The Russian "Girya" for hard living comrades!
The kettle bell, or "Girya" in Russian has been around longer than dumbells and barbells. In Russia, strongmen who use kettle bells extensively in their training are called “Gireviks”. Amongst all the training equipment and tools available today, the kettle bell is probably, still the toughest to handle and master. Kettle bell lifting is not for the faint of heart.
Traditionally, kettle bells come in weights of 16kg, 24kg and 32kg. In Russia, a "one-pood" kettle bell is 16kg. They increase by "half-pood" or 8kg is a rather dramatic increase in weight for people nowadays. The Russians however, were very creative in inventing exercises to increase their strength and power to make the 8kg jump to the next heavier kettle bell. Today, one can easily purchase kettle bells in 4kg increments in weight.
Many kettle bell movements involve lifting the weight with strength and speed. Swings, snatches, clean and jerk are movements practiced by MMA fighters, Russian Wrestlers and Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) to build incredibly powerful muscles, tendons and ligaments. There is no better fitness tool for one who wants to be extremely fit and have a body that never quits, even in your old age.
One can also attempt to master unconventional Russian lifts like the "Bent press", "Side press" and the really tough "Two hands anyhow". These are way more difficult than conventional weight lifting movements and even the more challenging Functional Training movements. But they help to build incredible strength, balance, coordination and proprioception. They are all done while standing (except for the "Turkish get up" where the starting position is lying down with a kettle bell held above the head). Russians do not do exercises while lying down and sitting because such exercises don’t make sense for the real world. Wouldn’t you agree?
Kettle bell movements should be added to one's program only after sufficient fitness, strength and coordination has been achieved after working out with other Functional Training tools such as the ViPR, Swiss balls, medicine balls and suspension trainers like the Cross Core 180. Kettle bells are a mean fitness tool that needs to be handled with respect and care, especially when using weights of "1-pood" (16kg) and above.
So if you feel that you are ready to start developing the strength and fitness of an MMA fighter, or an elite soldier, then the kettle bell will help you to break through your all you previous performance plateaus and make you the lean, mean fighting machine you want to be!