Size Matters – So Does Shape – New Kettlebell Designs Are Better

If I told you I was going to hit you in the arm, you probably wouldn’t be very happy with me.  It wouldn’t be a nice thing to experience, what with the pain and the bruises.

But if I gave you a choice of being hit by a pipe or a flat board, you’d undoubtedly choose the board.  After all, it’s a lot easier to absorb the impact from a flat board than from a pipe.  The board’s shape distributes the force of the blow over a larger area on your arm.  You might even get away with no bruising or long-term damage, while someone who chose to get hit by a pipe would be bruised by the ordeal.

What does this have to do with kettlebells?

That’s simple.

Working out with kettlebells isn’t a gentle activity.  It bangs and bruises your arms.  The snatch hits your forearm, and the clean hits your upper arm, and most people find it darn near impossible to get away totally unscathed.  It’s a shame, but kettlebell bruises are a fact of life in this sort of workout routine.

In fact, the 36-pound kettlebells that so many men prefer are the worst culprits when it comes to kettlebell contusions.

Kettlebell Contusions from 36-pound kettlebells

The reason 36 pounders are so dangerous is twofold:

  1. They’re small enough so that the rounded shape is like the pipe I mentioned earlier.  Impact forces are high but the force isn’t distributed over a large area of your arm, thanks to the ball-like shape.  Larger kettlebells – though heavier – don’t hit you like a pipe, they hit you like a board thanks to their larger diameters.
  2. They’re heavy enough to hit you with a good deal of momentum.  Lighter kettlebells just don’t hit you as hard as 36-pounders.

So what’s the solution to kettlebell bruises?

The way to get around this problem with traditionally-shaped kettlebells is to – you guessed it – alter the shape.

Many styles of modern adjustable kettlebells have been designed from the ground up to be better than old-fashioned models.

The engineers who invented modern ‘bells knew they didn’t need to be constrained by old styles.  They are free to apply their creativity to the design process until they come up with the best kettlebell design possible.

Modern kettlebell designs don’t cause bruises

And many good adjustable kettlebells no longer have rounded, pipe-like sides.  The Ironmaster adjustable kettlebell, for instance, has flat sides.  Bruises are almost unheard-of among guys who do snatches or cleans with the Ironmaster.  And that’s even when it’s loaded up to more than twice the weight of a 36-pound old-style ‘bell.

Even the much-maligned Powerbell by Weider is a flat-sided kettlebell.  They got it right in the initial design.

Finally, the newest adjustable kettlebell to hit the market for serious weight trainers is the flat-sided Mir adjustable kettlebell.  It’s heavy but it doesn’t bruise you up during kettlebell cleans because it was designed properly.

Bottom line

So if you’re getting bruised up, don’t think you’re just a hopeless klutz when it comes to kettlebell training.  It’s a problem with old-style kettlebells and no matter who you are, or no matter how you adjust and refine your technique, those old round-sided bells will hit you harder than modern flat-sided kettlebells.

It’s no fun being hit by a pipe, over and over again.  Get a properly-designed bell and take the first step towards making your kettlebell workout a long-term, sustainable routine that will pay off in the years to come.