There is no doubt that kettlebell training can be very effective but can it or should it completely replace all other forms of strength training? Personally, I don’t think so.
Many of the exercises common in kettlebell training require a high degree of athletic ability. There is nothing wrong with this as such but suddenly there are a lot of exercisers performing movements like snatches and cleans with no real idea of how to do these exercises safely. The hip-hinge, a pre-requisite for performing many explosive kettlebell exercises, takes good instruction and lots of practice to do well. Subsequently, many self-taught kettlebell users are placing themselves at risk but not getting good instruction from the outset.
The lack of adjustability in weight means that you have to buy more kettlebells as you get stronger and they aren’t that cheap! Once you outgrow your kettlebell, your workouts will become less demanding and therefore less effective. On the flip side, buying a kettlebell that is too heavy may lead to injury. It’s not like you can use the same kettlebell for all exercises either – some exercises need a heavy weight while others need a lighter weight so if you want to perform a variety of exercises, chances are you will need a selection of kettlebells. This is no problem if you belong to a well equipped gym but if you train at home, this can represent a large investment.
Finally, some strength training exercises are simply more effective using good old barbells and dumbbells. It is very difficult to overload your lower body muscles using kettlebells whereas squats and deadlifts using an Olympic bar are an effective way to strengthen your legs. It’s a case of technical failure occurring before muscular overload is reached. Sometimes, simple but heavy is best.
Kettlebells are a great workout tool but like the suspension trainers, they are just one of the many tools that can make up a well-rounded physical training program.