire to get huge, freeweights are simply more effective and flexible .

If you enjoy kettlebells and they safely get you to your goals, that’s great. Any successful fitness program will only be successful if you stick with it and part of that can be finding exercises that you like. But there’s nothing magical or mystical about them. If you want functional strength, barbells and dumbells appear to be clearly superior and you don’t need a kettlebell to do the staples of kettlebell routines. People seem to take that as a claim that kettlebells aren’t effective at all and get bent out of shape about it, but that’s not what is being said.

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DK March 18, 2014 at 1:36 am

I train with competition style kettlebells and participate in Girevoy sport where competitors perform a specific lift for as many reps as they can during a 10 min time limit. The task is difficult and requires a very high level of endurance, strength and technique (technique above all else). Professional GS competitors use 24-32KG bells, men use two, women one. There are risks yes but that is true of any weighted sport or exercise. Do you just go and pickup a bar bell to perform the bar snatch without any training and expect not to hurt yourself? Do you expect the same with a dumbell… oh no wait on, I guess you’re just doing curls right?

When I started in girevoy sport I had many issues with my shoulders and back, both strength and mobility. These problems have improved immensely through proper training using kettlebells and GPP specific to the sport. I don’t believe any sportsman trains for their sport with one specific apparatus or lift or movement, they train using all forms of movement to develop the appropriate result in their chosen sport. I make note that russian military have used kettlebells in training for generations.

An example of the cardio vascular benefits, I entered a half marathon in 2013 (first time ever) with no running training at all) and using it as a test for my fitness gained from the endurance of Girevoy sport. I ran a time of 1hr 46mins with NO RUNNING TRAINING what-so-ever.

Whatever your chosen tool for strength training, get coached, do it properly and don’t be a fool like whomever wrote this article. It’s devoid of facts.

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Phil March 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

There are several facts in the article. Maybe you don’t agree with some of the opinions presented, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any facts.

It’s cool that you were able to run a half marathon without training for it, but any runner can tell you that’s a wonderful way to injure yourself. Ironic how you would brag about that yet state everybody else should be coached to properly do their activity.

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Phil March 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

By the way, the author stated clearly that kettlebells are effective for training for kettlebell (girevoy) competitions. Nobody has disputed that. The entire point of the article is that they are not the most effective training tool for any sport except that.

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Doug Seamans March 18, 2014 at 7:32 am

The guy who wrote this is obviously many things; jaded, a moron, inexperienced and he is also a coward for not putting his name on his article.

“Thick handles cause blisters”…if you have tiny, weak, girly-man hands.
“Hurts your wrist”…if you don’t hold it properly…or again you are weak.
“Grip strength is limiting factor”…same in deadlifts and any other barbell lift…and again only if you have weak hands!
“No way to get under the weight on cleans, jerks or snatches”…if you are an idiot and don’t know what you’re doing and you’ve never been trained by a professional.
“kettlebells have to be painted”…cast iron yes, steel no. dumbbells have to be painted too, so do iron barbell plates. Steel kettlebells have a raw handle just like a barbell and the bell itself is only painted different colors so we can easily identify the weights.
“injury is inevitable”…right, because nobody doing barbell snatches ever gets injured.

I could go on and on tearing this moron’s article apart. Oh, and you can go ahead and look me up, a simple google search will bring up my videos and pictures and website and articles and I am not afraid to attach my name to this…unlike this author.

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Phil March 19, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I bet you could go on and on…since most of your post is personal insults or responses to a few cherry picked statements which ignore everything written (and pictured) to support them. You make a point about the paint. The rest is a demonstration of poor reading comprehension.

It’s so brave of you to post your name, by the way, considering your livelihood depends on name recognition and the effectiveness of training with Kettlebells. That’s compared to the “coward” Thomas, who doesn’t appear to have any financial incentive to host this blog or insult kettlebells.

Sheesh, and I thought he was being harsh when he kept using the term “zealots”.

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James F. Thomas March 18, 2014 at 9:04 am

Being a exercise scientist I just want to know what research studies this article was written upon for support. This is a long blog of someones opinions, non of which are supported with citations to actual study findings or results.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The author seems biased and makes many unsubstantiated statements that are not able to be proven.

Next time you write use APA, MLA or some type of writting style and include your sources and then your arguments will be more than personal rants. Everyone is an expert on the internet.

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Phil March 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Perhaps as an exercise scientist you could add something of relevance to the conversation, rather than complaining about a blog opinion author not citing any sources.

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JD March 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Marvellous article. Tell me – what’s your opinion of Girevoy Sport?

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joe daniels March 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm

some logical, many illogical points of view…..

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Phil March 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Yep…and also many links like yours to sites full of kettlebell propaganda that just also happen to be selling kettlebell training and products. Did you have any counterpoints to what has been written here? Or do you only share that on your site where you can control any discussion?

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Dave March 21, 2014 at 10:38 am

To state that dbs are better than kbs is to state that apples are better than oranges. While both of these things involve weight that is where the similarity ends. As with all Phys methods there are often advocates who blindly and way way too enthusiastically insist that theirs is the best by far. Plainly any regime benefits from a variety of different exercises and equipment. Kbs are undeniably good for developing explosive movements in a way dbs are not, but then dbs are better for bulk in a way that is very awkward and prohibitively expensive with kbs. I see NO logic in limiting yourself to a particular piece of equipment or advocating one piece of equipment over another. Like anything related to physical exercise, it really depends on what you want the outcome to be. As a rule having been lifting for 10 years now, I am immediately sceptical about anyone who is over enthusiastic or dismissive of any method. What does the science say?

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Phil March 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm

You obviously missed the name of this website. It’s at the top in big black bold letters. Since you are also stating that kettlebell moves can’t be done without kettlebells, it’s also obvious you didn’t read the article.

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Bob the Builder April 12, 2014 at 7:57 am

Everybody has an opinion on things but whoever wrote this article is pretty damn arrogant and obviously didn’t do a lot of research or actually test it. I’ve been to NFL training faculties and guess what I’ve seen in there. Kettlebells and I’ve worked with MMA fighters and they to use kettlebells, Along with the elite in the military that also use them. Nobody uses just one thing to get to the top, they use every tool they have to make them better. KBs happen to be a very good tool to make any professional stronger, faster, and keep them going longer. Being elite isn’t about using one thing or being great at just one thing. What makes them elite is being good with everything and good at everything.

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