The Great Kettlebell Handbook

Kettlebells are not only the hot thing in fitness equipment, but they’re also the latest subject in a series of “Great Handbooks” – concise booklets that focus on the basics of an activity or piece of equipment with illustrated exercises.

Kettlebells are not only the hot thing in fitness equipment, they’re also the latest subject in a series of “Great Handbooks” – concise booklets that focus on the basics of an activity or piece of equipment with illustrated exercises.

For the uninitiated, a kettlebell is basically a round lump of iron slightly flattened on the bottom so it can sit on the ground. Plus, it has a curved handle for gripping and lifting. Dating back decades to Soviet bodybuilding and training, kettlebells have been downsized in the modern age to accommodate a wider variety of body sizes and fitness levels.

Like many pieces of exercise gear that can do so many things for you, kettlebells remain just hunks of iron unless you know how to use them. That’s where this booklet comes in handy: You likely don’t need or want to know every last detail about a kettlebell, its history and uses. What you want to know is how to use them safely and what the menu of exercises looks like.

With only 64 pages, this book is concise, but also crammed with so much how-to information, advice about body alignment, safety precautions, modifications, exercises and illustrations that it’s a goldmine for any kettlebell user. Even those considering a kettlebell routine can benefit since a few short pages at the front offer advice about how to choose kettlebells and different types available.

The models are fit without being intimidating and, best of all, they have superior body alignment. The book emphasizes safe use throughout and deciphers the lingo used with the routines, referring you back to the definitions and the pages they are on when they come up in the exercises. The authors also avoid the use of technical mumbo-jumbo that would be foreign to most people and useful to only trained users or instructors. That deserves a round of applause.

Everybody knows the “For Dummies” series of books with the tagline “A reference for the rest of us.” Well, think of this as “Kettlebells For Dummies” because it is indeed a reference.

In fact, the book attempts to be THE reference for kettlebells, and our one criticism is that it might be too packed. The photos of exercises are small, and some pages are jammed with a lot of text. It could have been more effective to leave out a handful of exercises and spread out a few of the exercises a bit more. Some readers might need to keep their eyeglasses handy and take breaks mid-exercise to stop and stoop to read and digest the text.

Nevertheless, that’s a small quibble. It’s a great reference – for all of the rest of us.

SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

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