Kettlebells are cannon-ball shaped cast iron or plastic sand-filled weights that have a purse-like, rounded handle attached; the weights come in sizes ranging from 5 to 165 pounds (about 2-75 kilograms). Kettlebell lifting, which is said to have originated in Russia during the 1700s to build strength and endurance in athletes, has a completely different center of gravity than traditional barbells or weights. Changing the center of gravity creates a whole-body exercise that trains multiple muscles to work together instead of only building sheer strength. Working out with kettlebells, doing deadlifts or other exercises, generally takes less time and is more intense than training with free weights or resistance machines. People who want to learn kettlebell lifting can do so at gyms or health clubs, with certified trainers, or in the privacy of their home.
The deadlift is the basis of many other kettlebell exercise routines. To do a deadlift, the weightlifter bends forward with his or her back straight and knees slightly bent. He or she picks up the kettlebell and lifts it upwards, staying close to the body, until the weight is overhead. To complete the move, the weightlifter lowers the kettlebell in a very controlled manner, staying close to the body, past his or her face, chest, torso, and lower body, finally placing the weight on the floor. Other moves include one- and two-hand swings, jerks, and military presses.
Kettlebell moves are combined to create a complete 15-60 minute workout; beginning kettlebell lifters will have shorter workouts, while more experienced lifters will do longer sessions. A shorter workout does not necessarily mean that the workout is less strenuous. The difficulty of kettlebell lifting can also be increased by doing a series of different lifts in succession, without stopping for a rest between lifts. Kettlebell exercising done this way provides a cardio workout that is much more intense than a circuit training routine done with free weights or weight machines.
Gyms and personal trainers offering kettlebell classes can be found throughout the world. Many of these gyms and trainers also maintain websites where people interested in kettlebell can see how to do a proper techniques. A person who wants to do kettlebell lifting at home will need access to kettlebells of different weights. Some people prefer to buy a hollow kettlebell made of plastic that can be filled to the desired weight, rather than purchasing several cast iron kettlebells of different weights. Professional kettlebell lifters have also produced books and DVDs demonstrating proper kettlebell lifting routines for beginners and experienced users alike.