Host: Dr. Scott Jablonka (Carolina Movement Doc)

Episode Summary

Today’s topic is centered around the Kettlebell, the single most crucial piece of equipment every runner, gym, or rehab facility should have.

In this episode, Dr. Scott Jablonka covers effective applications of the kettlebell for all groups of athletes, patients in rehabilitation, and general use in exercise. Also discussed are some kettlebell techniques and their goals.

New to the gym? Enjoy Dr. Jablonka’s free courses!

Dr. Jablonka has just launched two free courses to help beginners get started in the gym. Check them out on his website:

  1. Introduction to Functional Fitness
  2. Introduction to Olympic Lifting


The Kettlebell is the one piece of equipment your gym needs.

Top Takeaway

  • “The kettlebell is probably the most underutilized, underappreciated piece of gym equipment, piece of rehab equipment, that I’ve ever experienced.”
    – [Dr. Scott Jablonka]
  • “I can probably program an entire month’s worth of workout for athletes in the gym and clients in the clinic, using nothing but a kettlebell.”
    – [Dr. Scott Jablonka]
  • “Anything done poorly is dangerous, no matter what.”
    – [Dr. Scott Jablonka]
  • “There’s a fear aspect when it comes to working with kettlebells.”
    – [Dr. Scott Jablonka]
  • “The kettlebell is the magic bullet for training your body.”
    – [Dr. Scott Jablonka]
  • “Simple is great; do simple things well, and do simple things often.”
    – [Dr. Scott Jablonka]

Episode Highlights

  • [[01:15] Intro
  • [03:34] How the Kettlebell is apt for beginners.
  • [06:37] Why are Kettlebells so important?
  • [09:10] Different uses of the kettlebell.
  • [14:30] How to start using kettlebells.
  • [16:53] Combining strength training with cardio using kettlebells
  • [19:32] Highlighting some kettlebell techniques.

Episode Notes

Recently, more of Dr. Scott Jablonka’s clients have been new runners who haven’t had much strength and resistance training. They try to figure things out by mimicking what they see other runners do. Without proper guidance, this explains why they have frequent injuries despite a lower load and intensity. In Dr. Jablonka’s program, he introduces them to the strength aspect of training, hence today’s discussion on the Kettlebell.

The Kettlebell

The kettlebell is probably the most underutilized, underappreciated piece of gym and rehab equipment Dr. Jablonka has come across. It is useful for headaches, shoulder pain, and ankle pain. Because of its light weight, it is less intimidating for beginners in the gym who haven’t had strength training.

The kettlebell has been around as far back as ancient Greece and has been used in farming till it was converted into a sports tool. It was popularized by a Russian coach who now has courses available to teach rehabilitation professionals how to effectively implement it.

The uniqueness of the kettlebell is largely a function of its shape: a giant cast iron ball with a handle. This shape makes it less predictable compared to a dumbbell. It adds a component of stability that challenges other muscle groups of the user, which results in concurrent balance training. It is useful in different motions like pushing, pulling, pressing, swinging, squatting, and twisting.

It is cheap and easy to keep. Most importantly it is incredibly effective when implemented correctly.

Why are kettlebells so effective?

The main reason why the kettlebell is highly effective is that it combines 2 aspects that are often at loggerheads when it comes to exercise; cardio and strength training. This can be achieved by using lighter weights for more reps in cardio or the heavier ones to work on strength.

Ultimately, the kettlebell allows you to work so many muscles in the body as a whole. Patients with medical issues around the shoulder or neck may benefit from using kettlebell exercises to assess for recovery.

How do athletes utilize the kettlebell?

Group of people doing a kettlebell workout

For athletes, one of the uses of the kettlebell is to recreate the aggressive hip extension and plantarflexion movements needed in sprinting. This is done through similarly aggressive kettlebell swings targeting those muscle groups. Cyclists need a lot of lower body strength, which can be increased by incorporating kettlebell exercises at higher intensities. The offset weight of kettlebells helps work on balance and stability which is a very unique provision of the kettlebell.

How can older athletes utilize the kettlebell?

Since falls are the biggest concern of older generations or veteran seasoned athletes, using the low-weight Kettlebells to improve stability and balance will reduce falls in nursing homes and rehab facilities. This in turn cuts down the number of injuries and hospital visits for them.

Consequently, the kettlebell improves longevity and quality of life, the major core of our discussions right from Season 1, Episode 1: Sickness, wellness and fitness continuum of health; listen to this episode to get a better grasp of the conversation.

Getting started with the kettlebell

When starting kettlebell swings, it is important to start with smaller weights. This will help you keep a decent form and maintain good technique. It is advisable to err on the side of safety and start with low weights while being introduced to grip strength and dynamic weight control.

Notably, Dr. Stuart McGill, well known for his research on spine health, has hugely supported the use of kettlebells.

Kettlebell exercises

Woman holding a kettlebell above her head

Here are some kettlebell techniques employed by Dr. Jablonka. You can search YouTube for a better understanding of each movement.

  • Farmer’s Carry loads the spine and works on the arms and the core through the lifting of 2 kettlebells with good posture, causing no injury to the back.
  • Overhead Kettlebell Carry is very efficient for the arms and shoulder health while working more to maintain the offset balance and stability.
  • Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing utilizes one arm to swing, which is quite efficient for baseball players, especially pitchers.
  • The Kettlebell Snatch is a more technical single-arm movement that works on the wrist, arm, forearm, elbow, shoulder as well as lower body.
  • Turkish get-up is quite famous and targets the upper extremities, neck, and thoracic spine.
  • Goblet Squat is highly effective.
  • The Kettlebell Swing is also good for rehab if carried out well.
  • For the trunk, the Turkish Sit-up is a long leg sit-up done while holding the kettlebell straight up either with one or two arms.
  • The Overhead Kettlebell Walks work on the core, and it is basically just walking while holding the kettlebell over your head.
  • Russian Twists help work on the transverse plane but should be done with caution and guidance to avoid injury.

Reach out to Dr. Jablonka on Instagram to be featured on the podcast. Patients can also reach out to him through his website.


Find | Dr. Scott Jablonka (the Carolina Movement Doc)