If this is the case then I would have to say that, no, kettlebells are not dangerous.
Yet just about anything can be dangerous depending on its use. The knives in your kitchen can be used for helping to prepare a meal or as a deadly weapon. A car is great for transport but it has the potential to cause massive damage.
As with anything relatively heavy there is the potential for injury. The question to be asking is are kettlebells any more dangerous then barbells or dumbbells?
To that I would say no. Why might someone think they are more dangerous then other weights?
If someone completely unfamiliar with kettlebells lifts them not understanding how the offset center of mass changes the center of mass and the movement of kettlebells then they could put themselves in a bad situation. But with a little experience or coaching there is no more danger in this.
Besides that kettlebells need to be used with the same respect as any other piece of weight training equipment. As it may be instructive I’ll list the two times I have hurt myself using kettlebells and what you can learn from my stupidity.
1. Snatching The “Beast”
Many years ago I was working up to snatching the Beast, which is the nickname for a 106 lb. kettlebell. I made progress and eventually was successful. About a week later, since I had already done it, I thought it would be no big thing to do it again during a circuit. While I did accomplish it once again, on the downswing the kettlebell pulled me out of place tweaking my back.
What happened here? The kettlebell was a bit too heavy and outside of my control. While I was able to manage this, when I wasn’t on top of it completely, I suffered the consequences. Letting a kettlebell pull you out of place is never good.
Another time I was doing stacked kettlebell presses. That is you lift two kettlebells in a single hand. This allows you to lift more weight while also making the move a bit harder. Again I was going heavy, at my limit. On one rep I lost control at the top. Instead of bailing out, throwing the kettlebells away (and I was outside capable of doing this) I tried to control them on the way down. What happened is I held onto them but my ring finger got caught between the handles crushing it badly. No broken bones but I did manage to permanently fatten that finger. I call it my ET finger now.
What happened here? Stacked presses can be a useful method of lifting, though I tend to shy away from them now. The biggest thing to realize is to never fight a falling kettlebell. Let go and get away from it!
As you can see in both these stories that I was more at fault then the kettlebell. And I could tell you other stories of hurting myself with standard barbells and dumbbells for similar reasons. As long as you have some idea of what you’re doing, respect the weight, and are paying attention you’ll get away injury free.
I’m happy to report I haven’t had any injury in some time now.
I feel I should mention kettlebell juggling as it is one thing I’m known for. Yes it is more dangerous in that the kettlebell is now flying around. But I have never hurt myself doing kettlebell juggling. This art requires complete attention, which may sometime go absent in other exercises. I think that can actually help. Besides you will develop the ability to move quickly to get out of the way of a errant kettlebell. And if you don’t, you’ll be sure to move quick enough next time.
I hope this article lays to rest whether kettlebells are dangerous or not.
About the author
Logan Christopher runs Legendary Strength which is dedicated to finding the best methods of getting strong and fit. You’ll find much more on kettlebell training there.