Kettlebells are currently in vogue here in America but they have been used effectively as a fitness tool for over 300 years in Russia and Eastern Europe. The kettlebell, or “girya” as it is known in its native Russia was originally a used as a counterweight for farm equipment and as a standardized method to weigh grain. Its use spread from farmers to amateur competitors at local fairs to acrobats in circuses and, more recently, to professionals in organized sport.
A kettlebell is essentially a cannonball with a handle. They come in a variety of sizes and weights and, much like barbells or dumbbells, can be used to increase strength. However, unlike a barbell or dumbbell which has the center of gravity located in the handle, a kettlebell has a center of gravity located outside of the grip. This allows for a continuous combination of ballistic strength movements (such as the kettlebell swing) providing an excellent cardio workout. Furthermore, many movements with a kettlebell require work from several muscles simultaneously giving an effective full body workout.