Siegmund Klein, The Kettlebell (1932)

The “kettle-bell” has been for years a very important factor in developing strength, yet the modern weight-lifter rarely, if ever, uses it. This is partly the fault of the governing body of the International Weight-Lifting Association, for kettle-bells are not used in any contests under their auspices, hence contestants feel that it is useless to train with this “obsolete” article.

I find the kettle-bell one of the most useful and fascinating of training apparatus. There are so many apparently simple exercises and lifts one can perform with this “Kugelgewicht”, as the kettle-bell is known in German.

Possibly another reason so few weight-lifters use the kettle-bell is that they can only press about two-thirds as much with this form of a weight than they can with a bar-bell. However, those that do use the kettle-bell will be more than repaid in development and strength. The wrists and forearms get very much work in handling this weight.

In my gym I have several kettle-bells, some with fixed handles, others with rings, and all of them of different weight. One of my favorite exercises is to stand astride with a kettle-bell between my feet and swing the bell up to the shoulder with one hand, then pressing it over head. Upon lowering it, it is again swung between the legs and transferred to the other hand on the upward sweep. I do this five times with each hand using a hundred pound kettle-bell. I have been surprised at how few otherwise strong men can press a hundred pound kettle-bell over head even once.

Of course I do not expect anyone but a trained athlete to try this with so much weight, but I suggest starting with about two-thirds of what you press with a bar-bell.

There is another exercise I enjoy doing with this hundred pound weight. It is the so called “Get Up” and is done with a bar-bell or a human weight. In performing this, the athlete lies on the floor and slowly raises up with a weight or his partner in one hand until he stands erect. Usually the lifting athlete will use two hands in bringing the weight he is going to “lift” up with one hand until the supporting arm is straight. It is much more difficult with the kettle-bell. Lie own next to the weight and without the assistance of the other arm slowly press the weight up with one arm, then come to the standing position and lie down again with the weight.

Many of athlete who has prided himself as being exceptionally strong has tried this stunt but with few exceptions have they lifted the weight off the floor, let alone stand up and lie down again with it. Of course it takes a lot of balance and careful timing, but this stunt is a good all around developer and am sure that you will get a lot of fun as well as general strength improvement, just as I have from doing this as well as the other exercises that I do regularly in my routine.

– Siegmund Klein, The Kettlebell, in: Klein’s Bell, Vol. 1., No 11., April 1932.

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