Being an older farker, living in the bush and not having heaps of spare time to devote to training (anymore) I have been using kettlebells for the past five years to stay strong and I love them. I like the way they feel in the hand and the different moves are the closest thing I have come to contact sport or fighting, without the contact or punches to the head. They are also self-limiting and a lot easier to wriggle out from underneath if you need to.
If you are new to kettlebells, but want to start then you should go and get a couple of sessions with a qualified instructor (either RKC or StrongFirst) to ensure you are doing it right and not just setting yourself up for an injury. Youtube is great, but it doesn't provide feedback.
The best thing about them is that with only a couple of bells you can maintain a great level of strength and fitness. You don't need a heap of equipment or different weights to get a good work out and you can throw them in the boot and take them with you if needed.
I purchased a couple of 32kg adjustable kettlebells from Ironedge (Hi Eastie!) a few years back and these are great for upping your weights as you go, but not great if you are wanting to change weights up during a workout. I do have a two sets of Onnit kettlebells as well: 8, 16, 24 and 32Kg, that complement the two adjustable bells. The Onnit bells are thick handled Russian style kettlebells, whereas the Ironedge adjustable bells are competition style bells.
My current routine is a simple three day a week work out taken from the RKC book of conditioning. Mon - Turkish Get Ups, Clean & Press and Swings, Wed - TGUs and Fri - TGUs, Clean & Press and Swings. The workout is by a guy called Tim Anderson, who along with Geoff Neupert have put together the training system called Original Strength. Original Strength is the system that I credit for taking away debilitating knee and ankle pain and along with kettlebells rebuilt my shot shoulders so that I can actually throw a ball again. I highly, highly, highly recommend Original Strength. I use the various exercises as my warm up routine and also do the different exercises at other times of the day to relieve stiffness caused by sitting/driving or whatever.
Prior to this current workout routine I was doing the Simple and Sinister workout by Pavel Tsatsouline, the Russian credited with re-introducing kettlebells to the west. This was a great routine and I was doing it daily as a form of general physical preparedness after a couple of months off due to injury. It consists of two exercises; swings and get ups. Great if you are time challenged and looking to increase all around fitness.
You can get strong, very strong, using kettlebells and you can also pack on muscle. However you will never be able to push the same weights as you would using barbells as they don't make kettlebells that big. That said, though, I would challenge anyone to pick up the 32Kg bell and throw it around for a couple of complexes and not feel like they have done a hard workout.
One of my favourite exercises is the Turkish Get Up. This can be performed without weight, but by adding weight you really up the ante. I love it for how it builds armour from my toes to my finger tips and ensures that everything in between is tight and switched on.
Eastie - do you use kettlebells at all? I am wondering how you would tie it into your power lifting routines.
Happy to answer any questions on kettlebells that anyone may have.