Recently our team discussed how kettlebells can be used in the strength and conditioning field to improve strength, power, mobility, and muscular endurance. With proper implementation, the kettlebell can make a fun and challenging addition to any strength and conditioning program.
Here at Bullet Performance Training, we implement kettlebell training for several reasons. We use the kettlebell swing to teach and promote explosive power, especially through the hips and posterior chain. This movement is fantastic for teaching and promoting the horizontal acceleration and building the muscles of the back, glutes, and hamstrings. The placement of the weight on the handle acts as an extension of the arm, so we can use the kettlebell for fluid, athletic movements. This makes it a great tool for complexes as it is easy to transition from one exercise to the next without losing momentum. We also use kettlebells because they are low-impact. This makes them great for clients who cannot take the impact of lower body plyometrics, but still want or need to perform an explosive lower body movement. This could be an athlete coming back from an injury who still wants to work on explosive power but isn't ready to take the impact of a jump. Another reason we implement kettlebell training is that it bridges the gap between strength and endurance, which mimics the demands of sports such as hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and basketball to name a few.
The swing isn't the only way in which we use the kettlebell here at BPT. We also incorporate the kettlebell into full-body strength and stability movements such as carries and lunges and squat variations. We can place the kettlebell in several positions when performing these exercises to activate and promote stability in different areas. Placing the kettlebell overhead and in the "waiters" position will create strength and stability through the shoulder joint and muscles of the rotator cuff. Placing the kettlebell in the "racked" position, where the thumb sits at the clavicle and the kettlebell between the biceps and wrist, promotes a lot of core involvement and works the adductors of the shoulder. Holding the kettlebell at our side helps us work on core and grip strength. All of these movements also promote strength and stability in the ankles, knees, and hips as well as grip strength. We often use kettlebells asymmetrically to promote things such as balance, coordination, focus, and also to promote core muscle recruitment and identify muscle imbalances.
We use kettlebells at various points of our training sessions and for different reasons. We incorporate kettlebells into the warm-up to promote blood flow, activate muscles, and mobilize joints. During the training session, they are used for explosive power and full-body strength and stability through exercises such as swings, squats, carries, and lunges. Kettlebells also make a great conditioning tool as they can be performed in high volume with little impact on the joints of the body. This is ideal for individuals trying to lose weight, as they can burn a lot of calories without stressing the joints. It is also great for athletes who need conditioning but are already performing the high-impact movement at practice or during games.
In the future, we plan on using the kettlebell as a rotational tool to mimic movements in sports such as golf, baseball, and tennis. The ability to rotate the hips in these sports is what creates the torque necessary to drive a ball in the gap, hit the perfect tee shot, and crush a forehand over the net for a game-winner.