These days, when you walk into a commercial gym, you can virtually guarantee that there will be a set of kettlebells lurking something in the free weight section. Thanks to the popularity of CrossFit, kettlebells are now more popular than ever before, and for good reason too.

Kettlebells are functional, they’re great for resistance workouts, they burn calories, they build strength, they work on core stability, and they help increase lean muscle mass. If you’re looking to invest in a set of kettlebells however, it pays to know as much about them as possible. Here’s a look at 5 fun facts about kettlebells.

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Kettlebell history

Like most things in life, the exact origins of kettlebells remain a mystery. The general belief, however, is that kettlebells originated in Russia, roughly around the year 1700. Back then however, kettlebells weren’t designed to help Russians get big and jacked. They were instead a farming tool used to weight down sacks of grain. In 1800, a Russian named Vladislav Kraevsky introduced Russia to kettlebells for strength and conditioning purposes. Kettlebells were almost exclusively used in the Russian fitness industry, right up until 2001, when the humble kettlebell found its way to US soil. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Bell or ball?

We now know kettlebells as kettle bells, but once upon a time, they were actually referred to as kettle-balls. If you look at the shape of them, you’ll understand why that is and we’re surprised the name hasn’t stuck actually. Kettlebells nowadays are made from solid iron in most cases. Kettle balls however, were actually once hollow on the inside.

 

Kettlebells are great for cardio

If you want to lose weight and burn fat, you normally jump on the treadmill or other similar cardio machines and work out that way. Kettlebells are heavy weights and therefore we think of them for building muscle. However, what you may not have known is that kettlebells are actually a great form of cardio. 15 minutes on a cross trainer for example, will typically burn roughly 150 calories. 15 minutes of kettlebell training however, will normally burn off as many as 300 calories.

 

Strongmen relied on kettlebells

Since the 19th century, strongmen such as Eugene Sandow and Arthur Saxon have been using kettlebells as part of their training and performance routines. These strongmen would travel the globe performing incredible feats of strength in front of a gasping audience. Kettlebells would often be used by these strongmen to help improve their strength and their grip, though many of them would also include them as part of their routines.

 

Kettlebell juggling used to be a thing

If you browse social media nowadays, you’ll see people attempting to show off and put their lives in danger just for a few ‘likes’ and ‘follows’. We’ve seen people performing barbell squats with exercise balls, lifting flaming barbells, lifting weights while stood on another person’s shoulders, and much more besides. Once upon a time however, before social media, people used to juggle kettlebells. In the 1990s, kettlebell juggling was performed to help get people interested in kettlebells.