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A Kettle What?

Kettlebells may have an odd name and look kind of funny - sort of like a cannonball with a handle - but used correctly they can actually be very useful (and fun).

Reason to try the bell # 1

Using the kettlebell will strengthen your wrists. This is especially true if you do exercises holding the bell portion up in the air; your wrists have to work hard to keep the bell facing straight up toward the ceiling.

I am sure you are thinking "why should I care about the strength of my wrists"? I know, the wrists are not a typical "goal" body part, but for many their wrists are a "weak links". The problem with having a weak link is it halts other muscle groups and movements from getting stronger; you will never reach your full pull-up or push-up potential if your wrists are proportionally weaker.

These two exercises are personal favorites – believe me, they are deceptively challenging!

• Single-arm bell-up kettlebell press: Stand with your knees slightly bent, core engaged. Hold the kettlebell at chest height, bell facing the ceiling. Press the bell up 10 to 15 times. Don't let the bell wobble. Repeat with other hand.

• Single-arm bell-up farmer's walk: Hold the kettlebell up, arm straight and above your shoulder. Keep the bell stable, use your core and don't let your hips or shoulders rotate side to side as you walk across the floor for one minute. Repeat with the bell in your other hand.

Reason to try the bell # 2

The moves are highly functional and athletic; most of them require power and explosiveness. if you are an athlete training for a sport doing kettlebell exercises could put that extra pep in your step - give you a competitive advantage.

I have a love-hate relationship with kettlebells. Because of my participation in endurance sports my body is programmed to move at a relatively consistent pace. The powerful movements the bell requires don't come naturally to me, but I force myself to use them because I know my body needs to be comfortable working at different speeds.

A staple of kettlebell training is the "swing." Start by standing, feet wider then shoulder-width apart, holding the handle of the kettlebell with both hands. Use your hips to generate force so that the kettlebell swings in front of you up to about eye height. Let the bell swing back down between your legs and repeat 10 to 12 times. Keep your arms straight and core engaged as you swing.

Reason to try the bell # 3

Kettlebells offer an intense full body workout, and possibly more importantly they are fun and can be used to mix up a routine. Workout boredom is the kiss of death.

You don't have to do exercises that involve the swinging morion. If you are wary of the momentum needed for the swing - the swinging motion is advanced and not for everyone - use the kettlebell but skip the momentum-based exercises. Try incorporating it into more traditional weight exercise.

Try "walking bell lunges": Hold a kettlebell in your right hand, with your arm straight, positioned directly above your head. Keep the bell portion of it facing straight up as you do walking lunges forward across the floor. Do 10 reps before continuing with the bell in your left hand.

Final note, kettlebells are an advanced training tool. Make sure you are comfortable with traditional weight training before you incorporate the bell into your routine. Take the time to learn proper technique so you don't injure yourself.