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Kettlebell Training: A Brief Review

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Kettlebell training is a relatively new trend that aims to serve many functions in training programs, including increasing muscular strength and power to improving aerobic capacity. Kettlebell training may provide a sufficient stimulus for enhancing both muscular and aerobic performance, possibly with the greatest effect on muscular power. The principle of specificity is discussed in detail as the specific design of a kettlebell program may influence the specific outcomes experienced by those performing kettlebell training. Further research comparing kettlebell training to other training methods may provide a better understanding of the benefits of this training modality in order to draw more definitive conclusions.
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Eckert RM and Snarr RL Kettlebell training: A brief review.
J Sport Human Perf 2016; 4(3):1-10.
1
KETTLEBELL TRAINING: A BRIEF REVIEW
Eckert RM1 and Snarr RL1,2
1School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
2Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
.
Keywords: strength, power, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity
INTRODUCTION
The original use of kettlebells dates
back to the early 1700’s in Russia where they
were used as a counterweight for produce
scales, rather than as a method of improving
fitness (6). At some point after their initial
introduction, individuals began to incorporate
them into training regimens aimed at
improving fitness; however, the use of
kettlebells was limited to primarily Russian
athletes and military personnel (6). The use of
kettlebells to improve fitness in the United
States is still a recent trend (4,12). The
increasing use of kettlebells and of kettlebell
training may be partially attributable to the
increasing popularity of “functional training”
in the United States in recent years.
Kettlebells are a ball-shaped weight
and handle traditionally composed of cast-
iron, but have recently been made from
rubber and plastics as well (6). Like most
traditional free weights (i.e., barbells and
dumbbells), they are highly versatile in that
they allow for a wide range of movements
and exercises with a minimal amount of
equipment and space requirements (8,12).
The kettlebell, however, is unique in that the
center of mass extends beyond the handle,
which allows for a variety of swinging and
ballistic movements to be performed.
Kettlebells can be used as an alternative to
dumbbells or barbells for traditional
resistance training movements (e.g., presses,
rows, squats, and deadlifts); however, they
also allow the exerciser to perform a range of
ballistic movements (e.g., two-handed swings,
BREIF REVIEW OPEN ACCESS
ABSTRACT
Kettlebell training is a relatively new trend that aims to serve many functions in training
programs, including increasing muscular strength and power to improving aerobic capacity.
Kettlebell training may provide a sufficient stimulus for enhancing both muscular and aerobic
performance, possibly with the greatest effect on muscular power. The principle of specificity is
discussed in detail as the specific design of a kettlebell program may influence the specific outcomes
experienced by those performing kettlebell training. Further research comparing kettlebell training to
other training methods may provide a better understanding of the benefits of this training modality in
order to draw more definitive conclusions.
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one-handed swings, clean and presses,
snatches, high-pulls).
Reported benefits of kettlebell use
include improvements in muscular fitness as
well as aerobic fitness. Compared to other
common methods of resistance and aerobic
training modalities, the research supporting
the efficacy of kettlebell training is scarce. As
the use of kettlebells increases in a variety of
settings, including commercial fitness and
strength and conditioning, research is needed
to support the effects of this training modality
on a range of fitness and performance
components. Therefore, the purpose of this
review is to summarize the efficacy of
kettlebell training for increasing muscular
power, strength, muscular endurance, and
aerobic capacity. Table 1 provides a brief
summary of each study that is included and
will be discussed in this review.
EFFECTS OF KETTLEBELL TRAINING
ON PERFORMANCE
Muscular Strength and Power
The use of kettlebells in training
programs has been shown to enhance
muscular strength and muscular power
(14,15,18,19). Manocchia et al (18) has
demonstrated significant improvements in
3RM bench press (51.7 ± 25.0 kg vs. 56.4 ±
27.1 kg, p< .05) and 3RM clean and jerk
(30.8 ± 16.7 kg vs. 38.5 ± 17.1 kg, p< .001)
performance with a 10-week kettlebell
training program. Otto et al (19) has
demonstrated increases in maximal back
squat and maximal power clean while also
showing improvements in vertical jump with
a progressive 6-week kettlebell training
program. This study was designed to compare
two groups, a kettlebell (KB) group and a
weightlifting (WL) group. Maximal power
clean and back squat improved significantly
in both training groups; however, the WL
group experienced a greater increase in back
squat strength from pre- to post-test (KB:
124.24 ± 31.20 kg vs. 129.82 ± 27.88 kg;
WL: 133.08 ± 30.38 kg vs. 151.15 ± 32.41
kg). Other investigations have concluded that
kettlebell training can improve muscular
power and rate of force development (15) as
well as muscular strength (14); however,
kettlebell training seems to have a greater
effect on power compared to strength (19).
Typically, kettlebell exercises (e.g.,
swings, cleans, snatches, push-presses, high-
pulls) are performed in a ballistic manner in
which the stretch-shortening cycle is elicited
due to the rapid concentric movement
immediately following the eccentric
countermovement (16,17). Although the
research is limited, this may help explain the
greater consistency in the research regarding
the effects of kettlebell training on
improvements in muscular power. Training
for muscular strength requires significant
loading of the musculature, typically with
loads between 60%-80% of 1RM or greater
depending on training status (1,2). When
performing ballistic movements with a
kettlebell (e.g., clean and press, snatch, push-
press, two-handed swing, one-handed swing),
this magnitude of loading is not achieved due
to the rapid nature of the exercise and the
need for a high movement velocity. In
research investigations it seems important to
distinguish between the types of exercises that
are being performed with a kettlebell as doing
so will help to clarify the function of the
kettlebell and its purpose for inclusion in the
training program.
Alternatively, kettlebells may be used
in place of dumbbells or other free weights
while performing traditional resistance
exercises with the goal of increasing muscular
strength as opposed to muscular power. It
would seem that performing traditional
resistance exercises with higher loads and
lower velocities would have a greater effect
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on muscular strength compared to muscular
power as the kettlebell is simply replacing a
dumbbell or barbell. Much of the original
research into kettlebell training uses the two-
handed swing, one-handed swing, clean, or
snatch (14,15,19) when examining the effects
of this training modality on muscular strength
and power. However, some of these studies
have also included more traditional resistance
exercises such as squats or presses (14,19).
The selection of kettlebell exercises for a
training program would have a significant
influence on the specific muscular adaptations
experienced by the participants. This might
help to explain why kettlebell training seems
to have a greater effect on muscular power, as
much of the research that has been done with
kettlebells has involved primarily ballistic
movements performed at higher movement
velocities as opposed to traditional resistance
exercises performed at lower movement
velocities.
Muscular Endurance
The studies that have investigated the
effects of kettlebell training on muscular
endurance (5,18) often study this component
of muscular performance in addition to other
components as well (i.e., strength and power).
Despite this, kettlebell training has
demonstrated significant improvements in
muscular endurance. Manocchia et al (18) has
demonstrated improvements in the number of
repetitions of back extension to failure (PRE:
45 ± 5.7 reps vs. POST: 54 ± 9.3 reps) after a
10-week kettlebell training program that
consisted of two sessions each week. Beltz et
al (5) showed improvements in the muscular
endurance of the abdominals after participants
completed an 8-week kettlebell training
program. Both of these studies demonstrate
the potential for kettlebell training to improve
muscular endurance, although the
improvements in endurance were limited to
the musculature of the torso (i.e., abdominals
and back extensors).
In the studies that examined the
effects of kettlebell training on muscular
endurance, detailed descriptions of the
exercise prescription used throughout the
duration of the study were not provided. The
exercise prescription, particularly the number
of sets and repetitions as well as the loads
used, would be important to know as these
variables would have the potential to
influence the outcomes. In regards to
muscular endurance, lighter loads coupled
with a higher number of repetitions (e.g., 15-
25) have been shown to be most successful at
improving muscular endurance (1). The
magnitude of the improvements in muscular
endurance could change with a program that
is more focused towards improving this
specific component of muscular performance.
The specific kettlebell exercise prescriptions
are not know for the studies examined in this
review, which limits the ability to draw firm
conclusions in regards to the effectiveness of
kettlebell training on improving muscular
endurance.
Aerobic Capacity
Kettlebell training has demonstrated
the potential to improve aerobic performance,
although the research is somewhat
conflicting. For example, Beltz et al (5)
demonstrated significant improvements in
VO2 max compared to a control group after 8
weeks of kettlebell training, while Jay et al
(14) demonstrated no significant
improvements in VO2 max after 8 weeks of
kettlebell training. Both of these studies were
of the same duration, but Jay et al (14) had
participants perform total-body kettlebell
workouts 3 times each week for 15-20
minutes each session while Beltz et al (5) had
participants perform total-body kettlebell
workouts 2 times each week for 30-45
minutes. The kettlebell program performed by
those in the study by Beltz et al (5) was of a
longer duration but lesser frequency. The
cause of the observed difference in outcomes,
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therefore, might not be explained by
differences in weekly training volume as both
studies had participants perform similar total
weekly training volumes. The significant
improvements in aerobic capacity
demonstrated by Beltz et al could be better
explained by differences in the prescribed
sets, repetitions and rest periods between
studies (only Jay et al (14) reported these
specific details), or by other differences that
existed between the 2 studies (e.g., training
experience of participants, baseline fitness
levels of the participants, choice of exercises,
etc.).
Despite these conflicting results,
kettlebell training may elicit a cardiovascular
and metabolic response sufficient for
improvements in aerobic performance
(7,9,10,11,13,20,21). A typical kettlebell
routine used in many of the included research
investigations involved 15-60 seconds of
exercise using a dynamic, total-body KB
exercise (e.g., two-handed swing, one-handed
swing, snatch, clean and press, etc.) followed
by 15-60 seconds of rest, repeated for 10-20
minutes (7,9,11,13,14,20,21). The American
College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
recommends that, for improvements in
cardiovascular fitness, aerobic exercise
should be performed at an intensity of
moderate (64%-76% HR max; 46%-65% VO2
max) or vigorous (76%-96% HR max; 64%-
91% VO2 max) in bouts of at least 10 minutes
duration (2). The cardiovascular responses to
the kettlebell routines included in this study
would all be classified as at least moderate- or
vigorous-intensity. In particular, Farrar et al
(9) and Fortner et al (10) demonstrated a
vigorous-intensity cardiovascular response as
evidenced by VO2 achieved by the
participants. Husley et al (13) compared a
kettlebell routine with treadmill running at an
equivalent rating of perceived exertion (RPE).
Both groups achieved a vigorous-intensity
cardiovascular response as evidenced by heart
rate (HR) (kettlebell group: 89% HR max,
treadmill group: 90% HR max). Fung et al
(11) and Schnettler et al (20) also showed that
a kettlebell routine could elicit a vigorous-
intensity response in its participants (average
HR response was 88% HR max and 93+/-
4.5% HR max respectively). It would seem
that as long as a kettlebell training routine is
performed for an appropriate duration and
intensity (i.e., >10 minutes duration and at
least moderate-intensity), it may provide a
sufficient stimulus for improving aerobic
capacity.
Interestingly, Fung et al (11) also
demonstrated that the weight of the kettlebell
used in relation to body weight affected the
type of cardiovascular response. The authors
of this research found that using a kettlebell
resistance of >13% of the participant’s body
weight elicited a more anaerobic response as
evidenced by a respiratory quotient (RQ) of
>1.0. While both aerobic and anaerobic
cardiovascular exercise are potent stimuli for
increasing aerobic capacity (3), these results
point to the importance of intensity (load)
during kettlebell training as heavier loads may
elicit different responses and, therefore,
different adaptations.
CONCLUSION
Based on the available literature
regarding kettlebell training and its effect on
muscular and aerobic performance, it seems
that there is efficacy regarding improvements
in muscular strength, power, endurance, and
aerobic capacity. The inclusion of kettlebells
in a training program may have more merit
when the goal is an increase in muscular
power or rate of force development compared
to muscular strength due to the ballistic nature
of typical kettlebell exercises (17,19).
Kettlebell training may have the potential to
increase muscular endurance, but this area of
research is very limited. The specific nature
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of the KB program (i.e., frequency, intensity,
duration, etc.) will elicit specific
cardiovascular and metabolic responses (e.g.,
elevated heart rate and oxygen consumption),
with greater demands being placed on
anaerobic energy pathways when the
resistance of the KB load is heavier (e.g.,
>13% body weight). However, it seems that
kettlebell training does have the potential to
improve aerobic capacity, regardless of the
energy pathway that is emphasized during
training (5,9,10,11,13,20,21).
The principle of specificity is an
important consideration when prescribing any
type of exercise program. Therefore, it makes
sense that the specific nature of the kettlebell
training prescription results in specific
adaptations. Kettlebell training may have a
place in training programs regardless of goal,
just as long as the principle of specificity is
adhered to. When training for muscular
power, ballistic movements performed at
higher movement velocities should be utilized
(1). Improving muscular strength requires a
significant loading of the musculoskeletal
system; therefore, heavier loads and slower
movement velocities should be used with
more traditional resistance exercises (e.g.,
squats, presses, rows, etc.) (1). When training
for muscular endurance, higher repetitions
(e.g., 15-25) and lighter loads will be needed
to maximize improvements in this component
of muscular performance (1). Finally,
kettlebell training designed to improve
aerobic performance should be of a sufficient
duration (e.g., >10 minutes) and of an
appropriate intensity (e.g., moderate-
/vigorous-intensity) (2).
Future studies involving kettlebells
and kettlebell training should employ
randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in order
to directly compare kettlebell training with
other training modalities. The number of
RCTs comparing kettlebell training is very
limited, and very few studies included in this
review have utilized this study design. Future
research should also aim to identify the
optimal kettlebell training prescription for
each component of muscular and aerobic
performance. The optimal frequency,
intensity, duration, and type of kettlebell
exercise should be identified for improving
muscular power, muscular strength, muscular
endurance, and aerobic capacity. Research
investigators should also be very detailed in
describing the specific kettlebell prescription
that is used as this will help in determining an
optimal exercise prescription. Promising
research has been done thus far with kettlebell
training, however, further research is required
in order to draw more definitive conclusions
regarding the efficacy of kettlebell training
and its effects on human performance.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors report no sources of
funding or conflicts of interest. The results of
this review do not constitute endorsement of
any products by the authors or the Journal of
Sport and Human Performance.
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Table 1. Summary of Investigations into the Effects of KB Training
Study/Purpose
Subjects
Training Protocol
Results
Beltz et al. (5)
Purpose:
To analyze the fitness benefits of KB
training
30 healthy adults
(15 male, 15
female; age range
19-25 years) with
some strength
training experience
Experimental group (n = 18) performed 8 weeks of
two, 30-45 minute KB sessions each week; KB
exercises: one- and two-handed swings, snatches,
cleans, presses, lunges and Turkish get-ups
Experimental group significantly increased
VO2 max, leg press, grip strength, and
abdominal endurance compared to the
control group
Budnar et al. (7)
Purpose:
To examine the acute metabolic,
testosterone (T), growth hormone (GH)
and cortisol (C) response to a KB swing
exercise session
10 recreationally
resistance trained
males (mean age
24+/- 4 years)
1 session of 12 rounds of KB swings with a 16 kg KB;
30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest
Blood lactate was higher immediately post
compared to pre; T was higher immediately
post compared to pre; GH was higher
immediately post compared to pre; C was
higher immediately post compared to pre
Farrar et al. (9)
Purpose:
To examine the cardiorespiratory demand
of a popularly recommended KB routine
10 college-aged
males (age range
20.8+/1.1 years)
As many two-handed KB swings as possible in 12
minutes with a 16 kg KB while expired gasses and
HR were analyzed
Subjects achieved a VO2 of 34.31 +/- 5.67
ml/kg/min and an average HR of 165 +/- 13
bpm
Fortner et al. (10)
Purpose:
To compare the acute metabolic and
cardiovascular effects of a Tabata-style KB
swing interval protocol with a traditional
KB swing protocol
15 adults (age
range 18-25 years)
with at least 6
months of
resistance training,
but no previous KB
training experience
Tabata protocol: 4 minutes of KB swings (20 seconds
of work, 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times);
Traditional protocol: 4 sets of KB swings (# of reps
from Tabata divided by 4 sets) with 90 seconds of rest
between sets
Tabata intervals elicited a vigorous-
intensity cardiovascular response as
evidenced by % VO2 peak (71.0+/-0.3%)
Fung et al. (11)
Purpose:
To examine the aerobic and anaerobic
work during KB exercise
8 healthy adults
(age range 2533
years)
Three 6 minute cycles of a KB ‘snatch’, ‘clean to
press’, and ‘swing’; each exercise was performed for
30 seconds with 30 seconds of rest
HR reached 88% of age-predicted
maximum and VO2 reached an average of
23.8 +/- 0.9 ml/kg/min; RQ was measured
at 1.1 +/- 0.006
Husley et al. (13)
Purpose:
To compare the metabolic demand of a
typical KB routine with treadmill (TM)
running at an equivalent RPE
13 adults (11 male,
2 female; mean age
21.4+/- 2.1 years)
10 minute KB swings (35 seconds of work:25 seconds
of rest; men used 16 kg KB, women used 8 kg KB)
compared to 10 minute TM run at equivalent RPE
(TM run performed on separate day)
No difference in avg. HR and RPE between
KB and TM; average HR for TM was 90%
HR max compared to 89% HR max for KB
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Study/Purpose
Subjects
Training Protocol
Results
Jay et al. (14)
Purpose:
To investigate the effectiveness of a KB
intervention and its effects on
musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health
40 adults (6 male,
34 female; mean
age of 44 years)
8 weeks of 3 full-body sessions/week consisting of
15-20 minutes of two-handed swings, one-handed
swings, and deadlifts; each exercise was performed
for 30 seconds with 30-60 seconds of rest
KB training group increased muscular
strength of the trunk extensors compared to
control; VO2 remained unchanged within
both
Jay et al. (15)
Purpose:
To investigate the effects of a worksite KB
intervention on postural perturbations and
jump performance
40 adults (6 male,
34 female; mean
age of 44 years)
8 weeks of 3 sessions/week consisting of 10-15
minutes of 30 second work periods followed by 30-60
seconds rest periods; two-handed swings and one-
handed swings performed in a progressive fashion
Maximal jump height increased
significantly in the intervention group;
however, this increase was not significant
when compared to the control group
Lake et al. (16)
Purpose:
To establish the mechanical demands of
the KB swing exercise compared to a back
squat and vertical jump
16 physically
active males (mean
age of 24+/- 2
years); all subjects
had at least 6
months of KB
exercise, back
squat, and jump
squat experience
2 sets of 10 repetitions KB swings (16, 24, and 32 kg
KB) compared to multiple repetitions of back squats
(20, 40, 60, 80% 1RM) and jump squats (body-
weight, 20, 40, 60% 1RM)
Peak force applied was maximized with the
back squat; peak and mean power output
with the KB swing were comparable to the
jump squat and both were greater than the
back squat
McGill et al. (17)
Purpose:
To quantify the spinal loading and muscle
activation patterns during different KB
exercises
7 healthy males
(mean age of
25.6+/-3.4 years)
KB swing variations, one-handed snatches, and
carries were performed using a 16 kg KB
KB swing produces hip hinge pattern
characterized by rapid muscle activation-
relaxation cycles of substantial magnitudes
(50% MVC of low-back extensors, 80%
MVC of gluteal muscles)
Manocchia et al. (18)
Purpose:
To examine the effects of a 10-week KB
program on muscular strength, power and
endurance
15 adults with
varying levels of
fitness (age range
of 20-72 years)
10-weeks of 2 sessions/week, periodized, group
exercise program consisting of KB exercises only
Significant increases in the barbell bench
press, clean and jerk and back extension
endurance; no significant differences seen
in the vertical jump
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Study/Purpose
Subjects
Training Protocol
Results
Otto et al. (19)
Purpose:
To compare the effects of 6 weeks of
traditional weightlifting vs. KB training on
power, strength and anthropometric
measures
30 adult males (age
range of 19-26
years) with at least
1 year of resistance
training experience
6 weeks of 2 sessions/week, linear periodization
program; sets/reps ranged from 3-6/4-6 respectively
KB group: traditional swings, accelerated swings and
goblet squats
Weightlifting group: high pulls, power cleans and
back squats
Both groups significantly increased back
squat, vertical jump, and power clean
performance
Weightlifting group significantly increased
back squat compared to KB group
Schnettler et al. (20)
Purpose:
To analyze the energy cost and exercise
intensity of a KB workout
10 male and female
adults (age range
29-46 years)
considered
experienced in KB
training
20 minute routine consisting of KB snatches; 15
seconds of work followed by 15 seconds of rest,
repeated for 20 minutes
Participants achieved an average HR of
164+/-14.7 bpm (average of 93%+/-4.5%
HRmax), an average VO2 of 31.6+/-3.71
ml/kg/min (average of 78+/-8% of VO2
max), an average kcal expenditure/minute
of 13.6+/-3.08 and an average RPE of
15.9+/-2.21 (Borg scale)
Thomas et al. (21)
Purpose:
To determine if continuous prolonged KB
activity could be used to produce
cardiovascular stress similar to that of brisk
walking
10 adults (5 males,
5 females; age
range 21-31 years)
30 minutes of KB exercise; 3 continuous rounds of 10
minutes each consisting of 10 swings followed by 10
sumo-deadlifts
30 minutes TM walking; 3 rounds of 10 minutes each
at 4% grade; matched for VO2 achieved during KB
exercise
VO2, RER, kcal/min, and BP were similar
for KB and moderate-intensity TM exercise,
but RPE and HR were greater during KB
exercise
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... Kettlebell exercise is an alternative to performing functional power and strength exercises (Otto et al., 2012;Williams and Kraemer, 2015), and like RCT, it has been used to improve both aerobic capacity/power and maximal and explosive strength in physical fitness and sport performance facilities (Chan et al., 2018;Eckert and Snarr, 2016;Falatic et al., 2015;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019). A typical kettlebell session can involve 15-60 seconds of exercise using a dynamic, total-body kettlebell exercise (e.g., twohanded swing, one-handed swing, snatch, squat, clean and press, etc.) followed by 15-60 seconds of rest, repeated for 10-20 minutes (Eckert and Snarr, 2016;Falatic et al., 2015;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019). ...
... Kettlebell exercise is an alternative to performing functional power and strength exercises (Otto et al., 2012;Williams and Kraemer, 2015), and like RCT, it has been used to improve both aerobic capacity/power and maximal and explosive strength in physical fitness and sport performance facilities (Chan et al., 2018;Eckert and Snarr, 2016;Falatic et al., 2015;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019). A typical kettlebell session can involve 15-60 seconds of exercise using a dynamic, total-body kettlebell exercise (e.g., twohanded swing, one-handed swing, snatch, squat, clean and press, etc.) followed by 15-60 seconds of rest, repeated for 10-20 minutes (Eckert and Snarr, 2016;Falatic et al., 2015;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019). As a consequence, kettlebell exercise may elicit cardiovascular, neuromuscular, and metabolic responses sufficient for improvements in strength, aerobic power, and overall physical fitness (Chan et al., 2018;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019). ...
... For these reasons, many strength and conditioning professionals have encouraged the use of kettlebell training as a useful tool in order to improve muscular strength, power and maximum oxygen uptake (Chan et al., 2018;Eckert and Snarr, 2016;Falatic et al., 2015;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019). For example, Otto et al. (2012) compared the effects of 6 weeks of traditional weightlifting with kettlebell training, in healthy men, on strength (back squat 1RM) and power (vertical jump and power clean 1RM) and showed that both types of activity were effective in increasing these abilities. ...
... Kettlebell exercise can be used to improve and maintain aerobic capacity and power and maximal and explosive strength and mental health (15,21,22,25). A typical kettlebell session can involve 15-60 seconds of physical exercise using a dynamic total-body kettlebell exercise, followed by 15-60 seconds of rest, repeated for 10-20 minutes (9,11,15,21,22), and can be performed 2-3 times a week. With these characteristics, the kettlebell might be an exercise tool of interest to the field of public health (as an inexpensive and low-cost alternative). ...
... It is important to maintain good movement execution and respect the suggested training plan ( Figure 2). The physical training plan and protocol could be divided into 4 phases: adaptation (2 weeks); specific phase 1 (2 weeks); specific phase 2 (4 weeks); and specific phase 3 (4 weeks) (9,11,15,21,22). ...
Article
The coronavirus pandemic and the adopted social isolation to contain the virus spread led to several negative consequences including the decrease in the population's physical activity levels and increased physical inactivity and sedentary behavior. Home-based physical exercise assumes fundamental importance to maintain physical activity and fitness levels. Among the various exercise possibilities of home-based exercise, the kettlebell exercise can be a useful and low-cost tool. The kettlebell is a round-shaped steel or cast-iron weight, commonly described as resembling a cannonball with a handle whose dimensions increase with weight that varies from 2 to 92 kg. Kettlebell exercise offers an opportunity to train multiple muscles through functional exercises that could be performed at home to improve and maintain health-related physical fitness (e.g., cardiorespiratory capacity, muscle strength, and body composition) and mental health. In addition, kettlebell exercise (with a progressive increase in training overload) could be an alternative of home-based exercise program for the general population during pandemic outbreaks.
... A typical kettlebell session can involve 15e60 s of physical exercise using a dynamic, total-body kettlebell exercise followed by 15e60 s of rest, repeated for 10e20 min (Levine et al., 2020;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019;Eckert and Snarr, 2016;Falatic et al., 2015). As a consequence, kettlebell exercise may elicit cardiovascular, neuromuscular, and metabolic responses sufficient for improvements in strength, aerobic power, and overall physical fitness (Levine et al., 2020;Rufo-Tavares et al., 2019;Chan et al., 2018). ...
... This was followed by a systematic review in 2015 of the effect of kettlebell training on strength, power, and endurance, which included 5 studies [160]. A brief review in 2016 had a broader scope, which included 14 publications to summarise the efficacy of kettlebell training for increasing muscular power, strength, muscular endurance, and aerobic capacity [161]. A 2017 mini narrative review sought to review the implications of kettlebell training for exercise programming [162] and finally, a 2018 review compared kettlebell training as a method of resistance training on hypertrophy, strength and power, to a range of other resistance training methods [163]. ...
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Background: A scoping review of scientific literature on the effects of kettlebell training. There are no authoritative guidelines or recommendations for using kettlebells within a primary care setting. Our review objectives were to identify the extent, range and nature of the available evidence, to report on the types of evidence currently available to inform clinical practice, to synthesise key concepts, and identify gaps in the research knowledge base. Methods: Following the PRISMA-ScR Checklist, we conducted a search of 10 electronic databases from inception to 1 February 2019. There were no exclusions in searching for publications. A single reviewer screened the literature and abstracted data from relevant publications. Articles were grouped and charted by concepts and themes relevant to primary care, and narratively synthesised. Effect sizes from longitudinal studies were identified or calculated, and randomised controlled trials assessed for methodological quality. Results: Eight hundred and twenty-nine records were identified to 1 February 2019. Four hundred and ninety-six were screened and 170 assessed for eligibility. Ninety-nine publications met the inclusion criteria. Effect sizes were typically trivial to small. One trial used a pragmatic hardstyle training program among healthy college-age participants. Two trials reported the effects of kettlebell training in clinical conditions. Thirty-three studies explicitly used 'hardstyle' techniques and 4 investigated kettlebell sport. Also included were 6 reviews, 22 clinical/expert opinions and 3 case reports of injury. Two reviewers independently evaluated studies using a modified Downs & Black checklist. Conclusions: A small number of longitudinal studies, which are largely underpowered and of low methodological quality, provide the evidence-informed therapist with little guidance to inform the therapeutic prescription of kettlebells within primary care. Confidence in reported effects is low to very low. The strength of recommendation for kettlebell training improving measures of physical function is weak, based on the current body of literature. Further research on reported effects is warranted, with inclusion of clinical populations and investigations of musculoskeletal conditions common to primary care. There is a need for an externally valid, standardised approach to the training and testing of kettlebell interventions, which better informs the therapeutic use of kettlebells in primary care.
... For example, the kettlebell swing (used in the present study), involves substantial concentric force followed by an eccentric contraction to decelerate the weight at the end of the up-phase of the swing execution. 9 Furthermore, acute kettlebell exercise inputs greater demands on anaerobic energy pathways, reaching respiratory quotient values ≥ 1, as demonstrated from maximal kettlebell stress test, 28 mainly when the resistance is heavier. 29 lake and lauder 30 reinforced the benefits of kettlebell exercise due to a large mechanical demand that could make this activity a useful way for strength, power, and conditioning programs to develop the ability to rapidly apply force. ...
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BACKGROUND: Traditional strength and power training could be expensive and kettlebell exercise may be a more affordable, accessible, and low cost alternative. However, requires appropriate technique and intensity and could be difficult for novice users. Our aims were to evaluate the influence of systematized kettlebell training on strength and power variables and the effects of short-term detraining and determine the intensity training profile in all protocol phases. METHODS: Healthy and physically active women - without kettlebell experience (N.=17, body mass: 60.9±12.5 kg; height: 164.6±5.5 m; age: 26.0±5.0 years; body mass index: 22.3±3.8 kg/m²) were recruited. The study was organized in five successive phases: pre-kettlebell training (PRE), kettlebell training period (12 weeks), post-kettlebell training (POST), detraining period (four weeks), and evaluations post-kettlebell detraining (POST-D). The Wingate anaerobic test, standing long jump, abdominal strength, leg press, and handgrip strength tests were used. The training intensity it was controlled by rated of perceived exertion (RPE) and heart rate (HR). RESULTS: Absolute mean anaerobic power at POST was significantly (P<0.05) higher when compared to PRE. Relative mean power at POST-D was significantly (P<0.05) higher when compared to PRE. Jumping performance and lower limb and handgrip strengths were higher at POST than PRE. All of these variables were significantly (P<0.05) higher at POST-Dwhen compared to PRE. It was possible to classify the applied protocol, in the studied population, as of moderate intensity (by HR) and effort low to very intense (by RPE). CONCLUSIONS: Twelve weeks of kettlebell training improved maximal and isometric strength and muscle power and short-term detraining was not sufficient to reverse these positive adaptations in physically active and healthy women.
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Öz Bu çalışmada, kadın futbolcularda 12 haftalık kettlebell antrenmanlarının bazı fiziksel ve fizyolojik parametrelerinin zamana bağlı süreçteki etkilerinin incelenmesi amaçlanmıştır. Araştırmaya, düzenli antrenmanlara ve müsabakalara katılan 17-25 yaş arasında, denek grubu (n=15), kontrol grubu (n=15) olan 30 lisanslı kadın futbolcu gönüllü olarak katılmıştır. Denek ve kontrol gruplarının; sağ/sol el pençe kuvveti, bacak ve sırt kuvveti, esneklik, dikey sıçrama, vücut ağırlıkları, vücut yağ ve kas miktarı, VKİ, VO2maks, çeviklik ve sürat değerleri ön test ve son test olarak analiz edilmiştir. Çalışmadan elde edilen verilerin analizi için SPSS 25.0 istatistik paket programı kullanılmıştır. Deney ve kontrol gruplarının kendi içlerindeki karşılaştırılmalarında Eşleştirilmiş Örneklem t-Testi (Paired Sample t-Test), iki grubun karşılaştırılmasında ise Bağımsız Örneklem t-Testi (Independent Sample T-Test) yapılmıştır. Katılımcıların tanımlayıcı verileri minimum, maksimum, ortalama ve standart sapma değerleri gösterilmiştir. Anlamlılık değeri istatistiksel olarak p<0,05 olarak kabul edilmiştir. Denek grubun demografik bilgileri Yaş: 21,00 ± 2,00 yıl, Boy: 1,65 ± 0,03 cm ve Spor yaşı: 11,87 ±2,00 yıl, kontrol grubunun demografik bilgileri Yaş: 20,00 ± 2,25 yıl, Boy: 1,63 ± 0,04 cm ve Spor yaşı: 10,47 ±1,60 yıl olarak tespit edilmiştir. Her iki grubunda karşılaştırma sonuçları incelendiğinde 12 haftalık kettlebell antrenman programının sonunda sırt ve bacak kuvveti, sağ/sol el kavrama kuvveti, dikey sıçrama, VO2maks, çeviklik, sürat, vücut ağırlıkları ve VKİ değerlerinde istatistiksel olarak (p<0,05) düzeyinde anlamlı farklılıklar meydana gelmiştir. Katılımcılara 12 haftada, haftada 3 gün düzenli olarak yaptırılan kettlebell antrenman programının sağ/sol el kavrama kuvveti, sırt ve bacak kuvveti, dikey sıçrama, vücut ağırlıkları, VO2maks, çeviklik ve sürat değerleri üzerinde istatistiksel açıdan anlamlı bir etkinin olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Anahtar kelimeler: Kettlebell, Kettlebell antrenmanları, Kadın futbolu, Kuvvet, VO2maks.
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THE FOLLOWING COLUMN PROVIDES A DETAILED DESCRIPTION AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF PROPER EXERCISE TECHNIQUE AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR THE KETTLEBELL THRUSTER.
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Prevailing interest in the use of kettlebell (KB) exercises for rehabilitation as well as improvement of muscular strength has led to several recent studies, some suggesting that KB exercise may be useful for improvement of cardiorespiratory fitness. The purpose of the study was to determine whether KB exercise would produce similar cardiovascular stress to that of walking, and thus provide an additional exercise mode for improvement of cardiorespiratory fitness. It was hypothesized that a moderate-intensity, continuous KB protocol, would produce similar metabolic and cardiorespiratory responses as a brisk bout of graded treadmill walking, but greater rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Ten novice volunteers (5 men; 5 women) completed a preliminary session to determine body composition and VO2max and to familiarize participants with standardized, KB exercise technique. Subsequently they completed a 30-min KB session that included 3, continuous 10-min sets of 10 KB swings followed by 10 sumo deadlifts, with 3-min rests between 10-min exercise periods. The third session was a 30-min treadmill regimen that began at the walking speed and 4% grade that matched the VO2 from the KB session and included 3-min rest intervals following 10-min treadmill exercise periods. VO2, RER, kcal/min, and blood pressure were similar for KB and moderate-intensity treadmill exercise, but RPE and HR were greater during KB exercise. Data indicate that a KB routine consisting of two-hand swings and sumo deadlifts with 3-min rest periods, produces similar metabolic responses to those of a moderate-intensity treadmill walking protocol designed for improvement of aerobic fitness.
Article
Tabata (TAB) training, consisting of eight cycles of 20 seconds of maximal exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, is time-efficient, with aerobic and anaerobic benefit. This study investigated the cardiovascular and metabolic demands of a TAB versus traditional (TRAD) resistance protocol with the kettlebell swing. Fourteen young (18–25y), non-obese (BMI 25.7±0.8 kg/m²) participants reported on three occasions. All testing incorporated measurements of HR, oxygen consumption, and blood lactate accumulation. Each participant completed Tabata kettlebell swings (male- 8kg, female- 4.5kg; 8 intervals; 20s maximal repetitions, 10s rest). On a subsequent visit (TRAD), the total swings from the TAB protocol were evenly divided into 4 sets, with 90s rest between sets. Outcome measures were compared using paired t-tests. The TAB was completed more quickly than the TRAD protocol (240.0±0.0 v. 521.5±3.3 sec, P<0.01), at a higher perceived exertion (Borg RPE; 15.1±0.7 v. 11.7±0.9, P<0.01). The TAB elicited a higher average VO2 value (33.1±1.5 v. 27.2±1.6 ml/kg/min, P<0.01), percent of VO2peak achieved (71.0±0.3 v. 58.4±0.3%, P<0.01), maximal HR (162.4±4.6 v. 145.6±4.8 bpm, P<0.01), and post-exercise blood lactate concentration (6.4±1.1 v. 3.7±0.5 mmol/L, P<0.01). Conclusion The kettlebell swing demonstrated significantly greater cardiovascular and metabolic responses within a TAB vs. TRAD framework. Appropriate screening and risk stratification are advised before implementing kettlebell swings.
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STUDIES SUPPORT THE USE OF KETTLEBELLS FOR IMPROVING POWER, ALTHOUGH EVIDENCE FOR USING THEM TO IMPROVE STRENGTH AND AEROBIC FITNESS IS STILL EQUIVOCAL. STUDIES INVESTIGATING THE BIOMECHANICAL PROPERTIES OF KETTLEBELL TRAINING HAVE BEEN FRUITFUL, AND IT MAY BE USEFUL FOR DEVELOPING SPRINT RUNNING PERFORMANCE AND FOR INJURY PREVENTION. HOWEVER, WE STILL DO NOT KNOW THE OPTIMAL LOADS FOR MAXIMIZING SYSTEM AND JOINT POWER PRODUCTION, HOW THE MECHANICS, JOINT MOMENTS, AND ELECTROMYOGRAPHIC ACTIVITY CHANGES AS LOADS INCREASE DURING KETTLEBELL SWINGS, NOR WHETHER KETTLEBELL TRAINING TRANSFERS TO SPORTS PERFORMANCE.
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THE PURPOSE OF THIS COLUMN IS TO PROVIDE BASIC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PERSONAL TRAINERS AND STRENGTH COACHES ON HOW TO INTEGRATE KETTLEBELL TRAINING INTO THEIR CLIENTS' EXERCISE PROGRAMS. THIS COLUMN REVIEWS THE CURRENT LITERATURE ON KETTLEBELL TRAINING AND EXAMINES POTENTIAL BENEFITS FOR STRENGTH, POWER, MUSCULAR ENDURANCE, AND FAT LOSS. RECOMMENDATIONS ARE PROVIDED AS TO HOW KETTLEBELLS CAN BE EFFECTIVELY INTEGRATED INTO EXERCISE PROGRAM DESIGN. TECHNIQUE FOR PROPER AND SAFE PERFORMANCE OF SOME OF THE BASIC KETTLEBELL EXERCISES IS ADDRESSED.
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The purpose of this investigation was to examine the acute hormonal response to the kettlebell swing exercise. Ten recreationally resistance trained men (24±4 y, 175±6 cm, 78.7±9.9 kg) performed 12 rounds of 30 seconds of 16 kg kettlebell swings alternated with 30 seconds of rest. Blood samples were collected before (PRE), immediately after (IP), and 15 (P15) and 30 minutes after exercise (P30) and analyzed for testosterone (T), immunoreactive growth hormone (GH), cortisol (C), and lactate concentrations. Heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured at the end of each round. T was significantly higher (p < 0.05) at IP than at PRE, P15, or P30 (PRE: 28±3; IP: 32±4; P15: 29±3; P30: 27±3 nmol[BULLET OPERATOR]L). GH was higher at IP, P15, and P30 than at PRE (PRE: 0.1±0.1; IP: 1.8±1.2; P15: 2.1±1.1; P30: 1.6±1.3 μg[BULLET OPERATOR]L). C was higher at IP and P15 than at PRE and P30 (PRE: 617±266; IP: 894±354; P15: 875±243; P30: 645±285 nmol[BULLET OPERATOR]L). Lactate was higher at IP, P15, and P30 than at PRE (PRE: 1.1±0.5; IP: 7.0±3.0; P15: 4.0±2.7; P30: 2.5±1.8 mmol[BULLET OPERATOR]L). HR increased progressively from 57±12 at PRE to 170±10 at IP. The exercise protocol produced an acute increase in hormones involved in muscle adaptations. Thus, the kettlebell swing exercise might provide a good supplement to resistance training programs.
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The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a worksite intervention using kettlebell training to improve postural reactions to perturbation and jump performance.This single-blind randomized controlled trial involved 40 adults (n=40) from occupations with a high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and discomfort (mean age 44 years, body mass index 23 kg/m2, 85% women). A blinded examiner took measures at baseline and follow-up. Participants were randomly assigned to a training group - doing kettlebell swings three times a week for 8 weeks - or to a control group. The outcome measures were postural reactions to sudden perturbation and maximal countermovement jump height.Compared to the control group, the training group significant decreased stopping time following perturbation (-109ms, 95% CI [-196:-21]). Jump height increased significantly in the training group (1.5cm, 95% CI [0.5:2.5]), but this was non-significantly different from control.Kettlebell training improves postural reactions to sudden perturbation. Future studies should investigate whether kettlebell training can reduce the risk of low-back injury in occupations with manual material handling or patient handling where sudden perturbations often occur.