No, this isn’t the song sung famously by Toby Keith….
But this article is about the benefits of kettlebells especially towards first responders.
When I was a firefighter I wish I knew about kettlebells because kettlebells and first responders are a match made in heaven. Let me explain – Kettlebells can make you insanely strong without big puffy muscles that you get from body building training. Another benefit is you can work on your cardio intensely without ever touching the treadmill. In fact there are studies out there that kettlebells can increase your marathon time(if you are a runner) AND increase your bench press and deadlift simutanously!
In fact Daniel John, who is a very sought after and highly respected coach in the health and fitness industry calls kettlebells a killer app. Killer app meaning what does this do better than anything else? Well you can’t do a kettlebell swing or a Turkish Get up with a dumbbell, you can but it won’t have the same effects as doing these exercises with a kettlebell. It’s the same approach with a barbell- there are exercises that you can’t do with any other piece of equipment and get insane results like the bench press or deadlift.
I am not knocking on body building training it has a purpose- to look good as a statue but the thing that impresses me most about kettlebells and with my background is that if you are a first responder it can actually help you do your job better.
Back injuries are one of the top work related injuries for first responders and kettlebells make your back stronger and more resilent than ever.
Let’s look at the exercise regarded as the center of the universe for kettlebell training. The kettlebell swing. The swing opens up your hips by making your hip flexors more flexible and it strengthens your back, butt, hamstrings, stomach, shoulders and arms. These areas are all critical for first responders. One of the main reasons why first responders suffer from low back pain is because they suffer from what we in the exercise industry call it, “gluteal amnesia” – this basically means your glutes(butt) is not working properly so that is causing your lower back to do more work than it should. Kettlebells can help with this.
Also with my history of lower back pain (http://bisbeefitness.com/how-to-go-from-disc/) my back feels way stronger than it ever did before and with the research that Prof. Stuart McGill (who is the #1 spine biomechanist in the world) Has come out with saying lower back strength does not appear to reduce the odds of back problems its muscular endurance. So all those kettlebell swings and snatches have done have actually paid off.
Another huge benefit that I think first responders can appreciate is that you can have a kickass workout in as little as 15 minutes because you will never know when the tone for emergency will go off, if you are training at the firehall.
Here I will give you a quick little workout but first I will teach you how to do a proper hardstyle swing. We call it hard style because you want to feel like you are doing a plank at the top of the swing. So these two exercises I want you to practice first. One is called the hip hinge and you will do this against the wall like so.
The next exercise that I would like for you to practice is the hard style plank. (Think of normal plank but on steroids.)
Now once you feel you are ready for the next step it’s time to learn the kettlebell pendulum, once you start feeling comfortable with this stand up like I do in the video. It’s important to remember though that your lats are pushing the kettlebell back between your legs and you are letting gravity push the bell forward. Congrats you have performed your first swing!
Watch this video to learn how to do the kettlebell pendulum.
Now if you feel you are not snapping your hips like you should, or your hips feel “snagged” then you should try this drill but keep in mind that you need a partner for it.
Now that you have the basics down you can now finally try to see what kettlebells are all about!
This workout is called on the minute training (OTM) if you are female use a 10kg or 12kg bell. If you are a male you can use a 16kg or a 20kg bell.
Here is where it gets interesting if you have been training for a long time and are really strong I would suggest doing this workout with a heavier kettlebell. 16kg to 20kg for female, 24 to 28kg for male. So you will perform 12 reps of kettlebell swings on the minute and you will rest until the next minute, so a stopwatch will become handy. Do this for 12 minutes if you are a beginner or if you feel like challenging yourself do 18 minutes. If you don’t want to stop your current exercise program you don’t have to just do this on an off day or cardio day. Also if you are new to exercise period and want to give this a whirl, try to do this 2 to 3 times per week to see crazy benefits. Let me know how it goes in the comments below.