The kettlebell, as we know it today, originated in Russia roughly 350 years ago with the first appearance of kettlebell appearing in the Russian dictionary circa 1704. Originally, they were used as handled counterweights in weighing out dry goods on market scales. People began throwing them around for entertainment and they were later put to use for weight lifting.
The forefather of the modern fitness gym, Dr. Vladislav Krayevsky, founded the St. Petersburg Amateur Weightlifting Society on
August 10,1885. This time was considered the birth of weightlifting in Russia. A proponent of what he called “heavy athletics”, Krayevsky authored “The Development of Physical Strength with Kettlebells and without Kettlebells”. He was one of the most influential pioneers of his day in fitness. His students included the legendary strongman, George Hackenscmidt, “The Russian Lion”, who credited him with teaching him everything
he knew and Eugene Sandow, “The Father of Modern Day Body Building”.
General Knowledge of Kettlebells
Kettlebell Sport lifting (Girevoy Sport) is the National Sport of Russia. Today exercising with kettlebells is undergoing a major resurgence and kettlebell training has now become one of the most popular and best ways to lose weight, maintain a high level of cardio-vascular fitness, get stronger and get that sculpted, toned, & healthy body you’ve always wanted. Proper kettlebell training and application can help you live a longer, healthier life, maintaining and improving joint health, mobility and flexibility. Kettlebell lifting is technical just as Olympic lifting, and requires the lifter use correct form to avoid injury and derive the maximum benefit from any of the hundreds of kettlebell exercises and variations.
5 Kettlebell Exercises for a Healthy Shoulder
The kettlebell is a wonderful tool for optimizing shoulder health. Many of these will help to improve/restore mobility, stability, and optimize Rotator Cuff (RTC) strength along with the entire shoulder complex. Here are some of the best exercises performed with a kettlebell to prevent shoulder dysfunction and injury. Under each exercise will be a recommended rep scheme to be used as a pre-workout or warm up.
1) Turkish Get Up
Arguably, the Turkish get up (TGU) is the most important of these exercises. The TGU enhances and optimizes RTC function, moving through a broad range of motion while the RTC is firing and stabilizing the entire time. The TGU and its component parts are a staple for maximizing shoulder joint health and function. Not only does it fire the RTC the whole exercise, but the weight bearing positions are outstanding for scapular stability and strength. The important thing is to get this exercise right and not rush it as you’re moving through each transition in a slow, controlled motion.
Performing the kettlebell windmill requires a dynamic range of motion, mobility, and stability. While it’s also great for the hip and spine strength and stability, Its include it on this list for the same reason as the TGU. As you move through the windmill, the RTC must constantly fire and stabilize the humeral head through the wide range of motion.
The kettlebell armbar has similar benefits the other exercises with a few differences. Shoulder mobility is not as dynamic as with the TGU and windmill, however the stability and proprioceptive benefits (knowing where your arm is in space) are outstanding. Also, it really opens up the anterior portions of the shoulder complex (anterior glenohumoral joint, pecs, and rib cage). For tight pectorals and forward rounded shoulders, this is a fantastic mobilization. The armbar is also outstanding for thoracic mobility, which is something we all need to maintain or improve.
4) Military Press
The kettlebell military press is excellent for total shoulder strength, but has the mobility and stability elements to it as well. The key is to perform the shoulder press in the plane of the scapula, which is approximately 30 to 45 degrees anterior to the frontal plane (see picture). Basically, your arm is not positioned straight out to the side and it’s not straight out in front of you. Keeping the press in the plane of the scapula is not only safe, but is the most functional and biomechanically efficient position for the shoulder to effectively press. For example, think of a barbell press in which your shoulder is taken back out of the plane of the scapula to hold the barbell in position and press overhead. In contrast, you can press the kettlebell in the natural groove. The kettlebell press is excellent for the shoulder complex and incorporates not only the RTC, but also all shoulder musculature for stability, mobility, and strength.
This may come as a surprise, but the kettlebell swing is fantastic for the RTC. The entire time you are swinging the kettlebell, the RTC is firing to stabilize the shoulder joint and maintain the humoral head in the glenoid. It is doing so in a unstressful, non-aggressive way. Remember, in the Russian style swing, the shoulders (especially the deltoids) aren’t really active, but there is demand on the upper extremities and the RTC muscles to contract continuously to hold the shoulder in place. From a standpoint of strengthening the RTC, the kettlebell swing is an excellent exercise to optimize shoulder health.
Thank you to:
Scott Iardella & kettlebellsusa.com for the content.
For a Great Kettlebell Workout Poster: www.productivefitness.com/KETTLEBELL-Fighthrough.aspx
Check out these cool kettlebells at ONNIT