Thursday, August 15, 2013

Answering The Bell!

Strength training and weight training have been around as long as man has walked on the face of the earth. While many different programs, exercises and equipment have come and gone, about the only constant thing over time has been resistance.  If you want to get stronger you have to have to place resistance on your muscles.
Like other things in life, strength training is not immune to advancing technologies.  Visit any health or fitness club today and you will see complicated, large and expensive machines that provide resistance training for improving muscle strength, tone and mass.  But is all of that really necessary?
When I think of strength training one of the visual images that comes to mind is the strong man that was a part of most circuses in the late 1800’s. The strong man was usually chiseled, bald, had a beard and could lift enormous amounts of weight with ease. So what was their secret to their overall strength?  The answer lies in one of the oldest and most pure forms of strength training and that is the old fashioned Kettlebell!
It’s interesting how workout trends come and go, and how a centuries old piece of cast iron has captured the spirit, interest and use of thousands of today’s exercisers.  That’s the way it seems to be going for the good old Kettlebell. It’s somewhat ironic that $30-$50 piece of exercise equipment can give you just as good if not better work out that millions of dollars of technology enhanced equipment.

According to Ace Fitness, these cannonball-shaped iron orbs with handles lifted in a swinging motion were developed by Russian strong men in the early 1700s as a way to quickly build strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. While traditional exercise equipment and exercise machines isolate muscle groups to be worked, Kettlebell routines are designed to strengthen multiple muscle groups and most exercises work your core and improve your balance while also improving cardio fitness.

You may be asking how such a simple piece of equipment can improve your overall strength. If you want proof rent the film epic 300 and take a look at the physique of lead actor Gerard Butler who plays King Leonidas of Sparta. Butler used kettlebells to prepare for his role in the film. But it’s not just Hollywood types who are getting into it. Kettlebell-themed fitness classes are now being offered at gyms across the country and can also be utilized in the comfort of your own home.

My recent introduction to kettlebells came when May purchased a book and began a strength training program with kettlebells. While the concept of strength training is rather simple, I was truly impressed with just how complete a workout a Kettlebell routine provides.  Not only do you have slow controlled moves, you work on your balance and receive a decent cardio workout as well.  It short, kettlebells seem to be new “super food” of strength training.

If you are looking for a great workout while improving your strength, balance and cardio, kettlebells are an affordable and effective workout.  In coming columns I will cover some Kettlebell exercises that will assist you in your strength training efforts.  While I can’t promise you will end up looking Gerard Butler, don’t count it out….if you think you can, you can!

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