Basic Equipment for a Home Fitness Program (Part 3 of 4)

In the spirit of Keeping it Short and Simple we continue with the next two items (of only 7) to add to your home gym … a kettlebell and a bar.

Kettlebell:  This is a great piece of equipment, and has gained recent popularity in the U.S. thanks to a humorous Russian, Pavel Tsatsouline.  (We just call him Pavel, since we can’t quite get our mouth around Tsatsouline.  We don’t know any other Pavels, and are pretty sure our comrade doesn’t mind that we refer to him by just his first name.  In fact, go ahead … google “Pavel” and see what you find! )  A good size kettlebell for most women to start with would be one between 17.6 pounds and 26.5 pounds (8 – 12 kg).  (Actually, many men would be well-advised to start with something in the same range … )  Kettlebells are often used dynamically, so generally you’ll be working with one that’s a little heavier than what you’d choose if using a dumbbell for presses, rows, flyes, etc.

  • Where to get one:  Use your web browser to search “kettlebell” or “Russian kettlebell” to get an idea of prices.  Once you get a sense of prices, check out shipping, because it may be a deal-breaker.  It’s also possible to call around to sporting goods stores to see if they have them available and in stock.  Do call first, though, as many stores do not carry them yet.
  • Options:  Dumbbells can be used for some (but not all) kettlebell activities but, as with kettlebells, they will need to be a little heavier than what you’d ordinarily choose as a weight to lift.  You’ll also want to be sure that you can safely hold a heavy dumbbell.  Women with tiny hands may not be able to swing a large dumbbell with one hand, but will require the use of both hands.  Be willing to be flexible.  You can search the web for various options for making your own kettlebells, but for our time and money, you’re better off just getting one or using a dumbbell substitute.  Most of the make-at-home kettlebells we’ve checked out look like a formula for disaster!

Bar: (Please note that we’re not referring to an establishment where alcoholic drinks are served, but rather a horizontal bar that serves as a support for a variety of challenging exercises which we won’t describe in detail now as, if we did, you would surly go running for the hills.)  A bar that can be set at various heights is a great thing to have spanning a doorway in any dwelling, as it can be used for a variety of exercises and, as a bonus, if you put it across the doorway to a frequently-accessed room, you will have an easy reminder to do a few pull-ups, horizontal rows, inclined or declined push-ups, or whatever; otherwise, you’re going to be clonked, tripped or otherwise messed up.   (Remember to ask us someday about Uncle T, who kept tripping over one of our bars whenever it was set at a low level, and then knocking himself out when it was set higher … we really, truly tried to keep him out of harm’s way, but no matter where it was set, it was an “Uncle T Magnet.”  We still chuckle when we think about it, but please don’t tell him you heard about it from us!)

  • Where to get one:  Use your web browser to search “pull-up bar,” “chin-up bar” or “universal door-mount bar.”  These are easily obtained from any local sporting goods store.  Try to find one that has the ability to be mounted (and easily moved) to at least 2 or 3 levels.  Also, note that some models require no “installation,” as they hang right over the top of the door jam (and can only be used at a high level).  Others require installing little doohickeys into the edges of the door jams, but the bar can then be easily lifted out and moved to another level.  Alternatively, you can make your own.
  • Options: We are quite certain that many of you reading this post are perfectly capable of making your own “pull-up bar” (suitable for a variety of exercises other than pull-ups).  Just google “making a pull-up bar;” you’ll get over 15,000 hits in less than a second.  Although a simple contraption (actually no more complicated than a tree branch or a playground jungle gym cross piece), we don’t want to give you the idea that committing your full body weight to a skinny little bar is something to take lightly.  (Review Newton’s Second Law of Motion!)   Check the web for “pull-up bar comparisons” or “pull-up bar reviews” to learn a little about the different styles of bars and how they attach to a door and, only then, decide if you want to buy one or make your own.  Whatever you decide, we recommend a bar that you can easily move between 2 different heights and, rather than setting the second pair of brackets low for use with crunches (not done in KISS Workouts … no way … not ever!), that you install the second set of brackets so the bar can be set approximately mid-way up the height of the doorway.

Check back next week when we wrap up this series on home gym equipment with a discussion on sandbags and dumbbells.

© Cathy Larripa and Kissworkouts, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cathy Larripa and KissWorkouts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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