I just got a great question from an out of town friend looking for training advice, and realized it’s probably a common question, and so I wanted to share it and my answer:

Q: “I want to do some exercises with kettle bells, but I have no idea what would be the better exercises… I have to get back into training for the tough mudder.

I ran the tough mudder last year in Orillia and got my butt handed to me… running up and down ski hills and the obstacles… I was hurting.”

A: “Easy answer – learn how to do swings (properly), kb rows, Turkish getups, goblet squats, and presses. Best option to learn – search on youtube for each exercise and either ‘RKC’ or ‘Strongfirst’. Those are both certifications that are excellent and teach their trainers well. I wouldn’t trust generic youtube videos from people who don’t have those designations because there’s a lot of garbage out there. Like KB swings that go from flexed to extended backs.”

That was the end of our brief Facebook chat, but I would like to add the following: Of course your best bet is to actually go train with someone who will teach the movements properly, and know how to program and progress them to optimize your results relative to your goals. Best way to find that would be to also search for a personal trainer or kettlebell instructor in your area who has one of the two designations noted above (RKC and Strongfirst, or HKC). There are some good trainers out there who don’t have those designations who can teach you kettlebells well who don’t have those designations (myself for instance), but if you are picking someone without knowing them, make sure you have some information that points to them being good.

Kettlebells are amazing tools if used with great form and appropriate volume; but those are two big ifs.

I suggest adopting these two rules if you plan to use kettlebells:
1. Learn to use them properly.
2. Learn to say it properly. Let me fix this one for you right now: It’s a bell, not a ball.


Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa who incorporates lots of kettlebell exercises with her clients. If you’re in Ottawa, consider signing up for our kettlebell class.

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