Monday, August 15, 2016

Kettlebells, We’re Kind of a Big Deal

Kettle what? If you’ve walked into a gym lately you’ve probably seen a misshaped looking weight that is round on the bottom with a handle attached on the top. A kettlebell. Despite what you may think, kettlebells are kind of a big deal. Not only are they a staple in almost every gym in the 21st century but there’s entire workouts focused around kettlebells, actual gyms are named after them (Queen City Kettlebell, Cincinnati, OH) and along with adequate calcium and vitamin D, kettlebells can help increase your bone mass!

Russia, the birthplace of the kettlebell, first appeared roughly 350 years ago. Originally used as handled counterweights to weigh out dry goods on market scales, Russians began swinging and throwing the odd objects around for entertainment and began using them to build muscle and an athletic figure.

So what exercises do I even do with a kettlebell? Glad you asked the list is endless! Some exercises include the kettlebell swing, which is considered the classic and most well known exercise, the hang clean, Turkish get-up, single arm swing, pistol squats, the snatch, and several more. While dumbbells can often be substituted for kettlebells for some exercises, kettlebells tend to be more versatile and more difficult to control as the weight is not evenly distributed as it is in a dumbbell. As you become more advanced in these exercises you can move your way up to the kettlebell with a gorilla head, weighing in at 70lbs. (shown at the top).

So how are kettlebells suppose to help me increase bone mass? Our bones are living tissue, meaning they need stress to stimulate growth.  While you may consume adequate amounts of dietary calcium and vitamin D, you won’t reach your optimal bone mass without proper exercise. The 2016 position statement of the National Osteoporosis Foundation stated that lifestyle behaviors affect 20-40% of adult peak bone mass. In their position statement, lifestyle factors that received a grade A included exercise and calcium intake, while other lifestyle factors such as dairy, protein, smoking and vitamin D received lower grades, implicating that in terms of peak bone mass, these factors are not as significant when compared to calcium and exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, such as swinging that kettlebell, exerts a stress load that bones need to stimulate mineral uptake.

So next time you’re at the gym, walk past the dumbbell rack and head for the gorilla looking kettlebell, after all they’re kind of a big deal.

National Osteoporosis Foundation -

Food & Nutrition Magazine – May/June 2016 issue


About the Author:
Allison Bokenkotter is a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati and recently passed the RD exam. In addition, she’s the diversity/national nutrition month chair for the Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association.