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The Fit 5: Kettlebell Basics

Our fitness expert answers your questions about the basics of kettlebell training.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Mike Stehle, ATC, CKT-2 and founder of Training Room Online of Avon and Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey answers questions about the basics of kettlebell training.

1) Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells — asked by Andy Baker What are the major differences between kettlebells and dumbbells?
“Both are great tools for strength. The biggest difference is the shape of the kettlebell which allows for unique movements such as the swing to build a posterior chain (the entire back of the body) of steel. This unique design also allows for smooth transitions between movements such as fun passing, flipping, tossing (outdoors only) or juggling of the kettlebell. The thickness of the handle is also great for building an iron grip for a bone crushing handshake.”
2) Staple Kettlebell Exercises — asked by Timothy Bonner What are the staple exercises/best exercises with kettlebells?
"The best exercises are always the basics. The basics get the best results and progression is easily measured. An effective full body strength and conditioning program should contain the following movement components: A hip hinge for posterior chain strength which you would get from the kettlebell swing, an upper body push/pull which you would get from the press, a lower body push which is provided by the kettlebell front squat or goblet squat. The get up provides a combination of strength, balance, mobility, and stability. The get up is such great movement that Gray Cook, founder of Functional Movement Screen (FMS)uses it as part of his movement assessment arsenal."
3) Kettlebells for Runners — asked by Santiago Enrique Rios Would you name the top three or four kettlebell exercises or movements that will benefit an ultra-runner?
"I don’t claim to be an expert on running, but with 24 years of the professional Athletic Training under my belt, I do understand that all runners require a strong posterior chain in order to maintain the posture to keep them running tall and efficiently for many miles. The swing provides this. Most ultra runners cannot dedicate much time to the weight room so there is a need for effective and time efficient exercises that provide great 'bang for the buck' and only require one kettlebell. The goblet squat and get up will get the job done. The combination of these big three will work every muscle in your body."
4) Purchasing Kettlebells — asked by Chris McIntyre Where can I get the cheapest kettlebells?
"Owning 2 Kettlebell focused gyms, we are always looking to save a few bucks on bells. But it is not always best to buy the 'cheapest' kettlebells. After all, you do get what you pay for and there is a difference in quality of kettlebells. The biggest thing I hear complaints about is the cost of shipping. The best deals we have come across have been on craigslist.com, and free shipping sales from performbetter.com. Other companies such as musclediverusa.com have reasonably priced bells."
5) Beginner Weights — asked by Luis Gabriel Castro Cabestany What size/weight should a beginner use?
“Here is our general rule of thumb for those who have done some type of conventional strength training but are entirely new to kettlebells. Weight is in kg's. 1kg = 2.2 lbs. • Adult females: 8-12 kgs • Adult Males: 14-16 kgs • Teenage Females: 8-10kgs • Teenage Males: 10-14 kgs If the trainee is completely new to any type of strength training, they will be at the low end of the range listed above."

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