Kettlebell Training, fun, effective and functional movement – Going old school at GPS Keep Fit Boot camp – By Jason Taylor
It can be more than a little overwhelming to enter a new gym or start a new class when there is so much choice of equipment, training systems and different views about how we can begin our fitness journey.
So why do we keep talking about functional movement? It is the route of entry to develop physical health and fitness effectively. Modern day life for most of us has engineered out any type of physical activity and that is why functional fitness training has become so essential. Most traditional gyms have tended to use methods and equipment which focussed on training muscle groups in isolation rather than collectively. This is a very limiting way to train the body.
Today we have a range of very simple training tools that can help us regain control of our bodies and ultimately our lives. Kettlebells, medicine balls, bands and of course my old time favourite bodyweight resistance. I have always believed in first principles and that’s best summed up by four letters, KISS, keep it short and simple. Kettlebells fit right in there.
Kettlebells are old (Girya in Russian) and have been widely used in Russia for centuries, though their roots can be traced back to ancient Greece. An iconic piece of equipment instantly recognised by the cannon ball shape (the bell) with a curved iron handle attached.
Used in Russian farming communities as weights to measure agricultural goods. Their popularity spread as a training tool. The bellwether standard weight was known as ‘one pood’ in today’s terms 35 lbs or a touch under 16 kgs. Knowledge spread slowly but eventually the US got the bug and in the early 2000s, KBs went mainstream after an article published by the Rolling Stones Magazine.
KB training promotes cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and ultimately body composition. I know what you’re thinking, that’s not bad is it! And those are the big 5 foundation components of physical fitness. Furthermore, they engage motor skills by improving co-ordination and balance.
The design of the bell with the horn shaped handles allows for swinging movements as the centre of gravity is extended beyond the grip. Basic movements such as the deadlift, swing, clean and press were designed to train the body for the tasks ahead and in days gone by that was manual labour, in recent times for sport, lifting, throwing, sprinting, jumping, boxing.
Beyond the basic lifts there are countless variations, around the body, figure of 8, and the side swing I like to incorporate in my sessions.
KBs allow movement through all three planes, forward and back, side to side and twisting / turning, or in PT parlance, Tri planar movement. It activates the posterior kinetic chain, (PKC) a bit of a tongue twister but it’s vital to our discussion here. The posterior kinetic chain are the muscles of the rear of the body, hamstrings, spine and bottom (gluteals) and are crucial to develop power for lifting and forward movement. They are to often overlooked for their importance in postural development and assisting correct spinal alignment. Switching on the glutes is a phrase you will certainly hear more of.
Finally before we let you go, two further benefits are core activation to support the trunk, a key aim for most clients and a focus on flexibility as the lifts will test you through a wider range of functional flexibility.
Don’t forget folks! Not only is possible for you to have your goals and dreams it is also necessary. A little knowledge we hope is a small stepping stone for you to reach those ambitions.
Now its time to go old school at GPS Keep fit Boot Camp, see you there!