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Kettlebell Misconceptions Revealed

By Todd M. Cambio | February 12, 2017

Like many things in life, there are great ways to do things and not so great ways. Kettlebells fall into this category. Here are three common misconceptions I deal with regularly.

#1 misconception: “Kettlebells are bad for my back.”

Absolutely NOT True! Bad form and poor instruction is bad for your back. Kettlebells taught correctly are good for your back. Here is why:

#2 Misconception: “My trainer knows kettlebells”

Not to pick on anybody, but unless you have been to a one day course or a 3-day certification, and “practiced” kettlebells for at least 6 months (after attending a SFG Course or Certification) to hone in your form, you or your trainer do not know kettlebells. Personal trainers do not know kettlebells. CrossFit does not know kettlebells.

Correct form absolutely essential. Glute-contracting, hip-snapping, heel-driving, ab-flexing, high-intensity hardstyle swing form. That will bring you right back to 15-20 minutes workouts that are more effective than an hour of other forms of exercise.

I liken “trying to learn kettlebells on your own” to a kid trying to cut their own hair…it usually doesn’t go well!

#3 Misconception: “I can learn them myself.”

If you are reading a book, watching YouTube or DVD’s on kettlebells, stop now and sign up for a StrongFirst Course or Certification.

Why? You need to know why you are doing certain exercises. Know the purpose. Get deeper into the “how and why” than just trying to mimic what you see on a video or in a book. Have someone actually watch your form and offer hand-ons solutions.

Here is a sample concept we go over:

“Linkage”. The Turkish Get Up is one kettlebell exercise that demonstrates this concept.

The Get Up improves one’s strength in many events by teaching the important skill of “linkage,” while eliminating strength “leakage.” Linkage is when total tension is reached with out letting any tension “Leak” out of your system. If there is leakage, the movement gets sloppy and opens the door for injuries.

What Gray Cook, physical therapist to Navy SEALs and NFL teams, has to say about this one kettlebell movement:

“The Turkish Get-Up is the perfect example of training primitive movement patterns—from rolling over, to kneeling, to standing and reaching. If I were limited to choosing only one exercise to do, it’d be the Turkish Get-Up.”

I would add that these other benefits simply come along for the ride: hip hinging, lunging, glute activation, core recruitment, shoulder health, mobility, stability and more.

“Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettlebell athletics,” reported Russian magazine Hercules in 1913.

According to Mark Reifkind, Master SFG, “Most clients’ goals are very simple: weight loss and increases in muscle tone and strength and to NOT get hurt. Nothing provides this more easily, more safely, and more quickly than kettlebell swing training done correctly. From the weakest beginner to the most advanced strength athlete the kettlebell swing, when programmed and trained correctly is perhaps the best tool for almost any job. And if you’re going to do only one exercise, make it a swing.”

Kettlebell swings, Turkish get ups, goblet squats, single leg dead lifts, military press, cleans and snatches are all some of the main exercises that when done correctly are some of the best exercises you can do. Invest in a StrongFirst Course  or a Certification and you will gain skills that last a lifetime and transfer to other modes of exercise.


Todd Cambio



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