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4 myths about kettlebell training

Its probably no secret that kettlebells are nowadays far more popular than what they have ever been. Never before in the centuries that it has existed, has it seen the kind of worldwide popularity that it enjoys today. Starting from the elite athletes to grandmas, all are today training with it, and benefitting. So as you can understand that anything that’s popular is going to have some myths going around about it. In this post I will try to break 4 myths about kettlebell training, some of which work in favour of kettlebells, while some myths that work against kettlebell training. 
1) Kettlebells have “magical” properties for fat loss-about a decade back when intense marketing for kb’s had started, you might have heard some kb instructors claim that kettlebells work like “magic” to get rid of bodyfat, and condition you like no other tool. The fact of the matter is that a kettlebell is an inanimate object, it does not move itself. When you buy one, you have to train with it, and train hard to get results.

No wonder then that you had these 5 pound kettlebells arrive in the market, and people were even fooled to think that it would work just because it was shaped like a kettlebell. Remember, that training with no intensity will not create any results just because it happens to be a kettlebell. You still need to use heavy enough bells, and it is you who will need to work hard to see your fat drop, and what you eat, still matters the most to lose fat.

2) Kettbells do not help build size- while it is true that for maximum size development barbells are still the best tool, simply due to its loading potential, it will be incorrect to say that kb’s have zero potential to help build muscular size. For example if you took the average man from the streets who cannot overhead press a pair of 88 pound kb’s even once, and made him work so that he can do 10 strict overhead presses with a pair 88 pounders, what do you think will happen to his upper body? Obviously, you will see more size in his upper body.

At the end of the day, the type of results that you see with a kettlebell will depend on the type of training you do with it. Using heavy bells in the 5-12 reps range for compound exercises, while performing the eccentric part of the lift in a slower and controlled manner will definitely create muscular growth. Now whether you choose to use kb’s primarily for conditioning or for growth, it is a matter of personal choice.

3) It produces better results in half the time- often this study done by ACE is given to prove that kb’s can produce better results in terms of fat loss and conditioning in as few as 20 minutes. While there is no doubt that the study demonstrates real results, some factors must be kept in mind. First, the study was done using a major compound movement- the snatch, and it was done in a rather aerobic manner, where the rest period was very brief. It would be very unfair to compare this type of a workout to a traditional dumbbell workout, where the trainee does some isolation exercise and takes the traditional 2-3 minutes rest. On the other hand if the study was compared to say another study done with a barbell complex routine, done for 20 minutes, I would like to think that the results would really not be drastically different. Again, more results in less time, will depend on what you are comparing it to in the first place.

4) It is too technical- no doubt that when you compare a barbell curl to a kettlebell snatch, the snatch is far more technical. However even a simple looking exercise like the barbell curl can be made very technical when you consider many factors like the angle of the wrist, position of the elbow under the shoulder, involvement of the lower back, etc. The point is that how perfect your technique needs to be depends on how far you wish you to go. If you wish to compete at the topmost levels of Girevoy sport, then obviously your technique needs to be good enough to compare with the top lifters in the world. On the other hand the average weekend warrior can get his or her desired results even with a much lesser level of perfection in technique. As long as his/her technique is good enough to ensure that there is no injury, I think they are good enough to train.

Similarly every time when someone says that the top GS athletes in the world can manage to do 100’s of reps in 10 minutes in the long cycle or the snatch, just due to good technique, it is again not true. Yes, good technique does help you to get many more reps, but it must be kept in mind that one still has to work very hard, and develop great strength and endurance in performing a lift to be awesome. For example if someone can do 10 snatches with a certain weight, then good technique by itself will not help them to do 100 snatches with that weight. They still need to consistently train hard to get stronger and conditioned to be able to do a 100 snatches.

Its not just about good technique, you need to work hard too

In the end I would like to say that please do not misunderstand me and think that I am trying to form a strong opinion for or against training with kb’s through this article. My aim was to help dispel some myths about training with kettbells, and help people realize that every tool has its benefits and drawbacks, and at the end of the day it is the person who uses it, and how he uses it, that makes all the difference. I personally love training with kb’s and am working towards getting my IKFF CKT certification soon, but what role it plays in your training should ultimately depend on your goals, needs, and wish.

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