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Kettlebells for Workouts

Q: Why don’t you use kettlebells in your workouts?

A: Most exercises that are used for kettlebells can also be performed with dumbbells, and often gyms do not have the financial resources (or space) to have a complete set of both kettlebells and dumbbells.

Kettlebells are fine for throwing and as such have applications for athletes involved in throwing sports. The issue I have with the way most kettlebells are designed is that the handles don’t rotate, and that rigidity places considerable stress on the elbows. Likewise, one reason it took so long for thick-handled barbell and dumbbell training to catch on was that early versions of the equipment didn’t have handles that rotated and so caused injury.

A colleague of mine who worked for an exercise equipment manufacturer said it had considered making thick-handled barbells more than a decade ago, but there simply wasn’t enough demand for the company to keep them in inventory. He also said the costs associated with tooling rotating thick bars would make them expensive and out of the price range of the target market, which consisted mainly of high schools and recreational centers.

Kettlebells cost more than equivalent weights in dumbbells, but the increasing demand for them has been steadily bringing the price down—that and the fact that many of them are manufactured in the United States rather than Siberia. The lack of rotating handles, however, is still a problem. One compromise is an adjustable U-shaped kettlebell, which differs from a standard kettleball in that the center of mass is away from the handle; its handle revolves. An excellent one is made in the United Kingdom.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit  IM

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