It's time for another guest post. As we have been talking about cricket as a power sport, Scott Bird from Straighttothebar.com gives us the low down on a power developing tool: the kettlebell
Getting your first kettlebell
What exactly are they?
They're often referred to as a 'cannonball with a handle', which is a pretty good description. A kettlebell is usually (there are adjustable ones - avoid them) a solid chunk of cast iron, which comprises a spherical weight with a flat bottom and a curved, thick handle on top.
The weight distribution, as well as the thickness of the handle, gives a kettlebell a somewhat different feel to a dumbbell.
Kettlebells have traditionally been manufactured in various sizes, each of them based on the old Russian unit of measurement pood. A pood is equal to approximately 16.38 kilograms (36.11 pounds). The pood was abolished in the USSR in 1924, but many kettlebells are still manufactured in multiples of 16kg.
Where do you get them?
Although they've been around for some time, it's only recently that they've been seen in fairly regular use. Still, tracking them down can be slightly more difficult than finding something like dumbbells or weight plates.
In general, kettlebells are sold in stores specialising in supplies for martial artists, as well as larger online fitness retailers. In the UK, somewhere such as London Kettlebells is a good start in your search.
NB: they're heavy little things, and shipping costs can be considerable. Keep this in mind if you find somewhere fairly remote that appears to sell them cheaply.
Another thing to keep in mind is that they're virtually indestructible, and the design hasn't really changed over the centuries. If you see one on eBay, or your friend is selling one, grab it.
How do you know which one to get?
Men usually start out with a 16kg(36lb) bell - this is the one I have, and its harder than the weight would suggest. For anyone with a few years of weight training under their belt, or anyone over 183cm/6and about 90kg/198lb, a 24kg bell is worth considering. If you get a chance to try one out somewhere before you buy it, pick it up and clean it. Thatll give you a reasonable idea.
The female equivalents of the 16kg and 24kg are about 8kg and 12kg (on average - of course there are those who would easily work with more than this). Once again, if you can try before you buy, great. The thick handles and concentrated weight make a difference.
If you've already got a kettlebell and are considering a second, a typical progression (for men) is 16/24/32. Once you have these three, if you want more, start again at 16. There are plenty of exercises involving two bells, and many of these are easier with the same weight for each.
NB: younger athletes may wish to consider halving the recommended weights for adults (depending on their age, size and strength) - an 8/12/16 kg set would be a great start.
What do you do with them?
This is where the fun begins. There are plenty of books and DVDs you can buy; however to begin with, try some of the many freely discussed exercises available. If you find yourself hooked after a few months and want to take it tothe next level, by all means get out the credit card and go shopping.
In the meantime, here are a few resources to get you started :
Mike Mahler's list of kettlebell exercises
This will certainly keep you going for a while. The basic exercises are covered, and these alone are enough to really break a sweat.
Anthony DiLuglio's Minute of Strength
Here you'll find Anthony DiLuglio's kettlebell exercise of the week (on video). Still photos are great, but the video often reveals minor details which can really make a difference.
Finally, you might like to take a look at my own (regularly growing) list of kettlebell exercises. These include those that I perform regularly, as well as a few of the more interesting video demonstrations I've come across.
A closer look at how they might be used to benefit training both in-season and during the off-season will be the focus of an upcoming article. Until then, make sure you beome familiar with basic movements such as swings, cleans and presses. Those simple movements form the basis of many, many exercises.
If you have any questions on kettlebell training (and I've no doubt that you will), feel free to pop over to my site and let me know.
About the writer
Scott Bird is a freelance photographer, writer and fitness enthusiast based in sunny Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted via his online home at straighttothebar.com.© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008