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Kettlebell – What Really Is

Kettlebell – the favorite of old school strongmen and truly underappreciated in the new age of the modern world. But what really is it and why it exists?

The kettlebell is a cast iron or cast steel ball with a handle attached to the top (resembling a cannonball with a handle). It is used to perform many types of exercises, including ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training. They are also the primary equipment used in the weightlifting sport of kettlebell lifting. But kettlebells were not always about strength training. They were originally created to be used at the grain sorting facilities as a means to weigh bags with grain on the weight scale.

The Russian girya (ги́ря, plural ги́ри giri) was a type of metal weight, primarily used to weigh crops in the 18th century. The use of such weights by circus strongmen is recorded for the 19th century. They began to be used for recreational and competition strength athletics in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century. The birth of competitive kettlebell lifting or grievous sport (гиревой спорт) is dated to 1885. Old school strongmen around the world came to realize how beneficial kettlebells are and were not shy in utilizing them in their strength training routines.

In fact, even though today we see only the basic type of “traditional” kettlebell design, back in the day there used to be all kinds of kettlebells in different shapes and sizes.

Professor Anthony Barker, for example, was selling his own production series in the United States, which was adjustable and had multiple levels of strain. These Anthony Barker Kettlebells were part of his “Strength-Maker Bar-Bell System” which is made up of one long barbell, one short barbell, and two ring weights.

The modern generation of athletes who exercise with kettlebells are truly a unique bunch who explore the old ways of doing things in their simple form. By their nature, typical kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength. The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real-world activities such as shoveling or farm work.

By Dormidont / 2020 for D&F Magazine

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