What is UP, Fringe Fam? We’re back today with a kettlebell knowledge bomb that may (or may not) blow your mind. The question in question is this: “can you get stronger using only kettlebells?” We’re going to break it down for you.
If you’ve ever wondered this question, it’s valid. Kettlebells are often seen in the strength training world as an accessory tool, unless you’re practicing specifically for the sport. Can training with a kettlebell build muscle and strength? Absolutely! Can you build stamina and endurance and burn fat in your training with just a kettlebell? Absolutely to that, too.
Kettlebell training is no different than training through other modalities if you treat it the same as training through other modalities. What we mean by that is this: if you’re treating your kettlebell like a barbell, and you’re loading up with weight and cycling your kettlebell just like you would in a barbell-focused workout, you’re going to heed results. You’re going to burn out the muscle groups you’re focused on, you’re going to break a sweat, and you will definitely get your heart rate up and torch some calories in your workout. If getting stronger with only kettlebells is your goal, stick with it. Your journey, your progress, your workouts are going to look and be different than those prescribed for getting stronger with other modalities, so keep your blinders on, do the work, and you’ll get there.
There’s a few different ways to think about this and make sure you’re successful in getting stronger using kettlebells.
First, no matter where you are in your fitness journey, whether that be an expert garage gymmer or a newbie, or anywhere in between, you can get the results you’re looking for through any form of training with a proper plan, progressive overload in some fashion, and eating a sufficient amount of calories to ensure muscle growth and strength development.
The truth is, whether you’re using one single kettlebell throughout the entirety of your workouts or a set of different kettlebell weights, you can and will get stronger when you put in the work.
So, let’s talk about getting stronger using only kettlebells. If a kettlebell or set of kettlebells is the only thing at your disposal, no need to fret. We promise you can get the results you’re looking for as long as you’re willing and ready to put in the work.
The first thing to do is make sure you’re working through a program with structure that will prohibit and encourage muscle growth and strength development. Finding a program from a coach you trust or kettlebell professional is the best way to do this because they’ll have the knowledge and background necessary to create a program that will get you the results you’re looking for. Instagram model programs and self-made programs, although they would likely see some form of results, are usually not the best way to go about reaching a goal when the goal is as specific as getting stronger with kettlebells.
Next comes progressive overload. Once you’ve mastered, or at least have practiced, the movements you’re looking to get stronger at with a kettlebell, you can start to add some weight or reps to push your muscles to grow and in turn, get stronger. Progressive overload is just that: adding more weight or reps or sets over time to push the muscles past their comfort zone, in turn adding strength and growth to the working muscle. Progressive overload works with any form of exercise, and it’s not specific to kettlebell training, but it does apply.
Progressive overload can be thought of like practice for any other sport. Baseball, tennis, gymnastics, etc. You practice over and over again with the intention of making each set or rep better to some degree, whether that be with a smoother or more powerful swing, a backhand with a better follow through, or an balance beam routine with more control and pointed toes.
Getting stronger using a kettlebell is the same idea. You’re performing swings with a lighter weight to start in order to get your form down completely. Then, you might increase reps with the same weight because you’ve gotten quite close to perfecting your swing mechanics. You’ll likely move up in weight or number of sets next, and the challenge continues that way. At the same time, you’re getting stronger, developing more muscular and cardio endurance, and gaining muscle.
Remember, just like anything else that takes practice, work, and intentional effort, getting stronger with simply a kettlebell in your arsenal is going to take time too. This is normal, this is expected, and you’ll come out stronger in the long run if you stick with it, keep swinging, and put your best effort forward.
Getting stronger with a pair of kettlebells, and even a single kettlebell, is more than possible if you're willing to go for it. Just like training for anything else, it's going to take consistency, practice, and intentional effort to reach your goals. Plus, what's better than training with a piece of equipment that can be brought with you virtually everywhere? That checks off an often difficult piece of consistency right there.
As always, lift heavy, lift with kettlebells & get strong, lift happy :)