Typically when you think of "the best" strength-building exercises, an image of a barbell laden with a whole slew of 45s comes to mind. And sure, those bulbous handled weights can be heavy. But, kettlebells can be just as good of a muscle-pumping tool.
“Kettlebells build strength quickly because of how we train with them,” says Bob Garon, owner of Synergy Kettlebell Fitness in Northern Illinois. “The body must work to stabilize itself with each joint's smaller muscles supporting our big prime mover muscles, so they grow stronger as one unit.”
Not only that, they don’t even need to be insanely heavy to accomplish this. “Because kettlebell exercises provide much greater tension, a person can decrease their working load by 70% to 80% and still gain muscle strength and size because the overall recruitment of the musculoskeletal system is much higher,” says Philadelphia personal trainer Joe Kekoanui, owner of Huddle Reactive Sports Training and a certified Kettlebell Athletics instructor.
To choose your weight, start lighter and get your form down first. The most important thing is to be able to finish the work maintaining the same good form you start with. Once you’re a master at the swing/snatch/jerk, you can add weight from there. Try these strength-focused workouts, designed by Kekoanui and Garon.