Fitness Over 50: Exercising with the Stamina 36-Pound Adjustable Kettle Versa-Bell Kettlebell
Adjustable 36-pound Kettlebell
I may be older, but I like to exercise
I got a new toy for Christmas. The Stamina 36-pound Adjustable Kettle Versa-Bell, with a weight range from 16 to 36 pounds. Those of you who know me know I'm a 50-year old guy who really enjoys working out with the sledgehammer. But with the advent of cooler weather, people are using fireplaces now. With my allergies to wood smoke, I needed to bring my workout indoors, and a sledgehammer needs more room than I've got inside.
My own adjustable kettlebell
That being said, I've wanted to try kettlebells for years. But the cost has put me off, and so has the lack of any real know-how. I've not been certain what size/weight would be right for me, and at that price, guessing is not an option. I use a 16 pound sledgehammer, but the long handle adds extra force to the weight, so it's hard to say how that compares to a kettlebell.
All that to say, I've been effectively afraid to blow the money on an uncertain thing. Trust Monique to find a solution. This Christmas, there was a special gift under the tree - a Stamina 36-pound adjustable kettle Versa-Bell… my very own kettlebell!
From 16 to 36 pounds
Adjustable from 16 to 36 pounds
Adjustability is the key. Having a choice from 16 to 36 pounds makes choosing the right weight much easier; gives a little 'wiggle room'. It has another benefit as well, that I didn't realize until later. More than one person can use it, and set it for whatever weight works best for each of us! This surprised me, because I didn't think Monique would be interested in kettlebells. However, she seems to be enjoying it nearly as much as I do.
Aside from the money issue, there are other benefits to getting an adjustable kettlebell. You get the equivalent of 6 kettlebells, all taking up the space of a single one. Plenty of variety, and tucks away wherever you want to stash it.
Kettlebells - Cannonball with a handle
Maybe I should backtrack- I've wanted one for so long, it's kind of easy to forget kettlebells aren't mainstream, and not everybody knows what they are.
Best description I ever heard… a kettlebell looks like a cannonball with a handle. You use it mainly in a series of lifting and swinging moves. The physics of its movements are different from any other exercise equipment. Perhaps some of the moves can be replicated with dumbbells, but not all of them, and not with the same results.
The resulting kettlebell exercises bring many muscles into play in combination as your body works to stabilize an off-balance load in motion. For people who like compound exercises, this is perfect… by it's very nature, a kettlebell makes your whole body work as a single unit.
Pavel Tsatsouline... and friends
The Evil Russian
If you already know anything about kettlebells, chances are you've heard of Pavel Tsatsouline. Known as the Evil Russian, he's credited with the modern popularity of the kettlebell. He's fond of pointing out how kettlebells are a traditional form of Russian exercise, and that the Russians started off with a good kettlebell head start on the rest of the world.
I have some of his books, and personally, I think he's an absolute genius. A crazy one, but a genius. Well worth reading, even though his books are a bit high-priced.
He's one part showman, one part historian, and 98 parts effective training tactics. With Pavel, you not only learn how, you learn why, all in a very entertaining manner. If you like nonstandard training, read anything by Pavel Tsatsouline.
I have some of his non-kettlebell books, and find them truly inspirational!
How To: Kettlebell Lunge w/ Shoulder Press
Change weight quickly- 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, or 36 pounds
The Stamina 36-pound adjustable kettle Versa-bell uses a patented quick-change adjustment system. Changing the weight is quick, easy, and safe. Pop out the rubber cover (held closed by a magnetic seal), pull out the rod, and slide it in the hole corresponding with the weight you want to use.
Takes seconds to go through the range: 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, or 36 pounds, available at a moment's notice.
The handle is cast iron, with a plastic outer shell covering the metal weight plates inside. It has a great extra-wide grip, and is very thick. The Versa-bell's wide handle makes it easy to use two hands or one. It's also better for exercises that pass the bell quickly from one hand to the next. The thickness of the handle improves grip strength. The wide grip, flat base, and stable design enhance a number of other exercises as well, like Kettlebell Crush Push-ups
The Stamina Versa-Bell Adjustable Kettlebell - How it works
Mildly noisy to use
When you use the Stamina Versa-Bell, the plates clipped inside can click a little, but they're very securely locked in place. The noise doesn't make any real difference in function, but if you are actually used to using a fixed-size kettlebell, it might be disconcerting until you get start tuning out the extra sounds.
Monique demonstrating the Versa-bell in use
Burn 400 calories in 20 minutes?
I don't know the truth of it, but have seen claims that kettlebells rev your system up so much that you can exercise less and still burn fat/lose weight. I'm skeptical of any claims that 6 minutes a day can get you fit and losing weight, but if anything could make it true, it would be a kettlebell! A report published in ACE FitnessMatters claims to be the first modern study of the kettlebell. One of their findings is that an average 20-minute kettlebell workout can burn 400 calories. (For comparison, the report equated it to the calorie burn of running a 6-minute mile.) What I do know first-hand, is that when I've finished my 30-minute workout, I'm really winded. Actually, I'm gasping for air long before finishing. My endurance is improving visibly.
The perfect weight range
With a span of 16 to 36 pounds, the Stamina Adjustable Versa-Bell Kettlebell is in the perfect weight range for me. Not knowing what would be right, I started my workouts at 16 pounds. When that proved comfortable, I moved to 20. Now I'm at 24 pounds, and I think I've hit my zone. Setting the adjustable kettlebell to 24 pounds makes me struggle, but not so much that I'll hurt myself. I'm trying to exercise nearly every day for about 30 minutes. It's going very well!
Stamina Versa-Bell Adjustable Kettlebell - DemystifiedClick thumbnail to view full-size
Traditional Kettlebell shape, larger size
In shape, the Versa-bell is like a traditional kettlebell, but slightly flattened on 2 sides. Aesthetically, I find it much more pleasing than the other adjustable kettlebells available. The trade-off for the traditional shape… and for the multiple adjustability… is size. All adjustable kettlebells tend to be large, and this one is a lot bigger than a fixed-weight kettlebell. The ball is approximately 9 inches in width, and height including the handle is about 11 inches. Again, this is more likely to be a concern if you're already used to fixed-weight, smaller-sized bells. Not having any experience to compare it to, it didn't make any difference to me.
Matt included to protect your floor
Rubberized floor mat included
One last bonus to come with the package, the Stamina 36-pound adjustable kettlebell versa-bell comes with a very solid hard rubber floor mat. It's thin, very dense, and just big enough to place the kettlebell on it. With the max weight and hard edges, the Versa-bell can scuff or damage a floor if you're not careful. Stamina gives you a safe place to rest it on so you don't hurt the floor.
(But if you drop your kettlebell, all bets are off!)
How To: Turkish Get Up
Kettlebells work your entire body
A kettlebell has its strengths and weaknesses, just as any other piece of exercise equipment does. Building muscle mass with a kettlebell is possible, (look at Gerard Butler, who added muscle mass for the movie '300') but difficult. If your entire goal is size, you're better off with traditional weightlifting gear and progressive resistance.
But what it does well, it does exceedingly well. A kettlebell will get all your muscles working together. You'll build functional strength, burn body fat, strengthen joints, extend flexibility, and improve your cardio levels.
Functional, full-body strength
Since functional strength always been my goal with the sledgehammer workout, this is exactly what I want. At 50, my main concern is maintaining youth, strength, and health as well as I possibly can. I've seen people hurt themselves just leaning over to pick up the garbage… I don't want to be them! I want to be ready for anything. I want to look and act younger than I am. (Well, okay, the acting part is pretty easy- I'm still a big kid at heart.) The Versa-bell seems like an excellent route to achieving my goals. It has the benefits of being six different kettlebells in one. Easy storage. Quick adjustment. Doesn't require a lot of room to use.
Great Kettlebell - Great workouts!
I see the Stamina 36-pound adjustable kettlebell Versa-Bell as an excellent beginners kettlebell. With its oversized dimensions and plastic shell, you wouldn't want to do advanced moves like kettlebell juggling, because the Versa-bell's outer shell would likely shatter if you drop it on a hard surface. For someone like me, who's just starting out, an adjustable kettlebell is perfect. And this one has a size range that's just right for me to grow into.
The construction seems very sturdy and high-quality to me. I like my adjustable kettlebell a lot, and would gladly recommend it to anybody who's looking to shake up their workout and try something new!