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Kettlebells “The Beginning”

I was first introduced to kettlebells a few years ago when one of the older guys in the fight team I was a part of started to train with them.  To be honest I wasn’t really that interested at the time and couldn’t see just how important a training tool they were obviously I wasn’t meant to find them at that time.

Around November 2008 I decided to invest in my first set of kettlebells.  They were cast iron and I went to a garden centre bought a big plastic lockable container with a padlock and tucked my shiny new bells away in the corner of the commercial gym.

When we used them at first, it was to use them as an alternative to standard barbell and dumbbell weights and to give me a different training tool while working with my students in the commercial gym.  In all honesty, I didn’t know what to do with them.  It’s quite funny now, one of the more experienced trainers at that time challenged me on them said I was crazy and they would hurt people’s backs.

The best thing about that guy is he is now advertising himself as a Mr kettlebell after buying a certificate for a few bob and taking part in a 2-bit instructors course.  I wonder what his next fad will be.

I was always of the intention of learning how to use kettlebells the correct way but until I became a Certified Kettlebell Trainer the only exercise I was willing to use while training my clients was the swing.

I prepped my clients at first by introducing them to swinging a dumbbell this was to get their bodies into the grove of swinging and also to make the transition to using a kettlebell easier.  Everyone loved using the bells and found them very challenging and intensive just what we want when training.

I had heard people talking about a kettlebell teacher and trainer from Edinburgh a guy called Rannoch Donald.  A friend had told me that Rannoch was bringing some top kettlebell trainers over to Scotland from America and that they were going to hold the first IKFF Certified Kettlebell Trainers course in Scotland.

This was happening in the February of 2009 and after making contact with Rannoch chatting through a few things I decided that this was a path I wanted to take.  I scraped the cash together for my cert and we put Julies on the plastic.  I procrastinated a lot about whether or not we could afford it.  Turns out it was one of the best decisions I have made in my adult life.

Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn were the two main coaches who were teaching the course at the time coaches I hadn’t been exposed to and that was about to change.

Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn you can check them out here

That video was shot 4 years ago here is a more recent video of Steve.

They are the directors and chief instructors of the IKFF.

“The IKFF is an organization whose goals are two-fold: to promote Kettlebell training and complete mind/body fitness on a global scale and to support our members in developing the all-encompassing skills needed to accelerate their own fitness and fitness-oriented businesses.  The vision in creating this is to offer passionate fitness enthusiasts a no-nonsense, ever-evolving resource they can trust is on the cutting edge of athletic training and conditioning” (taken from IKFF website)

The course was a Saturday and Sunday two day intensive certification covering all the basics and fundamentals of kettlebell lifting and bodyweight training.  The course was amazing and gave me the tools to take my own kettlebell training to a much higher level.  It also gave me the qualifications I required to teach my students correctly.

It was the start of a total change of direction for me as an athlete and a trainer and one I enjoy learning to practice and training every day.  I have a photo album of the day here.

Since the first CKT.  I furthered my knowledge and that of y crew by attaining CKT Level 2. Fitness and Movement Dynamics Specialist.  Since then my Crew and I have attended both courses twice in order to keep our knowledge and understanding as fresh as possible.  All the coaches at DMC Fitness are CKT 1 & 2 Certified with recognised up to date qualifications

I have build a good relationship with our teacher Steve and this is what he had to say about me and my crew

“I have had the great pleasure of coaching Davie and getting to know him as an athlete, a trainer, and a man over the last 4 years.  I can’t say enough good things about Davie’s enthusiasm and sincere passion to help his clients and students achieve their goals, as he has and continues to achieve his own. You will be in great hands with Davie and his training crew. He truly cares about your health well being and progress.  Train with Davie, he is able to take you farther than you can take yourself. “.

Steve Cotter, Director & Founder of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation

some of you may be reading this wondering what a Kettlebell is and why use them.  I have detailed a brief description below.

What are Kettlebells,

Kettlebells look like a cannonball with a handle they have origins in Russia, India, and Greece and have been used since the turn of the century.  The use and sport of kettlebells is very popular throughout the world due to the amazing conditioning effect they have.   They are favoured within many MMA academies and are used as part of the testing and training of many Special Forces units throughout the world.

Why use them.


Using kettlebells as a training tool will bring many benefits some of these being,

  • Full body conditioning – the body learns to work as an integrated unit linking the muscles together to work as a team rather than in isolation
  • Maximum results for minimum training time – the workouts are short sharp and straight to the point even when the practitioner becomes more experienced the workouts never get easier all the time they become more challenging
  • Due to linkage of the muscles working together this builds a strong unity within the body and this can help to prevent the cause of injury
  • When training with kettlebells both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are used simultaneously

What are the athletic benefits?

  • Increased strength without increased mass
  • Learning how to produce and reduce force
  • Improved mobility and range of motion
  • Enhanced athletic and sporting performance

Kettlebells can be used for many different methodologies these being

  • Kettlebell training for general fitness
  • Kettlebells for sport
  • Kettlebell juggling
  • Kettlebell for functional/sport specific activities

There are specific movement mechanics

  • Ballistic lifts
  • High tension lifts
  • Tension regulation

What are the movements called and what are the athletic benefits of training these movements?

  • Swing – the swing is the foundational exercise in kettlebell training it teaches the key motions and principles utilized in many of the other exercises – most notably the ballistic movements.
  • Muscles used – quads gluets hamstring hips adductors back shoulders and forearms
  • Benefits – develops strength endurance work capacity and core strength. With regards to functional movement it teaches hip extension how to produce and reduce force and linking the upper and lower body together into one unit.
  • Variation two handed swing – single swing – swing to switch
  • Clean – the kettlebell clean is both a standalone exercise and also the intermediate point for the clean and jerk and pressing.  The later transitional point is commonly referred to as the rack position
  • Primary muscles used – quads glutes hamstrings hips adductors shoulders and core – in addition there is a pulling component to the clean which activates the lats biceps and forearms
  • Variations – none
  • Benefits– develops strength endurance work capacity and core strength. With regards to functional movement it teaches hip extension how to produce and reduce force and linking the upper and lower body together into one unit.  The rack portion of the clean is useful for improving shoulder flexibility and teaching the body to relax while under load
  • Over Head Pressing – primary muscles used shoulders arms and back
  • Benefits develops strength, muscle mass and all round conditioning for the upper body and core muscles
  • Variations – 1 arm military press – contra lateral – Ipsa lateral – two arm press – one arm bottoms up press – alternating press – push press


Core work is an essential addition to any workout.  Although all of the above exercises train these muscles to some degree the exercise below directly attack this area.

Primary muscles used all core muscles (your tummy and your lower back)

Benefits – conditioning the core provides a strong and stable link between the upper and lower body.  This improves athletic performance and makes you more resistant to injury

Variations – get up sit up – Turkish get up – lunge variations – squat variations – Windmill – low windmill – high windmill – low/high windmill – Russian twist

The above exercises I have detailed are the primary lifts once you have mastered these then you progress onto more complicated variations. (Info taken from IKFF CKT Handbook)

One of the big things in the British fitness industry is kettlebells classes.  These are popping up in commercial gyms all over the place.  Some are good some are a circuit promoted in a way to match with the latest fad.

The best thing is at last people are recognising how fantastic a training tool they are.

So for everyone who would like to take their kettlebell training and knowledge to a whole new level  We teach Kettlebells for fat loss cardio and core Monday and Thursday (beginners welcome) and The Glasgow Kettlebell Club trains Monday and Friday evenings at the DMC Fitness Headquarters.  I hope to see you there soon

Thanks for reading

Until the next time


“Strength for Life”