Image of old kettlebells

Guest Post: The History of Kettlebells

The kettlebell is probably the weirdest looking of all gym weight training equipment. It looks like a cannonball with a handle on the top. The kettlebell is becoming more and more popular in gyms everywhere. This is because many trainers recommend it for a wide range of specialized strength building exercises. You can also lose fat with kettlebells use, especially on the arms and shoulders.

Earliest mentions of Kettlebells

The earliest object resembling a modern kettlebell is a relic from ancient Greece. A kettlebell weighing a whopping 315 pounds can be seen in Athens on display at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia. This kettlebell has an inscription on it that says “Bibon heaved up me above a head by one head“. The term kettlebell is first used and found in the Russian dictionary published in 1704 as the word “Girya,” which translates to “kettlebell” in English. However, no solid proof exists as to who invented the modern kettlebell.

Vladislav Kraevsky

Russian physician Vladislav Kraevsky is thought of as the founding father of weight training for the Olympics. He was the first to popularize Kettlebell exercises in the late 1800s after researching various exercise techniques from all over the world for nearly a decade. Vladislav Kraevsky introduced kettlebells and barbells for the first time as a fundamental part of his comprehensive fitness routine in weight training facilities that he established in Russia.

Russia’s mandatory kettlebell training

In the early 1900s, Russian Olympic weightlifters were seen using kettlebells to strengthen up and Russian soldiers used them to prepare physically for combat. The trend gained popularity and in 1981, the Russian government mandated kettlebell training as a way to improve total health and productivity for all its citizens. The Soviet Union held its first national championship kettlebell games in 1985 in Lipetsk, Russia.

The trend catches on in the U.S

In the United States of America, the kettlebell craze has only recently caught on. Its popularity has been boosted in no small part by having been seen used by several top celebrities including Sylvester Stallone, Vanessa Hudgens, Matthew McConaughey, and Jessica Biel among others. Personal fitness trainers have started to recommend kettlebell workouts to tone and strengthen the body.

Kettlebells as compared to Barbells

A kettlebell workout is different from training with barbells as it involves more muscle groups and uses a wider range of movement. Barbells generally target isolated muscle groups directly, like the biceps, whereas the kettlebell allows for swinging movement and full body exercises.

In addition, kettlebell exercises are superior to conventional weightlifting exercises as they can burn 20 more calories a minute. Despite all the benefits of using kettlebells, they are still not commonplace at gyms. Luckily more and more gyms have started carrying them, and some even hold specialized kettlebell classes. Since kettlebells are relatively more compact and portable, you can buy them for a relatively lower price and it might just be worth your while to buy a set of kettlebells for your own personal use.

Reference:
Beltz, Nick M.S. “ACE Sponsored Research Study: Kettlebells Kick Butt.” Dustin Erbes, M.S., John P. Porcari, et al., American Council on Exercise, April 2013

Author Bio:

Mr Tayyab is a Freelance Journalist and writes about Nutrition, Minerals and tools to help sportsmen.

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