I know my way around a weight room. I know all the basic moves with free weights, and I have been coached enough over the years that I have a very good grasp of what proper form looks like. At one time, I was one of those guys you see in the gym spotting each other, covered in chalk, clapping and yelling "You're looking huge man! Push it! No time for pussin' out now - two more!" (Yeah, I know - everyone hates those guys. I got better eventually...)
So, I don't fear the weights. I roughly know what I can lift in any given exercise, and I know that for most basic exercises 35 pounds is not that much for me.
That was until I met the 16kg kettlebell.
I did my first kettlebell workout today. It was a routine I found on the net - 20 minutes worth of one-armed swings, cleans, jerks, presses, and snatches, all done in a rhythmic way intended to increase core strength and burn fat.
There's no way to put a tough guy spin on this - it kicked my ass. Worse than any of the running I've done lately; worse than any game of handball, or any badminton match. When it was over, my arms were rubbery, and my hands shook for 10 minutes from the exertion. My arms were so burned out and floppy that when I tried to wipe the sweat from my brow, I poked myself in the eye with my thumb. Even now, several hours later, I feel like a wrung out dishrag and I'm having a hard time making my fingers hit the right keys.
The difference is the way the kettlebell is designed and used. The handle is not set in the middle of the weight (like a barbell) so it allows you to swing the kettlebell through an arc and greatly multiply its resistance. This "dynamic loading" allows you to get a lot of benefit from a relatively small amount of weight, and lessens the chance of injury that heavier lifting incurs.
It's easier to see it than to explain it - YouTube to the rescue. I selected this video from the almost 4000 entries you get when you type "kettlebells" into the YouTube search window because it is short, yet gives you a good idea of what the exercises are like.
So, I'll be adding kettlebell to my weekly workout schedule. I'm shooting for 3-4 times per week, but I need to see how sore I am tomorrow; it may take more than one day of rest to recover from this...