While they seem like just another fitness trend, kettlebells have been around for decades, gaining relatively recent popularity through exercise programs like CrossFit. These cast iron balls, which weigh anywhere from two to one hundred pounds, are widely used for weight training, but they can also be used in cardio workouts as well.
Kettlebells offer a full-body workout, as lifting and controlling these bowling ball-sized orbs forces you to engage all of the muscles in your body (especially your core). The simultaneous contraction of your muscles builds both strength and stability. However, kettlebells not only build muscle strength, they are also an excellent option for building cardiovascular endurance. Some basic kettlebell exercises include swings, cleans, snatches, deadlifts, military presses and side presses.
For a great cardio workout, swings are one of the best options. This basic movement is simple enough for beginners, but still challenging enough for experienced athletes. Using a light kettlebell first, perform the swing as follows:
- Stand with your legs shoulder width apart.
- With your head facing forward, slightly lean forward at the waist and bend your knees until you are in a semi-squat.
- Allow your arms to hang loosely while you raise the ball with both hands over your head and inhale.
- With both hands still on the ball, swing the weight in between your legs towards the back of you and exhale. Focus on using the hips, thighs and lower back muscles.
Ensure you give a forceful hip snap on every repetition.
No matter the particular movement, exercising with kettlebells is sure to provide both cardio and strength workouts that ensure results.
Benefits of Using Kettlebells in Cardio Workouts
Many athletes and fitness experts agree that kettlebells are the perfect alternative to other aerobic workouts, like running. While performing a swing, there is no resting point, forcing you to exert aerobic energy. Surprisingly, kettlebells are very safe for joints. All of your major joints (knee, hips, ankles, shoulders) are engaged safely with proper form, which is easy to attain with the swing.
Also, for many of us, back pain is a common daily complaint. With the swing, you are forced to use your back muscles, which strengthens them over time.
It isn’t only your back muscles that contribute to the state of your overall posture. Your legs and core are also vital components to holding your body upright. These muscles also demand more oxygen than any other group during exercise. The movements that are fundamental in kettlebell training are ideal for building these muscles.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of kettlebell workouts is that it appeals to fitness enthusiasts of all levels. It often seems that gym classes and other popular workout programs (like karate, dance, etc.) require some sort of experience. Kettlebell training offers programs for every fitness level, age group, and for both men and women.
If you’re simply bored with the daily gym grind and are searching for an alternative, or you’re new to fitness and want great results fast, let kettlebell training be the answer!