02 Jul Are Kettlebells Safe? The Truth About Kettlebell Training

KettlebellsAre kettlebells safe?

This seems to be a big question these days from beginners and from people who aren’t familiar with this type of training.

I’ve been very surprised by some people’s perception on this training tool, but I can understand the concern from someone that hasn’t had any experience with this training method.

Before I give the answer and my honest perspective, I want you to understand who this is coming from.  I am humble, but this is important for you to know, in regards to this topic, which is why I’m laying it out here.

My perspective comes from 30 years of weight training experience.  That’s right, 3 decades of continuous training.

That’s the first important point here.

The next thing is I’m a ‘former’ sports medicine and orthopedic physical therapist with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy.  I’ve treated numerous people through the years from athletes to the general population, who were rehabilitating from injury.  My specific expertise was in the shoulder, knee, and spine.

You should also know I was a back patient myself before becoming a physical therapist. I had a major lower back injury and surgery when I was younger.  I know all about the worst possible back pain you can imagine because I experienced debilitating LBP (low back pain) which required surgery.  If you have back issues or have had back issues, I can relate.  I’ve been there.

I’m a total science guy.  I read research papers, read science heavy books and articles, and stay on top of the latest and greatest data and research in the field of exercise science and nutrition.  I go to workshops, seminars, and meetings to constantly learn as much as I can so I can share what I know to make a difference.

And finally, I’m a current Russian Kettlebell Certified instructor, Level II (RKCII), Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Specialist (CK-FMS), as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

I know just enough about this passion of mine, training with kettlebells.

I felt it was really important for you to know my ‘back story’ here so you can understand the different perspectives I have on this topic.

The question is, “are kettlebells safe?

Absolutely.  As a matter of fact, I believe they are a tremendous tool in actually preventing injury.

Kettlebells are extremely safe to do, providing you get the proper instruction.

This is no fitness trend or fad either.

I believe that this tool will only continue to grow as more people discover the powerful benefits as a total body training and performance tool.

Like any other training modality, it’s all about getting the proper level of coaching and instruction to maximize results and train as safe as possible.

Kettlebell training is a unique and dynamic movement based training that requires coordination, motor control, strength, mobility, stability, and other physiological and performance components.

It requires getting the right instruction and when you do, the training is not only very safe, but insanely effective.

The thing you wouldn’t want to do is to try this on your own with no qualified instruction or making the mistake of getting an unqualified instructor.

I can only speak about the RKC system of training and the benefits that it offers because that’s the system I chose to learn from, based on my perspective of what is safe and effective training.

Shed any doubt you have about kettlebells not being safe by making it a high priority to get the right instruction.

Kettlebell training is a sensational training method for total body strength and power, cardiovascular fitness, joint health, improved flexibility, fat loss, improved performance, and much, much more.

When starting out, I recommend and teach the 3 most fundamental exercises, which are the kettlebell swing, the turkish get up, and the goblet squat.

Each of us move differently and depending on previous injuries, flexibility, strength, movement patterns, and other things, these 3 exercises could be challenging for some.

But, each of these 3, I would argue are the real foundation for all beginners, intermediate, and advanced.  They are very important.

Are they all safe?

Yes, absolutely, when you’ve been instructed in them the right way.

And, I would add, when you’ve been assessed on whether or not you have good quality movement to perform these exercises.

For example, if you can’t squat properly due to pain or some other limitation, then the goblet squat is not a good exercise for you until the squat pattern is fixed.

There is a right way and a wrong way to exercise.  The right way is to get a great coach, a great teacher, a great mentor.

The wrong way is to view a short video on-line by someone that may not have been properly trained in what they are doing and attempt to execute an exercise from that.

Please, don’t do that.

It’s worth your time and money to invest in yourself and get the right instruction for safe training and the potential for outstanding results.

I also mentioned that kettlebells are actually great for preventing injuries.

Why is this?

Specifically, the kettlebell swing has been shown to be a proven exercise to improve, not only spinal strength, but spinal strength endurance, which is key in preventing the incidence of low back pain.

Remember, I’m a former back patient and this exercise has been key in keeping my back healthy and strong.  It’s the single most important exercise for a strong, healthy back for most people.

And, for the shoulder, the turkish get up is absolutely wonderful.  I’m not sure there is better exercise for total shoulder strength, mobility, stability, and health than the turkish get up.

That’s right, kettlebells for preventing injuries and optimizing joint health.

Are kettlebells safe?

As they say in the RKC system, “Safety First, Always!

I think I’ve put this one to bed.  What do you think?

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2 Comments
  • Srdjan
    Posted at 01:47h, 08 July Reply

    Great article. I’m also recovering from a back injury and kettlebells have helped me a lot in my journey.

    I can understand why people would think that kettlebells are unsafe. They dynamic nature of the exercise itself seems intimidating to beginners. But with the right instruction, time and practice you can easily master the fundamental movements necessary to make kettlebell training a big part of your routine.

    • Scott
      Posted at 13:34h, 08 July Reply

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, just like any other form of training, it’s really all about getting the right instruction. With great instruction, you minimize chance for injury and get the best results. Best success with your continued kettlebell journey. Cheers.

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