Friday, March 23, 2012

New2U Cross-Training Challenge for March - Kettlebells

While I've tried quite a few things in the name of fitness in my past (a by-product of being on the planet for more than half a century), I had never tried Kettlebells. I had done some reading in the past on them, but just wasn't "sold" on their unique approach to fitness. I have a full rack of dumbbells at home, and although they mostly just keep the rack from flying up and hitting the ceiling, I had thought that they were pretty much the same.

However, there are just some kettlebell moves that one would be "challenged" to do with a dumbbell, so I went ahead and got one. At first I just got the one to the left, and a video with a kettlebell workout. A day or two later, after trying out some of the workouts, I learned that for me this just wasn't enough weight, so I picked up the one to the right as well.

Let's just say that an extra 10 pounds makes all the difference in the world.We all know that an extra 10 pounds around our middle makes difference, but when you start swinging these things around in a controlled fashion, that extra weight changes the whole nature of the workout.

I've done several workouts with these now, and they can be quite challenging. The two arm swing isn't too tough with the weight I have, but the one arm swing is a bit of work. I also do a type of "round the body" exercise where you pass the kettlebell from the left to the right hand in front waist high, then from the right to the left in the back at the same height. The figure eight between the legs is also an interesting one, but I have found that the Turkish Get Ups are some of the most challenging. The extra weight on this one really brings the core strength, stability, and concentration on form to bear and hits quite a few areas of the body at once.

There is even a version of a situp  (in the first 30 seconds of that video) where the kettlebell is held by the "horns" with straight arms above the chest while laying flat on your back. Then, while keeping your arms straight, sit upright and as you do, keep your arms straight and transition the kettlebell to being directly over your head (elbows by the ears)...then return to the beginning position with control. Three sets of 10 of these will remind you where your abs are. :-)

I tried the Goblet Squat with the 20 lb. kettlebell for 1 set of 10, and it felt good while doing it, however, later in the day I noticed my knees right at the apex of the patella had a burning sensation when I squatted down (even without weight). Also, it really worked my upper hamstrings and made them pretty sore (right under the glutes for about 2 to 3 inches). Since I have a long race coming up (fingers crossed), I won't be doing them again until after the race, but this is obviously a weak area for me as well (and I probably went a bit too low for me at this time, which is why the knees were sore). The knee pain lasted about three days (getting better each day), and is now fine. Could have been too heavy for this exercise as well.

This isn't something that I do every day, but I do plan to put this into the rotation of the other cross training I'm doing. It doesn't take a great deal of time to get quite a workout. The twisting and swinging motions take your body through unfamiliar movement patterns (at least they did mine), and the weight being on the end adds to that effect.

All in all, an interesting cross-training option, and not overly long as you aren't buying a complete set for home use (which could REALLY get pricey). I just bought one of each size for now, and we'll see how it goes.

Hopefully in the months ahead, I'll try things that just aren't for me. If not, I'll have to quit work since I simply won't have time to fit everything in otherwise. ;-)

Happy Running Everyone !


  1. My husband is a wrestling coach and his team works out with kettlebells...he loves them and has a few here at home. I have a hard time with them, however I am having a hard time with everything these day, lol...
    Hope you enjoy them...keep us posted ;) mixing things up is always good right?

    1. Even though I really like to laser-focus in on just one or two things (at least that is what I do when I'm on auto-pilot), I am finding that at my age and current fitness level that I REALLY need to mix things up in order to remain healthy and move forward.

      The kettlebells certainly are different though...surprisingly so for me. I really didn't understand just how different they work you. :-)

  2. Hi Michael,

    Are you still going to run the marathon? How have you been feeling lately?

    1. Bill,

      Perhaps against my better judgement, I will be running the marathon on Sunday morning. I have been able to run pain free since Wednesday of last week, although my left calf still feels a bit stiff during the early parts of the runs, with a slightly "full" feeling after the runs (not a great description, but the best I can "almost" feels like it is swollen and warm, only it isn't either of those things).

      Mentally I'm ready...probably 95%. From a fitness perspective, probably about the same or higher. From a health / injury perspective, probably at about 85-90%.

      A more cautious person might still choose to sit it out since it isn't like it was a lifelong goal race / event, and I'm just beginning to run pain free. Unfortunately, I'm not that person, so I'll be pitting myself against the course. I'm pretty sure I'll walk (limp?) away hurt at least to some level, but I'm told marathons are like that....part of their charm.

      I DO plan to come back VERY slowly though...I need to give my body time to recover from both the obvious and less than obvious traumas of the day.

      Thanks for asking, and I'm glad to hear you're doing better !!

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