Getting Started with Kettlebells: How to Buy, Learn & Train

The first thing I want to say is that kettlebells are awesome! They’re fun and they work.

So why not start with them?

Well, there’s a few reasons. First of all, it’s easy. You don’t need any equipment other than your own bodyweight (or a barbell). Second of all, you get to do something you enjoy every day without having to worry about getting enough sleep or eating right. Thirdly, you get to learn new skills and become stronger. Fourthly, you get to feel like a badass.

Kettlebells are great because they allow you to build strength and muscle quickly while burning fat too. If you’ve ever tried lifting weights before then kettlebells will be very similar.

But here’s the catch; they aren’t always easy to master! And that’s where we come in.

Getting Started With Kettlebell Training: How To Buy, Learn & Train

There are several ways to go about learning how to buy, learn and train kettlebells. There are books, videos and online courses available.

Which one is best for you depends on your goals and personal preferences. Let’s take a look at each option so you can make the decision that works best for YOU!

Learn From Books

There are a lot of great kettlebell books out there. Some are better than others, but you can’t go wrong with the basics.

Look for kettlebell training books by either Dan John or Pavel Tsatsouline. These two guys know their stuff and can help you learn proper form as well as effective routines. You don’t even need to buy an entire book; you can find several of their articles online for free. Just do a quick search on Google and you should find plenty to keep you occupied.

Find Online Courses

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If you’d rather take a more direct approach, you can always sign up for an online course. You’ll have direct contact with a trainer who will guide you through the entire process.

This option is great because you’ll get some one-on-one training AND be able to learn from the training material included in the course. You can find several online kettlebell courses by doing a quick search on Google or by visiting the Warrior Collective.

Take A Class

If you want to take it a step further, you can always take a kettlebell class at your local gym or community center. Most of these classes are taught by certified trainers who use the same techniques described above.

By taking a class you’ll not only get personalized attention, but you’ll also get the benefit of group support. Most people find that taking classes is more fun and they are more likely to stick with it. If you’re lucky, your town might even have a certified kettlebell instructor. And if not, you can always travel to a larger city that offers kettlebell classes.

How Will Training With Kettlebells Improve My Jiu-Jitsu?

Now this is the real question, right? How does this help your jiu-jitsu?

Well, as I said before kettlebells are a great way to build strength and add pounds to your lifts. But that’s not the real reason why kettlebell training is so effective. Kettlebell training improves your body in a way that is most useful for jiu-jitsu. It strengthens the smaller stabilizer muscles in your body.

Think about it, in jiu-jitsu you don’t place all of your strength into lifting a person and throwing them. You use the strength of your hips to keep you balanced while you place all of your power into an armbar or a choke.

It’s the small stabilizer muscles that maintain your balance that allow you to do this. This is where kettlebell training really shines. It builds these stabilizer muscles and makes them strong! This is why you’ll see elite level jiu-jitsu competitors with well developed kettlebell programs.

Kettlebells Are Not Just For Warmups!

Many people use kettlebells for warmup exercises only. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Sure, kettlebells are great for warming up before training, but they can also build the strength that you need to excel in jiu-jitsu. You can perform the exact same exercises you do with jiu-jitsu training with kettlebells and get even better results. Plus, kettlebells are great for cardio and improving your endurance.

You Can Train Harder With Less Risk Of Injury

Most of your training should involve full body movements. This is true when it comes to jiu-jitsu and it’s true when it comes to kettlebell training as well.

Your body was designed to move in certain ways and training this way promotes strength and power. Most importantly, it takes the pressure off of your joints while strengthening the surrounding muscles.

How many times have you seen an elite level black belt with a bad back? Not too many right?

It’s because they train in a way that doesn’t overwork their bodies and puts all of the strain on their joints. Kettlebells offer this same kind of training. By training with kettlebells you can strengthen your body in a way that won’t overwork your joints.

The added benefit is that you can train harder with less risk of injury. This means that you’ll get to improve your jiu-jitsu without having to worry your body is going to break down.

You might even find yourself able to attack more often when rolling. As jiu-jitsu is largely a physical sport, you’re going to find yourself feeling stronger during training and better prepared during competition.

As I mentioned above, you can use kettlebells to build all of the strength and power you need to excel in jiu-jitsu. While most of your training will be using full body movements, you’ll still want to target specific muscle groups from time to time.

Kettlebells offer a great way to do this while still focusing on your overall strength.

A quick search online and you’ll find hundreds of different kettlebell exercises that you can use. Below I’ve put together a list of the five best kettlebell exercises for jiu-jitsu.

Kettlebell Swings: Not exactly the most technical of the kettlebell exercises, but it’s definitely one of the best. The kettlebell swing works a wide range of muscles, including your butt and thighs.

This is great for when you’re in the guard position as strong leg muscles allow you to keep your base. They also work your core and allow you to get a stronger grip which is important when trying to stabilize yourself while passing the guard.

If you want to take this exercise up a notch, try bringing your knees up as you swing the kettlebell. Not only will this improve your strength and power, but it also works your hamstrings and glutes.

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This is great for balance as well as improving your hip mobility which helps prevent injuries.

If you want to take this a step further you can even try the one handed swing. This takes an incredible amount of strength and won’t happen overnight, but with a lot of practice you’ll be able to do this.

This is great for developing your core as you have to balance yourself while only using one hand to swing the kettlebell.

Two Handed Clean and Press: This one is a great for developing overall strength. To perform this exercise start with the kettlebell between your feet.

Squat down and grab it with one hand on each side. Next, stand up and press the kettlebell up over your head. After that, slowly lower it back down to the starting position.

This is great for your legs, core, and shoulders. But more specifically it’s great for developing a strong base, which is essential in jiu-jitsu.

This is why it’s my favorite kettlebell exercise and should be yours too.

Two Handed Swings: This is basically the same exercise as the one handed swing, only you’re using two hands. As you might expect this works your muscles more and allows you to use heavier weights.

But just like the one handed swing, it also works your core and improves your hip mobility.

If you want to take this a step further you can try the one arm swing. This is obviously much harder and will take a very long time to get good at.

But as they say, nothing except talent and dedication separates the men from the boys. And this is especially true when it comes to jiu-jitsu.

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Juggernaut Carry: This one won’t develop any specific skill needed for BJJ, but it will improve your endurance which is very important. I’d recommend performing this exercise after you’ve done some of the others listed here.

To perform this exercise all you need is a heavy bag (or something similar) and a lot of space. Pick up the bag and carry it around for as long as possible. Make sure to switch arms and take breaks if needed.

Juggernaut Carries are great for endurance and they also improve your grip strength as well. This is important as you don’t want to be tapping out inbecause your arms gave out before your opponent did.

As you can see, there are a lot of different kettlebell exercises that can help in your BJJ training. All you need now is determination and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an unstoppable force on the mats.

Sources & references used in this article:

Kettlebell training by S Cotter – 2013 – books.google.com

Kettlebells: Strength Training for Power & Grace by S Vatel, VD Gray – 2005 – books.google.com

There are many varieties of protein out there. Don’t get lost in the shakedown. Learn what each protein does with this complete guide. by J Kiefer – bodybuilding.com

How to Boost Your Athletic Power with Kettlebells… and a PUSH Band by J Odden – strongfirst.com

The Complete Guide to Kettlebell Training by A Collins – 2011 – books.google.com