Kettlestory. Kettlescience.

The part of London where I live has a busy market. The traders who sell fruit and veg no longer weigh out the produce: they put it out in bowls, and spend the day screaming, ‘Paaand (ie pound, one pound sterling, equal in value to about half a Euro or US dollar at the moment – thanks Brexiters) a bowl, paaand a bowl.’ They’re missing a trick. Why?

Well, the story goes that 17th-century Russian market traders started messing about with the weights they used for measuring produce. Round metal weights with handles. They swung them around and lifted them over their market trader heads, and it soon became apparent that they were becoming extremely fit and strong. Next thing you know, the festivals and fairs where those sturdy market traders plied their wares became host to their strength competitions.

As the culture of strength training blossomed and flourished throughout Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries, kettlebells, as a by then (sounds a bit like ‘Azerbaijan, doesn’t it?) established training tool, became very popular with the famous strongmen of the time. In 1974, kettlebell sport (probably a separate blog on that) was proclaimed ‘the national ethnic sport of Russia’.

So there you have a very brief history indeed, and a vague idea where kettlebells come from.

Now for the science bit (giggles and blushes, like the pretty lady in the shampoo ad). In all honesty I can’t bear to bore you with the physics of the moving kettlebell, but you just need to know that FORCE = MASS x VELOCITY. This means that if you swing a 20kg bell, the force your body has to deal with is 20kg multiplied by something, which makes it more than 20kg.

The other main thing you need to know about the kettlebell is that the fact it has a handle means your point of contact with the bell is removed from its centre of mass. Move the bell around and it is very unstable, compared to the same weight of dumbbell. So you use more energy, more nervous input, more muscles at a micro level, just to keep the bell stable. Quite clearly this is amazing. You don’t need to know any of this to become amazing, though. Just swing your kettlebell, keep it swinging and feel the unamazingness leave your body.


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