Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I hurt my back by using kettlebells?
- Should I keep working out if I feel extremely tired?
- How can I tell if my form is correct?
- How important is my form when using kettlebells?
- Can I hyper-extend my joints if I lock them out?
- Should I wear shoes while performing kettlebell training?
- What body parts do kettlebells work?
- Can I use kettlebells when I have sciatic pain?
- Can I use kettlebells if I'm older or out of shape?
- How often should I train?
You can hurt your back picking up a piece of paper from the floor if you do it incorrectly. When you are swinging a large piece of iron between your legs, there is absolutely potential for you to injure yourself if you are doing it incorrectly. Most injuries occur if you are too tired or using a weight that is too heavy. Always pay attention to your form and take a rest if you are too fatigued to continue the workout as written without the form remaining intact. Keeping proper form is more important than completing a written number of repetitions or working a certain amount of time. Do not ever sacrifice form to get more repetitions of a movement. If you are unable to complete a certain number of reps with good form that is okay, take a break and finish when you are ready.
It is always good to take a break from working out if you feel extremely tired. If you are looking forward to working out and you think it will help you feel good, then absolutely you should work out, but if you feel like you may have been hit by a truck the night before, it is probably time to take a rest day.
Get a Strong First, RKC, or HKC certified trainer to evaluate your swing. You could use a smart phone or video recorder to document yourself while you work out and perform a self-evaluation if the former is not available to you. You can also recruit a training partner to watch you and provide feedback while you are working out.
In one word, VERY! The kettlebell swing is a powerful movement with amazing health benefits that increase strength and flexibility. However when performed incorrectly it is also a movement that can create back, hip, or knee injuries when the form is incorrect. Always be aware of your form and periodically have a certified trainer evaluate your swing. You can also do this yourself using a smart phone or video camera. Be sure to squeeze the glutes and quads every time you swing tighten the abdominal muscles as if you are bracing hard for a punch. Swinging correctly will make your stronger and more flexible than ever before, however incorrectly performing the movement can create or increase back strain or pain.
All movements should only be performed with the joints to full extension, do not hyperextend the joints. Our joints are created to go to full extension. If you have pain when you fully extend a joint you should see a doctor, stretch, or use a foam roller or lax ball on the muscle groups surrounding the joint to increase your mobility.
That depends on you. Working out with bare feet strengthens the muscles and tendons in your feet and ankles (unless you have a foot problem such as plantar fasciitis that requires you to have orthotics, try to work out in bare feet). Also, your body is naturally more unstable when you are swinging the kettlebell and your feet need feedback from a hard surface to remain stable. Shoes with padding are designed to take this away and remove the body's ability to feel the ground. If you are used to wearing shoes all the time, you should gradually work up to working out in bare feet. It is not uncommon to experience some ankle soreness in the beginning from using your muscles in a new way. If you have chronic or re-occurring pain in the foot or ankle you should always use shoes for training.
Kettlebell workouts are designed to employ the entire body, working many muscle groups at once. That's part of the appeal for using kettlebells. You're working the entire body with the exercises, instead of only targeting one or two muscle groups. Kettlebells exercises include all over body movement, but the main muscle groups that are involved and that are strengthened the most with the basic kettlebell swing motion are the hamstrings, glutes, quads and abs. Bottom line? You get more impact in less time!
You should always consult a physician or physical therapist if you have an existing condition that is causing you pain. I have had many clients whose doctors recommending strengthening the muscles in this area to combat type of pain. If you doctor says yes, using Kettlebells is a GREAT way to strengthen the muscles around the sciatic nerve, but you must use the foam rolling and mobility techniques provided in the Mobility and Foam rolling section. I have had many clients who have suffered with chronic sciatic pain greatly reduce or eliminate their pain by using this protocol.
Kettlebells are great for people of all ages. Weight bearing exercises increase bone density and make the muscles in the body stronger. This is useful for people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels. It is more important for older or de-conditioned athletes to stay on top of proper form, and to choose a weight that is appropriate for the level of fitness you are currently at.
I recommend starting out by training 3 to 5 days each week, with a day of rest somewhere in the middle. Your body needs rest days to recuperate and get stronger. On your rest days, you can still find other options to be active if you choose. Consider cross training by taking a long walk or bike ride. Running, swimming, hiking, or any other exercise that gets your heart rate up are also good to improve your fitness and can be safely be performed on rest days.