Cardio and weights all rolled into one.
Are your efforts at getting unfathomably jacked still heavily dependent on a bulky, expensive set of dumbbells and/or loading worn Olympic plates on a rusting barbell that you salvaged from a picked-clean estate sale? My dear misguided friend, it is time for you to dispense with that nonsense and embrace what remains, really, the only positive impact that Crossfit has wrought on our society: kettlebells.
No longer the sole domain of overpriced group exercise classes, literal circus acts, or 18th century-Russian farmers intently weighing grain at the market, the kettlebell is a round-ish weight attached to a solid handle that looks a lot like, well, a kettle. Unlike dumbbells, which distribute their weight evenly between the two sides of the hand, the kettlebell’s mass is centered beyond the user’s reach, which makes it much easier to incorporate into more fluid, swinging-type motions to which traditional weights do not lend themselves so easily. (Have you ever tried to swing a dumbbell? Doing so is a great way to go careening wildly across a crowded weight room floor while desperately hoping that you don’t lose more than one major joint to your hubris.)
The best-known kettlebell exercise is the swing, a sort of hybrid squat-deadlift exercise that manages to target the legs, core, chest, and shoulders all in one graceful motion. Kettlebell training has been shown to improve a user’s maximum squat and vertical jump, and there is also evidence that it improves performance in powerlifting exercises which, while very good for you, often require more time, space, and equipment than you might have access to on a regular basis. Plus, the dynamic, full-body nature of kettlebell movements allows them to be performed on a continuous basis, which means that this type of training can be a valuable component of your cardio regimen of choice, too. One study found that soccer players who completed a kettlebell snatch program observed a significant increase in maximal oxygen consumption that the suckers stuck in a regular old circuit training group couldn’t match.
Most expert recommend that men looking to incorporate the kettlebell swing into their workouts start with a 35-pound model, which can be shipped to your door for under $50. If you’re feeling especially confident and/or wealthy, you can try an adjustable kettlebell set, which tend to be less expensive than their adjustable dumbbell set counterparts. Whichever weight you ultimately, please be absolutely sure to watch a few tutorial videos on proper kettlebell swing form before actually giving it a shot. The trajectory of that unforgiving iron mass as it flies through the air travels unsettlingly close to areas that require a special degree of care.
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