Kettlebells have been around since the 1700s, when Russian strongmen first started incorporating the equipment into their fitness routines. Since then, despite the hundreds of exercise programs and equipment that have come and gone, the primitive-designed kettlebell has continued to remain a strong force in the industry.

In a new independent study commissioned by American Council on Exercise (ACE), researchers found kettlebell training not only builds strength but significantly improves aerobic capacity, core strength and dynamic balance.

"Swinging and lifting kettlebells has been known for hundreds of years to build strength and endurance, but as this study confirms, it also offers a significant cardiovascular benefit as well," said ACE Chief Science Officer Dr. Cedric Bryant. "By involving dynamic whole-body movements that target large amounts of muscle mass and multiple aspects of fitness -- for example, strength, power, balance and endurance -- kettlebells offer a challenging, efficient workout that requires a single piece of equipment."

The study, conducted by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's Department of Exercise and Sport Science, tested the fitness benefits of kettlebell training using 30 healthy, relatively fit males and females ranging in age from 19 to 25.

Prior to testing, the groups completed two kettlebell training sessions to learn the basic form for lifts researchers planned to test. All participants also underwent assessments to establish a strength and fitness baseline of aerobic capacity, grip, core and muscular strength, flexibility, and static and dynamic balance.

The study began with an eight-week training program, which consisted of hour-long training classes led by instructors holding a specialty certification in kettlebell training, twice per week. Each class consisted of a five-minute active warm-up, followed by 30 to 45 minutes of kettlebell exercises, and a 10-minute cool-down. Participants were encouraged to begin with a kettlebell weight that felt manageable, and progress to heavier weights after familiarization with the exercises.

At the end of the training period, participants underwent the same round of initial assessments used to generate a strength and fitness baseline prior to the study. In addition to predictable strength gains, participants showed a marked increase in aerobic capacity, dynamic balance and core strength. No significant changes were noted in body composition.

"The results of this study demonstrate that kettlebell training provides multiple fitness benefits making it a very time-efficient training option," Bryant said.

To download a full copy of the kettlebell study, visit