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Kettlebell Q&A

Which is better, barbell lifting or kettlebell lifting?

It's really a toss-up -- the answer depends on your particular goals. Barbells will do more for your 1-rep maximum lift. Kettlebells will do more for your endurance and are more portable. Both are vastly superior to weight machines. So are dumbells, when used properly.

Do I need to do cardiovascular workouts in addition to lifting kettlebells?

No. High repetition, ballistic exercises such as swings, cleans, and snatchs provide an intense cardiovascular workout that is strength-building at the same time. It's always a good idea to be active, however, so I recommend that clients do something active and enjoyable on days when they don't lift kettlebells; walk, jog, swim, bike, dance, hike, ski, whatever. Just have fun!

Which weight(s) should I buy?

Most men starting out seem to do best with a single 35 lb. or 44 lb. kettlebell. For some women, a little work at the beginning with the 18 lb. kettlebell is helpful, but many skip right to the 26-pounder. Age, level of conditioning, injuries, etc., all play a role in this decision. It does not matter at all where you start -- just that you move toward your goals in deliberate, safe fashion.

How many kettlebells do I need?

You can go a long way with 2 kettlebells of differing weight. For a man, this might be one 35 or 44 lb. kb and one 53 lb. kb. For a woman it might be the 26 lb. and the 35 lb., or the 18 lb. and the 26 lb. These are just common observations -- everyone is different. Write us and ask us!

How do I know when I'm ready to move up to the next kettlebell?

If you think you are ready to move up to the next weight, the simplest and safest way to proceed is to follow the same progression of exercises you used in the beginning, with the possible exception of deadlifts. So, if you've worn out the 35 lb. kettlebell, pick up a 53-pounder and practice 2-hand swings, then 1-hand swings, then cleans, then clean&jerks, and then presses and snatches. I'm sure you will find that some exercises, such as swings, will progress much faster in terms of weight than presses will, so you should expect to be using different weights for different drills. That's why I think it's best to have two kettlebells of different weights.

What about flexibility training?

I think the techniques in Relax Into Stretch are phenomenol, and we've incorporated many of them into our own DVD called Power Stretching/Extreme Mobility. I have used those techniques successfully on myself and on many, many of my clients. They are a bit complicated, so to achieve the most rapid flexibility gains, you need a trained flexibility facilitator to assist you by providing resistance and verbal coaching.



Let me know what other questions you have. Contact me at


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