The claim? Working out with a kettlebell (a weight that resembles a cannonball with a handle attached to the top) burns more calories and builds strength faster than traditional strength training. Gyms across the country are adding kettlebell classes, and many personal trainers incorporate the weights into clients’ workouts — all with the promise of an outsize payoff.
The truth? New research suggests that kettlebells really may get you fitter faster. In a small study from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, seasoned exercisers burned nearly 300 calories in a 20-minute workout with the weights — significantly more than they would have with conventional strength training. To avoid back strain, start with a relatively light weight (8 pounds for women, 13 pounds for men). A good beginner’s guide: the DVD Kettlebells: The Iron Core Way, Vol. 1, by personal trainer Sarah Lurie.