It’s funny to think that 20 years ago, no one knew what a kettlebell was. Now, kettlebells are a normal and expected fixture in any gym.
Is the popularity justified? Yes. The tool has been proven effective.
But what events turned kettlebells into a global fitness sensation? The answer, it turns out, is a bald man with a dry sense of humour…
5 Reasons Why Kettlebells Are So Popular
1. They Can Help You Build Muscle
Doing work against gravity with heavy implements – that’s how you build muscle!
Kettlebells are known for being especially effective in building the muscles of the posterior – think glutes, hamstrings and back.
2. They Can Help You Lose Weight
- Think of any muscle that you gain as “expensive” for the body to maintain. All things being equal, a more muscular body spends more energy at rest than a less muscular body.
- There’s a very small bump in energy expenditure during training called Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT).
- There can be a small bump in energy expenditure called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
When used in conjunction with a caloric deficit in your diet, kettlebell training contributes in a minor way to fat loss.
3. They Are Super Versatile
With a bit of creativity, you can exercise your whole body with kettlebells.
Your workout can consist of a single exercise, like the kettlebell swing or the get-up. Or, you might choose to flow from a clean, to a squat, to a press. There are many ways to mix it up.
The kettlebell gives you access to many exercises:
- Goblet squat
- Turkish get-up
- Push press
- Farmers walks
To name a few!
4. They Are Great Value For Money
A good kettlebell is basically an indestructible lifetime investment. With minimal care, you can expect to still be using the same piece of equipment decades later.
5. You Can Use Them Anywhere
Kettlebells are portable and they come with a built-in carrying handle!
6. They Have A Small Footprint
Because most kettlebells are produced in China, the pandemic created an extreme chokehold on the supply chain at a time when millions of people were confined to their homes.
Now, two years on, demand for personal fitness equipment remains high, as we continue to hedge against future government actions.
When Did Kettlebells Become So Popular? (A Brief History)
In the early 2000s, Pavel Tsatsouline and John du Cane teamed up to popularise kettlebells in the western world. Their company, DragonDoor, held the monopoly in the market until Pavel and John parted ways.
The DVDs popularised the tool with Pavel’s charismatic and humorous delivery.
The certification program “Russian Kettlebell Challenge” produced thousands of certified coaches to spread the training methodology.
DragonDoor also produced their own kettlebells to complement their publishing arm of books and DVDs. While there were countless knockoffs, none of them matched the quality of DragonDoor bells at the time.
Pavel would later leave DragonDoor to form StrongFirst, which features a similar combination of media products, certifications and kettlebells.
More of the same, except with monochrome branding and a strong whiff of “tacti-cool” (military fetishism).
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.