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Are Kettlebell Swings Cardio

author
Christina Perez
• Monday, 23 November, 2020
• 22 min read

Touted as the perfect exercise, kettlebellswings provide a full-body workout while burning massive calories. This explosive movement engages nearly every muscle, including the glutes, hamstrings, adductors, quads and calves.

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(Source: www.slideshare.net)

Contents

Due to its explosive nature, the kettle bell swing is ideal for both cardio and resistance training. The key is to use proper form and avoid common mistakes, such as bending your knees excessively.

This compound movement hits multiple muscles and joints, leading to greater strength and power. The initial phase of the swing engages your back muscles, namely the erector spinal and latissimus Doris.

The core muscles come into play at the halfway point, while your glutes are activated during the second phase of the movement. Over time, the kettle bell swing boosts posterior chain power development and physical performance.

This total body movement is intense and fast-paced, which helps increase your heart rate and energy expenditure. How many calories you'll burn depends on a number of factors, such as your weight, training style and the size of your kettle bell.

According to the American Council on Exercise, the average person following a standard kettle bell training program will burn approximately 20 calories per minute. Additionally, your growth hormone and testosterone levels will go up, which further increases your metabolic rate and energy expenditure.

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(Source: health.trythis.co)

All activities that keep the heart rate elevated and make you breathe hard for long periods of time. Strength based exercise involves developing the muscular system so you can jump higher, run faster, punch harder, lift heavier etc.

However, if you use a challenging weight and put together a selection of kettle bell exercises into a circuit then you will raise your heart rate and keep it elevated for a long period of time. A kettle bell circuit like the one above will not only build strength but also keep the heart rate elevated making it a cardio workout too.

Here’s a video showing how kettle bell exercises can flow keeping your heart rate elevated for great cardio : Kettle bell workouts are inherently strength based because you are lifting a weight that challenges the muscular system.

As most kettle bell exercises involve the use of hundreds of muscles at a time they require a great deal of energy produced by the heart and lungs. It is due to this fact that kettle bell training is becoming more and more popular as a tool for saving time while generating some great results.

In today’s world we spend the majority of our days doing things in front of us with terrible posture. Cubicles) for hours at a time not moving and making the front of our body even tighter.

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If You’re Not Doing The Kettle bell Swing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life! This overuse of the muscles on the front side of our bodies is called “anterior dominance” and it is plaguing our society.

FrequencyExercise TypeIntensityRepetitionsRest up to 7x per week strength training high intensity varies by workout varies by workout Once labelled “hard core”, kettle bells are now popping up in every gym, garage and backyard because of their portability and reputation for fast results. Go into any gym and you’ll see inexperienced exercisers turning a swing into a front squat and shoulder raise exercise further tightening our hips, quads, chest and shoulders and just adding to the anterior dominance issue that I told you about above.

Always making sure your shoulders stay above the level of your hips, “hike pass” the kettle bell through your knees by contracting your lats. When you push your hips back keeping your butt high and your shins vertical, you are hinging.

This is good because most people today are hip flexor and quad dominant (your anterior muscles), so learning how to load and use your posterior chain creates a natural balance between front and back that will help in preventing knee and hip issues. Imagine that you are growing roots through your feet and grab the ground with your entire foot.

Getting proper instruction from an expert so that you can MASTER THE KETTLEBELL SWING is the best thing that you can do for your training regardless of your goal. If you want to build strength, kettlebellswings will forge a grip of steel and will add pounds to your dead lift & squat.

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If you want to boost your athleticism, kettlebellswings will make you more powerful and add height to your jump and shave seconds off your sprints. If you want to pack on muscle, swinging a heavy kettle bell will build an intimidating upper back & set of shoulders.

And if you want to shed body fat, swings will incinerate blubber like butter melting in an iron pan. This article will discuss running and kettle bell swings as a means of weight loss for beginners which is the most common scenario.

Generally the question “Can kettle bell swings replace cardio has to be answered with no as there is a lack of context. Ask yourself the question if you want to kettle bell swing or do cardio as both of them are just a means to an end.

Kettle bell swings are often discussed as an alternative to the ever so dreaded running or jogging. Quantify them, break them down over months and have a look at how much time you are willing and able to invest to reach these goals.

After getting random nose bleeds from high blood pressure once to twice a week my wife said she would leave me if I did not do anything about my health and fat body. I wanted to stay strong while running and got two 14 kg kettle bells from my wife for my birthday in October 2013.

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(Source: www.india.com)

I and kettle bells parted ways from 2014 to 2017 when I picked them up again as a warm up to my Juggernaut method training. The most common context for beginners is that they are searching for the best way to keep fit with the least amount of hassle, money and time invested.

This leads to a bit of a belly and being out of breath when chasing the kids around the playground on the weekend. In addition, you might even want to look a bit more attractive for your spouse or potential partners you meet at social gatherings.

Kettle bells leave less room for excuses based on weather, not having the right gear or having to go to the gym. To ensure good form and execution read Simple and Sinister from Pavel Tsatsoulin and get yourself assessed by a Strong first certified professional.

On the other hand, if you are an outdoor person and like to socialize the better route for you to travel is to join a local running club. Based on my experience bringing someone who is not on your level, is your spouse or worse, both, will lead to unnecessary tension at home.

Others might want to cut some minutes and seconds of their established long distance times. In my personal case I found that strength training decreased my risk of injury when I ran.

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(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

If you eat 5 Mars bars a day, drink one bottle of Coca-Cola and smoke a packet of cigarettes and then go out for a walk around the block and pat yourself on the back you are misguided. Of course, getting out at all is better than doing nothing but with this kind of intake you have to work ten times harder to get results as someone who does not shoot himself/herself in the foot on a daily basis.

After a month of half the intake cut out one of the three (I recommend the cigarettes, my mother died of lung cancer aged 52. After another month cut out the next thing (I recommend replacing Coca-Cola with water).

I cut out all of my alcohol intakes in 2013 in preparation for the marathon after living in a bachelor pad where Guinness was always readily available from the fridge. No surprise, that this experience is not pleasant and you say “F*** this, can I do kettle bell swings instead or glue some electrodes to my body while I watch the Superbowl”.

Once reached continue running at a slower pace which lets you recover and repeat the process. Kettle bell swings are another method to lose unwanted pounds and stay fit.

As long as you do not want to build your resume as a marathon runner or triathlon competitor kettle bells can replace running and might even be the better overall exercise for weight loss for beginners with limited time. I think treadmills are as useless an invention as wireless cables (which have actually been sold on eBay...) or alcohol-free beer.

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If you want to dig deeper into why I think that for the target group who usually poses the question “Can kettle bell swings replace cardio it does not really matter which of the two is picked read the book the first twenty minutes. It provides good insight on why it matters that you do something for twenty minutes in terms of exercise (but not what) and that the return on investment quickly diminishes outside this window for average Joe's/Jane's.

The technical debate among professionals mainly circles around two studies which have been conducted in 2010 and 2013 lead by exercise scientist John Forward of the University of Wisconsin-La Cross. Here kettle bell swings were used with inexperienced subjects who gained in strength as well as cardiovascular capabilities which were unexpected.

Most online articles will reference one or both of these studies to support the cardiovascular benefits of kettle bell swings when compared to running. The general question “Can kettle bell swings replace cardio has to be answered with no as it is too broad.

As a personal trainer, my utmost and number one concern for my clients is their health and safety. This, of course, covers a huge range of factors, but the one we’re going to talk about today is power exercises.

However, I’m talking about either stringing two power exercises together with little to no breaks or completing one at high repetitions for a lengthy amount of time. And I do incorporate swings and box jumps into my workouts for power and short bursts of conditioning.

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However, they’re either paired with a non-power movement, or have ample rest breaks implemented into the drill. *if you don’t have at least 20 seconds rest before moving back to KB swings, decrease battling rope whips.

Finn recommends training with competition-style kettle bells (prices vary, available on amazon.com) like the ones featured here. For experienced kettle bell users, a good starting weight is whatever you would use for a single-hand swing, according to Finn.

“With ballistic movements such as snatches and cleans, it’s hard to think about the action while you’re doing it,” Finn says. How to use this list : Warm up by foam rolling and performing a few dynamic exercises (found here).

Or scroll to the bottom of the article to check out the Deep 6 workout Finn put together for us. For a cardio burn, perform as much reps as possible as fast as you can without compromising your form.

For a strength-focused workout, perform each exercise with the heaviest kettle bell you can manage without compromising form. At the top of the clean, your wrist should be rotated, so the palm faces in to midline of the body (point your thumb at your shoulder).

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(Source: www.shape.com)

Perform 10 to 20 reps and repeat on other side. Make it easier: Start with a lighter kettle bell to master the movement. Once you’ve perfected it, increase the weight. Make it harder: Add a second kettle bell and perform the clean with both arms at the same time.

Drive fist up and straighten elbow to press the weight overhead. As you do this, your wrist should rotate, so palm faces forward at the top of the move.

Keep chest lifted and lower to at least 90 degrees. Your back should stay straight through the entire movement. Keeping your back straight, hinge at hips and slightly bend knees to grab the kettle bell with both hands.

Engage your core, then bend at the waist to lower weight toward ankle. Check that back is straight and that you don’t lean to the left or backward as you perform this move.

Stand tall and engage core as you move the bell to the right, behind your head, and to the left in a circular motion. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettle bell by horns at chest height.

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Step right foot back and bend knees to 90 degrees to lower into a lunge. Perform 10 to 20 reps and repeat on left leg. Make it harder: Hold a kettle bell in each hand by your sides.

In one fluid motion, drive through your legs to swing the kettle bell up, flip grip (so palm is facing away and knuckles punch up), and press weight overhead. Start standing and hold the kettle bell by horns at chest height.

Extend right leg out in front of you, then sit hips back and bend left knee to lower down into a single-leg squat, keeping right foot off the floor. Perform 5 to 10 reps and repeat on other side. Make it easier: Make your range of motion smaller by sitting back onto a box or bench.

The Turkish get up is a complicated move, so you want to be comfortable with the basic technique before adding the kettle bell. “The idea is that the arm holding the kettle bell is directly up in the air the entire time, because if it’s not directly over your head and your skeleton isn’t taking the weight, the shoulder is placed in a compromising position,” he says.

If you can get all the way up and back down without dropping the water bottle and losing alignment, you know you’re ready to try it with the kettle bell. Start lying face up. Bend right knee and place right foot on floor and left arm straight out to the side.

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Extend right arm directly over shoulder and balance a half-filled water bottle on top of fist. Lie face up with knees bent and two kettle bells racked at chest height.

Lie face up with knees bent, feet on floor, holding the kettle bell on hips. Start in a plank position, wrists under shoulders with each hand on a kettle bell, palms facing in, core engaged.

I recently got asked “Are kettlebellswings good for you?” so I thought I would answer the question here. So the kettle bell swing is very demanding on the cardiovascular system without the need to move your feet or impact your joints.

So another advantage of the kettle bell swing is the large amount of muscle recruitment you get from the exercise. As you drive the kettle bell up using the hips and legs you recruit a large amount of muscles in the back of the body.

The kettle bell swing is different because it strengthens the posterior chain, improving your upright posture which in turn pulls your shoulders back and reveals the chest. With a strong emphasis on desk jobs and computer work many people spend too much time seated.

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The kettle bell swing helps to combat this by strengthening the abs as you lock into the upright position. The abs work hard at the top to prevent the body from over extending backwards, similar to a vertical plank position.

During the swing the lower back should also be kept in a static (isometric) position so the movement can be generated by the hips. The kettle bell swing uses 100’s of muscles in one movement, is very cardiovascular without the need to move your feet, improves your posture and burns lots of calories.

If you experience pain when you lean forward or bend backwards then the kettle bell swing is not for you. Recently, a number of athletes on the forum stated that kettlebellswings aren't cardio training.

That’s the versatility of the kettle bell : light, long sets with brief rest periods can mimic tempo runs that get the blood pumping for an extended period of time. Or an AGT protocol allows one to go heavy, stay fresh, and get strong.

Personal opinion incoming: There is cardio “, and other activities that have great cardiovascular benefit. This includes KB ballistics, 15-20 minute dynamic warm ups, circuits, complexes.... the list goes on.

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Hell, raking grass for 25 minutes is going to have cardiovascular benefit. Society has decided that cardio refers exclusively to long duration, low intensity, etc.

The ACM Definition of Cardiovascular Exercise “Any sport or activity that works large groups of muscles, is continually maintained and performed rhythmically, is defined as an aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise by the American College of Sports Medicine.” Therefore, many definitions look for steady state activity that raises the heart rate such as walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, skiing, rowing... etc.

When doing Group III activities, your cardiovascular benefit will depend on how hard you work and how well you perform in these sports. For example, if you play tennis, when you practice more and improve your skills, you'll swing more at the ball with greater intensity.

If you're not really in area of concern medically, and I'm guessing you're not, then it's a matter of whether your training supports your life. If you feel like you're gassing out in your judo practice, you might want to build your aerobic base.

My gut feeling is, your training is keeping you in good shape and well-rounded in both strength and conditioning, and that includes heart health. When doing Group III activities, your cardiovascular benefit will depend on how hard you work and how well you perform in these sports.

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For example, if you play tennis, when you practice more and improve your skills, you'll swing more at the ball with greater intensity. If someone had a lot of health issues as mentioned above they might not want to rely upon this entirely, but that's best discussed with their doctor.

If you feel like you're gassing out in your judo practice, you might want to build your aerobic base. My gut feeling is, your training is keeping you in good shape and well-rounded in both strength and conditioning, and that includes heart health.

The average Joe (who is a couch potato) thinks that cardio is just levels I and II cardio and forgets about level III. Indeed, no family history of heart problems. My dad used to do human flags, pistols and chin ups back in the proverbial day, and he still lifts weights daily at the gym and is very strong for his age of 76.

Level 6 Valued Member Team Leader Certified Instructor Cardio and aerobic training are NOT the same, although many people mistakenly use them interchangeably.

We all know that kettle bell training can be used to benefit the aerobic system, so there is no question there. Producing training adaptations for the heart (cardiac muscle) directly is not interchangeable with adaptations to the aerobic system. For example, the most common protocol to increase the size of the left ventricle of the heart is 30-90 minutes of light continuous activity with the heart rate typically 120-150 BPM; this is commonly known as the “cardiac output method” of training.

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If the heart is beating too fast then it doesn't have time to fill the ventricle sufficiently. Likewise, if there is too much resistance in the muscles, then the correlated vasoconstriction can result in reduced the blood flow back into the heart, again reducing the amount of stretch the ventricle gets.

This is why for the cardiac output method you typically need activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. From that perspective... the 10 minutes (give or take) of swings in SAS do not constitute cardio when viewed through my lens.

It may all come down to semantics, definitions, individual perspectives, and training purposes. Cardio and aerobic training are NOT the same, although many people mistakenly use them interchangeably.

Producing training adaptations for the heart (cardiac muscle) directly is not interchangeable with adaptations to the aerobic system. For example, the most common protocol to increase the size of the left ventricle of the heart is 30-90 minutes of light continuous activity with the heart rate typically 120-150 BPM; this is commonly known as the “cardiac output method” of training. If the heart is beating too fast then it doesn't have time to fill the ventricle sufficiently.

Likewise, if there is too much resistance in the muscles, then the correlated vasoconstriction can result in reduced the blood flow back into the heart, again reducing the amount of stretch the ventricle gets. This is why for the cardiac output method you typically need activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.

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It may all come down to semantics, definitions, individual perspectives, and training purposes. @offwidth Agreed! I really like characterizing training based on the predominant energy system used (galactic, glycolysis, aerobic).

That way when someone asks you if kettle bells swing are cardio or power or strength endurance... you say “Yes.” I find when I'm getting in the weeds too deep, I just need to focus on doing the work and listen to my body.

You will get more full body results in less time from the kettle bell swing than any other exercise! If you are new to Kettle bell Training then you should focus all your time and effort on the Swing.

Perform 20 Double Handed Swings and then 10 Push Ups. At the end of the workout you will have completed 200 Swings and 55 Push Ups.

A super simple kettle bell swing only workout and great for beginners. Perform 20 double handed swings at the beginning of every minute.

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The time left over after your 20 kettlebellswings until the start of the next minute is for rest. Alternating between Swings and Burpees will really elevate your heart rate.

This workout will seriously burn some calories as well as strengthening the complete lower body. A KB swing workout using the 2 most important kettle bell exercises.

Repeat the circuit adding an extra Turkish Get Up each round. The kettle bell swing works predominantly the muscles of the posterior chain which includes, the hips, glutes, hamstrings, back, lats, abs, shoulders, and forearms.

Perform 10 double handed swings at the beginning of every minute. The time left over after your 10 kettlebellswings until the start of the next minute is for rest.

1 This is important because for those with lower back issues traditional posterior chain exercises such as dead lifts, good mornings, etc. For those looking to strengthen the lower back and unable to use these traditional exercises the swing may be just the thing they’re looking for.

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This results in a muscle flushing that McGill wrote about, quoting Jay’s 2010 research: The rapid acceleration of the bell via the motion of the hips and knees is accompanied by substantial activation of muscles in both the posterior chain and the abdominal.

They proposed the muscle flushing mechanism as an explanation for the reports of lower pain. Now, sniff air into your belly through your nose and then exhale short and sharp like you’re trying to blow out a candle far away.

But when you use forceful exhalation, known in ROC circles as power breathing, you are essentially creating a stiff wall around that flagpole to keep it stiffer. Using the Cassava maneuver creates a dynamic internal pressure that I believe supercharges the cerebral-spinal fluid flow.

The INTERCAL pressure is greatly increased when you add movement to the Cassava maneuver. Cerebral-spinal fluid is pumped or controlled by respiration that causes movement in the sacrum and cranial bones.

I believe that the spinal curves must be correctly maintained or the flow of information in the nervous system is compromised. In order to do the Kettle bell swing correctly I really had to work on my form and this had an incredible influence on establishing the proper robotic and kyphotic curvatures of my spine.

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If we’re looking to the swing to be our one size fits all solution to back care then we must recognize that, for many, swinging the bell overhead is impossible without hyper extending the lower back or jamming the neck or shoulders due to limitations in their thoracic mobility. The swing is an expression of forward force projection such as found in boxing or martial arts, like a straight punch.

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Sources
1 www.nbcnews.com - https://www.nbcnews.com/shopping/fitness/best-kettlebells-n1246049
2 heavy.com - https://heavy.com/sports/2020/02/best-kettlebells/
3 fitterliving.com - https://fitterliving.com/best-adjustable-kettlebells/