There are many equipment options you can use to get fitter. Find out what benefits kettlebells offer to see if they align with your training goals.
Some of these are relatively unique to kettlebells whereas other benefits are more general but very important.
From a high-level view, you can say that kettlebells are especially useful for people who want to do swings and/or specific movements like the Turkish get-up.
1. Kettlebells are versatile
One of the first things that stand out in kettlebells is how versatile they are.
Your first reaction after seeing a heavy ball with a handle may be growing and strengthening muscles.
And while this is one of the goals you can achieve, you can use kettlebells in other ways too.
For example, one of the benefits of kettlebell swings, a popular kettlebell exercise, is that they can offer a great cardiovascular workout too.
On top of that, kettlebells can be good for mobility exercises like the Turkish get-up.
In short, people who like to train many different fitness components may find a few good kettlebells a great investment.
2. Kettlebells can help you build muscle
To grow and strengthen muscles you have to damage them with enough pressure and repetitions. This starts a variety of processes that can repair and grow them.
Bodyweight exercises can be relatively good for resistance training beginners who want to train smaller muscles.
However, as you get stronger from these, bodyweight workouts may become too easy to see results.
By adding the resistance from kettlebells at the right points in your journey, you can see more and faster muscle growth.
Exactly what muscles kettlebells work will depend on what movements you do. For example, kettlebell chest exercises will be very different from kettlebell leg exercises.
One thing to note is that kettlebells are not always ideal for building muscle either.
For example, their somewhat lower weight limits and grip without knurling can be suboptimal for doing heavy compound lifts like deadlifts.
3. Kettlebells can improve cardiovascular health
As briefly mentioned, kettlebells can be helpful for certain cardiovascular exercises like swings too.
These focus extra on putting your heart, lungs, and blood vessels under extra pressure.
Doing this enough (but not too much) can in turn make it so kettlebell exercises can strengthen your cardiovascular system.
There is often overlap between different types of exercise but in cardiovascular kettlebell exercises, you tend to get out of breath before your muscles fatigue.
That being said, even if your forearm grip muscles fatigue after a few minutes of kettlebell swings, you likely had a good cardiovascular workout.
4. Kettlebells typically don’t have knurling
Not everyone will likely this next aspect of kettlebells but for some people and training goals the lack of knurling (grooves in the handles) is a benefit.
The first result of this is that kettlebells are generally more comfortable for swinging exercises where the handle moves around in the palm of your hands.
Secondly, other equipment options typically have knurling because it makes holding the weight easier for your forearm grip muscles.
By removing the knurling, kettlebells become a relatively effective tool for improving grip strength. In turn, this can benefit you in a variety of daily activities and other lifts.
As briefly mentioned above, this can also be a downside if your forearm grip muscles fatigue before the main target muscles of an exercise.
If needed, you can consider something like lifting straps.
5. Kettlebells can help you lose weight
Similar to many other forms of workouts, kettlebells can help you lose weight for different reasons.
First of all, having to move more weight in an exercise generally makes it so your body has to use more energy to power the movements.
You can also look at something like the calories burned with kettlebell swings to understand that equipment-specific exercises can also be good in this area.
Secondly, if you approach your kettlebell workouts right, they can also help you build nice amounts of muscle mass.
This muscle mass helps you burn more calories throughout the day.
All this extra calorie burning from kettlebells makes it more like you get to a point where you use more energy than is coming in.
At the same time, some people will have to make other changes too to lose weight with kettlebells.
Lastly, this is not the most unique benefit. There are many kettlebell alternatives that can also be great for weight loss.
6. Kettlebells can improve coordination and balance
To what extent can vary between exercises but it is fair to say that kettlebell workouts can improve your coordination and balance by challenging you in these areas.
Likely more than many other equipment options due to the uneven weight distribution and specific kettlebell exercise options available.
One small study with 23 dancers looked at the impact on balance, jumping performance, blood pressure, and heart rate of adding kettlebell training on top of a regular dance routine vs just a regular dance routine.
They measured that the kettlebell training group performed better on balance and jump performance tests (4).
Many people forget that balance and coordination are not just helpful during other workouts. Even something like climbing stairs without accidents requires these skills.