You might or might not know, I’m a CrossFit and kettlebell trainer. I use both the barbell and kettlebell.
But at the right times, for the right reasons, and most of the time that means using the kettlebell.
Wait, I know I probably hit a sensitive snare, but I will back up what I just said and list the exact reason why. First, let’s talk about what I often hear when I’m in different CrossFit boxes and ask:
“why aren’t you using more kettlebells for WODs?”
The answer is always
“because people complain it hurts their forearms”
Let me quickly hit some more sensitive snares; that means you don’t know how to teach kettlebells the right way. Okay, I could complain about this some more, but I’m always more of a ‘complain and help at the same time’ kinda guy, so make sure you check out the video above, which has plenty of reasons why crossfitters hate kettlebells, and plenty of tips on how to fix those issues.
The main issues are:
- Banging (bruising)
- Friction (calluses/blisters)
- Casting (jarring)
I’ve covered some of the fixes to those issues in the video, if you’re after more details, check out the book I wrote, it will get you training with kettlebells in no time.
Why Kettlebells Over Barbells?
I also discuss and cover this when visiting CrossFit boxes, and “because they’re cool” isn’t sufficient as a reply, I need to have good solid reasons to be saying something so bold. And I do. I’m not the kind of guy that promotes something without having a good reason to do so.
Again, I have to plug my book, because there is so much more info in there, but here goes:
|Con: Wrist hyperextension is common.||Pro: Wrist hyperextension is easily avoidable.|
|Pro: Can be loaded heavy.||Con: Has a usual limit of 48kg.|
|Con: No natural shoulder rotation possible.||Pro: Natural shoulder rotation is possible during any movement.|
|Con: Limited to one or two common grips.||Pro: 25+ different grip variations.|
|Con: Allows only bilateral work.||Pro: Allows unilateral work.|
|Con: Limited to a small selection of common exercises.||Pro: Allows any exercise performed with the barbell plus hundreds of others.|
|Con: Limited to the sagittal plane.||Pro: Can be used through all planes of movement.|
|Con: Easily promotes muscle imbalance.||Pro: Prevents muscle imbalance.|
|Con+Pro: More stable.||Con+Pro: Works more of the stabilizer muscles.|
|Pro: Less/no impact on the forearm when using heavy weight.||Con: At the high end of the weight, forearm padding required with mid to high reps.|
|Con: Limited to lifts and presses.||Pro: Allows juggling which promotes hand-eye coordination and proprioception.|
|Your turn →||Your turn →|
So what does this all boil down to? Keep using barbells for what they’re good for, include more kettlebell work to decrease muscle imbalances, improve strength, and mobility. Plus, be able to run some of the best WODs your clients have ever seen.
“Kettlebell are da bomb” Mat Fraser
The above is what needs to happen before CrossFit starts to use more of what’s good. Which is a real shame, why not just look at the facts, and start learning kettlebells the right way, learn the fundamentals first.
“Kettlebell training has a learning curve that needs be followed with proper progression. One should not just pick up a kettlebell and start flinging it around.” Taco Fleur
Kettlebell Weight Limitation
Let’s address the all-important weight limitation of the kettlebell, as in most cases this will be enough to shut down any further conversation about the pro’s of kettlebells. If we’re talking deadlifting heavy, use a barbell, back squats, use a barbell, front squat, use a barbell. Problem solved.
If you’re worried about limitations for exercises like jerks, snatches, overhead squats presses etc. allow me to first explain that 48kg of kettlebell might be the same as 48kg of barbell, but it will not feel the same during lifting! These babies will feel 1/3 their weight heavier. Give the top athletes of CrossFit a 48kg kettlebell and let’s see if this is not enough weight for snatching, double bell jerks, clean and jerk, and so on. A good example of how they’re too heavy can be seen here.
Kettlebell WOD Videos
You’ve probably heard of the Arnie Kettlebell WOD, here is the modified version of it.
Check out the awesome kettlebell WOD SANGRE 1.4 video which comes with full details. And don’t miss the CrossFit Kettlebell Snatch, I’m highly confident you will get something out of that, you will improve the efficiency of your kb snatch.
Join in on the discussion:
PS. The American Swings Suck!
Free bonus, don’t miss this little gem, it’s a PDF with over 25 kettlebell grips you can employ. This will totally change up your training, plus makes you sound like you know your kettlebells.