So, You’re Thinking About Training With Bells
What makes you decide you want to try something new?
- Is it someone we see?
- A body we’re envy of?
- Or a friend, family member, or colleague who nudges us enough to say “oh what the hell!”
Trying something new can be nerve-wracking, stressful, and sometimes scary.
But it can also be exciting, exhilarating, and rejuvenating.
In the case of kettlebell training I think it’s fair to say – not all experiences are the same
- If one person learns from his brother, who learned from his part-time personal trainer
- Another learns from a Jillian Michaels DVD
- And another hires a StrongFirst coach
It’s fair to say each will have an entirely different perspective and feeling about what it means to train with kettlebells and if they “work” or not.
As someone who takes kettlebell training seriously I thought it would be appropriate to lay it all out on the table – what to expect if you decide to start training with kettlebells.
A Shift In Mindset
Kettlebell training falls directly under the category of “minimalist training” – at least in my humble opinion.
Training with bells will likely be different than what you’re used too in a training session.
#1 – Hire a coach
First things first, if you expect to learn how to use kettlebells properly you need to hire a coach who’s put in the hard work him/herself to become certified.
To think you don’t need to hire a coach or that you can teach yourself how to use kettlebells entirely is the wrong attitude.
A coach will always be able to apply your objective needs without the subjective self in the equation. Plus let’s face it; they’re more experienced than you are so be open-minded in hiring a coach. The investment will be worth the frustration and poor habits you could potentially develop.
Look to StrongFirst, of course.
#2 – You won’t aimlessly train “body parts”
Instead you’ll learn skills and develop movement patterns to apply your skill towards.
The goal of your training will never be to “gas you out” or more literally to “work you out” rather, each session will build on the previous session – whether it be a technique cue, variability within the load, work time, rest periods, etc.
#3 – You’ll do less than you’re accustom too but get far more in return
You’ll need to get away from the idea of “chasing the burn” or, feeling the “pump” after your workout.
When you learn how to swing and getup you will be sweating a good deal, your heart rate will be high, and you will certainly feel “worked out”
Initially however, you’ll need the patience to get to that point. In the process you’ll establish a stronger foundation that you’ve likely ever had before.
You’ll be tested mentally and physically.
You won’t need to workout for an hour; instead you’ll train with intent for 30-40 minutes.
#4 – Your wrists might be sore – initially
There’s no denying it; when you start training with kettlebells you’ll likely experience some discomfort on the back of your wrist – you’ll get used to it.
That being said, purchasing some sweatbands could go a long way in protecting your wrist while improving your technique.
Too often people allow their wrist to “break” (bend backwards) while holding the bell to avoid the discomfort on the back of their wrist. Your body will adapt and the discomfort usually goes away within a week or two.
BUT, developing poor habits is not an option, so make sure you get a pair of sweatbands or tape your wrists initially.
# 5 – You’ll get stronger
Stronger than you’ve ever been before – but it won’t happen over night – unless you start taking steroids.
Nothing strength related will essentially happen “over night.” Anything worth achieving requires:
- And likely overcoming some form of adversity
You will be challenged mentally and physically – so long as you come in with the right mindset you will leave stronger both mentally and physically.
In order to achieve strength you’ll need frequency and consistency within your training – this is where hiring a StrongFirst coach helps even more.
You’ll also want to come in with a definitive goal, timeline, and unyielding will to achieve said goal.
No more of this “I want to tone up” fluff.
#6 – You’ll toughen up your hands and might tear a callus
It’s not the end of the world – it happens to the best of us – or well, everyone really!
Tearing a callus is a lesson to be learned, you just have to look for it. One of the things I love most about training with kettlebells is no matter how skilled you are; you’re always a student to the bell.
The bell is more efficient and more durable than you are.
It’s like this quote from Bruce Lee:
Don’t fight with the bell, you’ll loose – or better yet – you’ll learn…
#7 – Your results will last a lifetime
Much like a foundation of a house, you will build a strong foundation first when learning how to train with kettlebells in learning how to master the:
- The deadlift
- Goblet squat
- Hallow hold/tension strategies
- And push-up
Each will provide a base for you to build new skills and strength on top of.
- Your deadlift becomes your swing
- Your swing becomes your clean
- Your swing becomes your snatch
- Strong cleans lead to heavier presses
- Stronger getups lead to heavier presses
- Push-ups and hallow holds help reinforce tensions strategies
- Tension strategies carry over into everything
I think you get the idea…
# 8 – Life will be better
Simply put; life is better when you’re strong.
- You won’t be “bulky”
- You will feel younger
- You’ll probably live longer
- And you’ll probably be happier
So long as you come into your first session with the above points in mind, I have no doubt you’ll succeed in training with bells.
One last thing, and perhaps most importantly of all; have fun!
Life’s too short to take your training so seriously – you’ll train with intent but make sure you enjoy it.
All of my clients enjoy hard style kettlebell training, they may not love it as much as I do, but they enjoy their sessions without a doubt!
That being said, not all of them loved it from the beginning. It took:
- Coaching, and
Once the foundation is laid, everything else is simply gravy on top.