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Strong Athlete: Kettlebell Basics

| By Ameer Rosic |

Kettlebells aren’t just a fad for wannabe weight trainers.  They have been around for a long time and the heavy iron that they are cast from will be around long after the wannabes inevitably give up and go home, looking the same.  If you want to experience some of the most intense training there is, follow me down the rabbit hole and let’s get started.

You are probably wondering what the f__k I am talking about and how can kettlebells give you one of the most intense workouts of your life.  When I first looked at kettlebells, I thought the same thing.  You gotta admit it; a kettlebell is a very weird looking object. I like to keep an open mind, so I didn’t judge the kettlebell by its appearance.  I invite you to do the same thing.  Just give them a shot and you won’t be disappointed.

Kettlebells: Humble Beginnings to Russian Special Forces Training

As an avid kettlebell practitioner and athlete, I wanted to touch upon the history of the kettlebell. The origins of the kettlebell can be traced back to Russia (Girya in Russian).  My research on the topic revealed that the kettlebell has its roots in the Russian shipping industry as an anchor for ropes thrown off the boats.  You wanted hardcore, right?  Seamen used to juggle them for extra tips and money when they were docked.

The showmanship of these sailors transformed into an almost circus-like display of juggling and transformed over time.  As early as the 1700s, kettlebells were used as counterweights for Russian farm equipment. Growing from there and gaining respect as a functional tool for development; their popularity spread throughout Russia.

Around the 1940s, the use of kettlebells had transformed into a sport known as Kettlebell (Girevoy) Sport.  It is a big subject, something that I will save for another article! Slowly, but surely, kettlebells turned into the country’s national sport.

Strong-Athlete: Kettlebell Basics

If Kettlebell training is good enough for elite Russian Special Forces, it's definitely good enough for you and I!

I think that the coolest part about kettlebell training is the knowledge that Russian Special Forces use kettlebells as a mandatory training protocol.  Again, you wanted hardcore, you got it.  If it is good enough for Special Forces, it is good enough for you and I!

But Ameer, how can I benefit from kettlebell training?  This is how. You will see an increase in the following: 

  • Mobility
  • Anaerobic Conditioning
  • Ligament & Tendon Strength
  • CNS Adaptation
  • Muscular Adaptation
  • Skeletal Density (Rock Hard Bones)

This is just the tip of the iceberg in so far as benefits that you can achieve with kettlebell training. What I will do for you today is educate you on the most basic move to begin your new voyage into kettlebell training.


Kettlebell Basics: Strong Athlete feature

Always build a strong foundation first before progressing to advanced techniques with kettlebell training.




The general rule is:

Men start with a 35lb bell (16kg)

Women begin with a 25lb (12kg)

Depending on your fitness level, you can either go up or down in bell weight.   However, I’ve found these weights to be the best for beginners.  Know your limits and respect the bells!  You don’t have to go heavy your first time out!


The truth is most of the stuff you see on the internet is pure crap.  There is no filter on the quality of the information that is disseminated on YouTube or other websites.  People have saturated the internet with uneducated/inexperienced advice that may harm YOU!

My philosophy is to always build a strong foundation first before progressing to advanced techniques.  It follows that we should then focus on the mother of kettlebell moves; the Kettlebell Swing. 

  • Stand upright with your legs approximately shoulder width apart, with the kettlebell in front of you, between your legs.
  • Start to lean forward at your waist and push your butt back.  Begin bending your knees so you activate into a semi-squat.  Keep your back straight and head looking forward to maintain stability in your back.
  • It’s all in the hips!  With the bell in both your hands, start your semi-squat, push your butt back and bring the bell between your legs, as if you are reaching for the wall behind you.  Now with your hips, you will push your body and bell back, and the kettlebell will end up at your shoulder height.
  • Once you are at the top of the swing (the kettlebell at shoulder height) it will start to drop from the top position.  Allow the bell to drop and follow its kinetic energy.  Let it swing back to the start position with the kettlebell in front of and between your legs.  Repeat.


Kettlebell Swings For Time: 10 Rounds x 1 minute with 1 minute rest between Rounds


I suggest that you take this movement and practice it.  The saying goes perfect practice makes perfect, so I know you will take my advice and invest in learning the proper technique.  You are not a cheater and I know that through proper training you will gain mastery over this wonderful tool known as a kettlebell and get the desired results you are looking for.  From here forward, I will be featuring a different kettlebell movement/workout in every article.  And, who knows, maybe a nutrition tip or two!

Strong Athlete Contributor Ameer RosicAmeer Rosic (, the 2012 Canadian Kettlebell Biathlon Champion,   is a Strong-Athlete.  He is strong in both mind and body; something he learned as a child/young adult when he first got involved with martial arts, eventually earning his black belt in Japanese Karate Shotokan.  Since then, Ameer has continued with his commitment to excellence by leading a life devoted to health and fitness.  Ameer has trained with the Agatsu, the worldwide kettlebell organization and achieved a globally recognized kettlebell certification. In addition to all that, Ameer is a highly sought after strength and conditioning coach in Toronto, Canada.  Currently, he has published a book (The Kettlebell Advantage), is an FDN Practitioner/Nutritionist and hopes to achieve his Phd in Nutrition.

Ameer has helped change countless lives through the application and dissemination of his knowledge on kettlebell training. We are ecstatic to have him as a part of the Strong-Athlete family and hope that his contributions impact positively your training!

By |June 5th, 2012|Training|

About the Author:
Strong Athlete was founded in 2011 by Strength & Conditioning Experts PK Mills and Gaétan Boutin. With over 40+ years of combined experience in sports nutrition, athletics, and fitness, the Strong Athlete team is dedicated to helping athletes achieve their maximum potential through a holistic approach to training, nutrition, and mindset.


  1. Clay June 8, 2012 at 11:22 AM - Reply

    Great article Ameer! Thanks for the reminder that if I want to get a hardcore body in top shape… I NEED to be doing hardcore exercises!!!

    What would you suggest for someone who ha never picked up a kettlebell? Weight? Frequency? Reps?

    I’m almost ready to begin this type of training, but I want to make sure I’m doing it right to avoid injury.


    • Clay June 8, 2012 at 11:27 AM - Reply

      I see that you mentioned above the weights for beginners, as well as a suggested beginners exercise, but what are a few other beginner work outs that you can do with a kettlebell other than the swing?

    • Ameer June 8, 2012 at 5:44 PM - Reply

      Hey Clay excellent Question. For men you definitively need a 16kg bell 35lbs. In Kettlebell training we tend not to do sets but focus on Reps since we work on “work capacity”. I would recommend for beginners as stated in the above article 10 x 1 min rounds of swings with 30 sec – 1 min break in between, trust me its a work out ! Thanks Clay

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