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Too old for kettlebells? Oh my back!

I don't think so!  I have seen and heard great success with people training with kettlebells anywhere between the ages of 11-90 years old.  I have had several emails in the last couple months from people in their 60's, 70's, and 80's enjoying the benefits of kettlebell training.  As we all know, when learned properly, the benefits are endless.  Many people past the age of 50, that I have spoken to, tend to be intimidated with kettlebell swings.  The first thing I hear from them is, "I don't think my back can handle that" or "My back is not strong enough to do that type of movement."  It's very sad when I hear these statements only because I try to explain to them that when eased in to a kettlebell program their weak back will get stronger, which will help avoid injury in the long run. 

My own mother has had back problems for years!!  She hurt her back 35 years ago from lifting people out of wheelchairs.  Since then she has always been extremely cautious when it comes to her back which has left it very weak and fragile.  Naturally, she was very intimidated to give the kettlebell swing a try.  I only want the best for my mother so I would never have her do something that would hurt her.  She decided to trust me (it's always hard to get your own family to do something).  To start, I went through a simple swing progression session with her.  First starting with a proper deadlift, then slowly teaching her a proper hip snap with no kettlebell, and finally adding the kettlebell.  This all took place in a matter of 20 minutes.  By the 25 minute mark she was comfortable swinging a 26lb kettlebell.  My mom is only 105 pounds, she's a very small lady, so that was very impressive.  She was so happy that she didn't want to stop.  I had to tell her to put the bell down so we could see how her body responded the next day.  The next day came and she told me her back never felt better!  To hear these words just proved to me again that kettlebells are not the enemy for a weak back.  You will only strengthen and protect your back muscles.  Of course when done incorrectly it can be detrimental to your body.  Like anything done wrong.  That is why it's so important when starting out to really make sure you have proper form and ease yourself in to a program. 

Here is an email that I received from a man who is 80 years old:

There it was Sphere,horns and Handle, I had heard of it, read of it and now I was the owner of this particular one 8Kg Kettlebell.  OK,what do I do with it?  Began the search on the computer and found out there where books, DVD´s etc...
But how do I get them and how long would it take in western Mexico? Up popped your article,

My wife and I are öld fölks, she in the 70´s, and this year I will be 80. Have exercised most of my life, begining in the service and up till now focused on Pushups and Pullups. The Reps got longer and the time too.  With your help, I can do pretty much what I need in 30 minutes, three times a week.  Just wanted to thank you and if sometime you have a workshop, Please let us know.
Nick and Mayda 

This here proves that kettlebells can be done at any age. I could not be happier with the career path I have taken. I love what I do and I love hearing and seeing the positive influences and changes in peoples lives.  Here is a link to my DVD "The Ultimate Body Sculpt and Conditioning with Kettlebells" if you want to learn how to use kettlebells properly or improve your form. Not everyone lives nearby a qualified kettlebell instructor, therefore this DVD is the next best thing. 


Lauren said…
Lauren, I completely agree with you! I'm not "old" yet, but I broke my lower back when I was just 12 years old (the L4 vert.). I was in a body brace for months, had pt, and wasn't allowed to do much phys. ed. stuff again until I was 18. Needless to say, I am very cautious about the activities I engage in, since I could re-break it and even become paralyzed.

With this kind of condition, people might think that I wouldn't want to exercise at all. But actually, the opposite is true! When I let the muscles in my back weaken, my chronic back pain gets WORSE. When I build up my back's strength, it feels SO much better, and I can do everyday activities much longer before needing to rest!

A couple of months back I mentioned to an acquaintance, who is an aerobics instructor, that I was getting into kettlebells, and she said she'd heard of them but that they sounded dangerous, especially for the back. I was shocked! I mean, any physical activity done incorrectly will be harmful. But because Kbells are a weight-baring activity, they're actually extremely helpful in building up your back's strength,

Anyway, this "comment" has turned into a "post," so I should stop rambling :) I just thought I'd add my own personal anecdote. I can't wait to have my baby next month and get back into a kbell routine- I love your dvd!
Great post Lauren! I have had clients of all ages enjoying using the kettlebells!

They are a very useful bit of kit, would highly recommend them to any personal trainer!

Lauren Brooks said…

Wow that is an amazing story! You should write an article on how exercise especially with kettlebells have helped your back after breaking it!!!

I wish you a very safe and easy labor. I can't wait to see pictures of your baby. Please email me when that time comes. I know you'll be busy, but pictures are always great!!!

Thanks again for sharing this.
Anonymous said…
I am just getting started with kettlebells. I have a dvd for beginners and I can't even make it though the instructions! My back has obviously been under used because halfway through the instructions I couldn't stand up straight anymore. It gives me hope that if I stick with this my back will be strong and I will be lean and into the size 8 that I want to be.

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