Top 10 Questions New Kettlebell Lifters Ask

Below is a top-ten list of questions and concerns I hear on a regular basis as a kettlebell trainer / coach. I'd like to share the answers with my readership as a way to help advance their kettlebell lifting skills.

QUESTION #1: It's just a steel ball with a handle, what makes it so "special"?
Valery Fedorenko's (kettlebell lifting world champion and head coach of the American Kettlebell Club) experience and teaching skills that have been refined for over 20 years. Without these extraordinary skills, a kettlebell is just a steel ball with a handle.

QUESTION #2: Why do kettlebells work so well for firefighters and other first responders?
Kettlebell lifting builds true work capacity. Both traditional weight lifting (sets that last 30 seconds) and pure cardio (running in shorts and sneakers) cannot compare to the effect true kettlebell training will have on the body's ability to perform work, safely and efficiently. Kettlebell training provides a quantifiable progression that reaches levels of intensity not possible with other training protocols, but it does so SAFELY. It's no coincidence that America's standard firefighter test, the CPAT, is a ten minute test of strength-endurance. Kettlebell training mimicks this like nothing else. Read more about Firefighters and Kettlebells.

QUESTION #3: Will I get a full-body workout with kettlebells?
Kettlebell training will work your body from head to toe without the need to isolate muscles or muscle groups. The human body does not work in isolation. All your muscles, joints, connective tissue come together to perform the task at hand - whether that's lifting kettlebells, breaking down a door at a structural fire, running for the end zone, or simply shoveling snow. In addition, you'll learn to move more explosively, generating real power, while burning fat and toning muscle.

QUESTION #4: If I never lift any more than 12kg (26lbs) or 16kg (35lbs), will I lose strength?
This is a concern that I personally voiced quite loudly early on in my kettlebell training. Lo and behold, without ever working with more than 35 pounds for over three months, I was able to top my previous best press of 70 pounds, when on a whim, I put the 40kg (88lbs) over my head several times.

QUESTION #5: Will I need to do additional cardio?
Additional light cardio is a great adjunct to kettlebell lifting but not a necessity. 20 or 30 minutes of jogging fits the bill, but brisk walking, biking, or any other form of legitimate cardiovascular exercise will help build wind and the ability to stay in a set for longer. Using the WKC fitness program will address all your cardio needs.

QUESTION #6: Why can't I work with a heavier weight?
You must master the current level before moving on. In order to perfect technique, you'll need to sideline your ego and pick up a relatively light bell (it gets plenty heavy after 50 or 100 reps). Learn the proper way to execute every aspect of every movement with a weight you can initially control. Working with lighter weight also allows a higher rep count, this translates into more intense practice within a safe progression.

QUESTION #7: Can I speed up and slow down within a set?
Slow (or sometimes fast) and steady wins the race. Keep an even pace from start to finish as the most economical use of your body's energy systems and recoverability. If you've underestimated your ability, and the set seems too easy, it's okay to speed up the last minute or two.

QUESTION #8: How often do I need to train?
There are many factors involved, including the intensity and volume of each workout, while some people may just need more recovery than others. As a rule of thumb, the more often you train, the faster your body will adapt. Normally, three or four days a week is good place to start, but five days per week can deliver the fastest results.

QUESTION #9: Why can't I use any kettlebell?
The size and shape of the kettlebell and handle are no accident. This design has been perfected over the years to allow the body to mold itself around the bell, translating into the bell as a comfortable and connected extension of your body, and LONGER sets.

QUESTION #10: What's the WKC fitness program all about?
The newly released WKC Fitness Program makes kettlebell training more practical to a larger audience. The focus of working to ten minutes sets is shifted to somewhat shorter sets (minimum set length is two minutes and maximum set length is six minutes), but exercises are grouped together with a specific timed recovery. The whole program is configured over 20 levels, taking much of the planning out of the lifters hands, while creating an easy-to-follow progression.

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