“My son wants to start training to get a stride up on the competition on the ice, what kind of equipment should I buy? A Bowflex? Dumbells? A Bench Press? There is so much out there and I don’t know what to choose.”
I am often presented with this situation from players and hockey teams that I train. More often than not, my answer to the question of what is the most effective piece of training equipment to purchase for home use is the kettlebell.
There are a variety of reasons why I recommend kettlebells time and time again. It is not necessarily that kettlebells are better than barbells, dumbbells or cable pulley machines but rather in my experience, kettlebells are much more versatile. Kettlebells can be used for many strength movements, such as squats, lunges and presses, as well as power exercises, such as cleans and snatches. The swing and its variations possess similar stretch‐shortening cycle characteristics to that of plyometrics, which are also known to be one of the best ways to improve power. Kettlebells provide a cardiovascular stimulus which is second to none, and can also be used to greatly improve range of motion and flexibility. If used properly, kettlebells allow for many exercises which improve the functional strength of an athlete by targeting the body as a whole rather then its individual segments. The answer to the question of “what muscle is this working?” is almost always “all of them” when using kettlebells. The kettlebell handle is also wide enough to allow for both hands which gives you a lot of flexibility when choosing exercises and progressing.
The second reason is along the same line as the first. One or two kettlebells is all you need in order to get all of the benefits described above. You do not need to buy kettlebells in pairs, and there is no need for an entire rack with all different weights. In addition to their versatility, kettlebells are relatively inexpensive given the bang they provide for your buck.
I also suggest kettlebells so often because along with being versatile and fairly inexpensive, they take up very little room in the house. You do not need a separate workout space in order to house your equipment, and a kettlebell can also be taken outside quite easily. Perhaps an even better application of this is that kettlebells can be easily transported via car, leaving no excuse for why you have not been training when you are away from home.
Kettlebells are a great choice of exercise for athletes of all ages because they teach and force athletes to train movements, rather than muscles. They also provide an excellent workout to the posterior chain, which so often gets underworked in traditional “pushup/situp” style dryland training programs.
As with any type of exercise equipment, kettlebells require a certain level of technique and proficiency in order to do the exercises safely. Be sure to get an adequate amount of coaching from a certified instructor before beginning a kettlebell training program on your own.