Cardiovascular exercise, otherwise known as punishment for that hamburger you ate last night, is often thought of as slogging on the treadmill while watching episodes of The Price is Right. Sounds like a blast right?
Now that strange looking black cannonball thing with a handle at your gym could make your cardio tolerable. Also it will give you a great looking backside, help bullet proof your low back and save you a ton of time.
All this and more could be yours when you pick up the kettlebell.
Kettlebells were originally used in Russia in the 1800’s as a weight to measure grains and other goods. However, Russian vendors started swinging and lifting these kettlebells to show their strength and quickly recognized the health benefits. Maybe the Russians realized they didn’t have to torture themselves with jogging in the cold.
You’ll find them in most gyms, all alone in the corner, unloved, and begging for you to use it. Once you pick up the Kettlebell swing you’ll leave the treadmill behind and cardio might just become fun again.
TWO-HANDED KETTELBELL SWING
The swing is a full body exercise that will help improve your power, strength, fat loss and the way you look in your favorite pair of pants. Ladies, a good starting weight is between 20- 30 pounds and gents, your starting weight will be 35 pounds.
Note- The swing is a hip hinge exercise. Only attempt the swing if you’ve mastered the basics of deadlifting and deadlifting variations like this.
Have the kettlebell in front of you so it forms a triangle with your feet (which are hip width a part). Reach down for the bell by pushing your hips back. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back and “hike” the kettle bell between your legs, and then use your hips to propel the bell forward.
This is how you start. Watch this video for a full demonstration of the swing.
On the down swing the wrists must “smack” the inner thighs. On the upswing squeeze your quads hard and take a sharp breath out. Tell yourself to “squeeze and breathe” as your hips go forward.
HOW TO USE THE SWING IN YOUR TRAINING
Once you feel comfortable with kettlebell swing, there are many ways you can insert this into your training.
Here are a few examples.
1. Kettlebell Tabatas
Tabata training, founded by Professor Izumi Tabata, consists of six-eight sets of 20 second exercise sets with 10 second rests between intervals. Doing this with a kettlebell will set your lungs and glutes on fire.
After a warm up perform 20 seconds of swings with 10 seconds of rest for six-eight rounds. You can either set the bell down during the rest period or keep a hold on it for an extra grip challenge.
2. RKC Plank/Swing Combo
Holding a full tension plank after heavy kettlebell swings is a challenge you’re sure to enjoy, and it’s also a great way to add in some extra core work. After all, who doesn’t love planks?
Do 20 Russian Style kettlebell swings (as demonstrated in the video) and then immediately get into an RKC Front plank. Once you have hit full tension take 10 deep inhales (and exhales) while maintaining full tension. Repeat the kettlebell-plank sequence for five-ten rounds.
3. Kettlebell Swings/Medicine Ball Slams
This will get your heart racing because the heart is working double time pushing blood from the lower to the upper body and back again. It will help to channel your inner Hulk smash on the slams.
You’ll be having so much fun you’ll be wondering if you’re doing cardio at all.
Do this as a countdown superset. Do 20 reps each of the swings and the slams and go down by two each time you perform a round until you reach two reps for each exercise (for example 20-18-16-14….2). If you don’t have access to medicine balls, substitute in battle rope slams.
4. Swing/ Pushup Combo
The swing in combination with getting up and down from the ground is great for fat loss and for building strength in your hips and chest simultaneously. If you’re having trouble with traditional pushups, try incline pushups instead.
Do kettlebell swings for 20 seconds and then immediately do six pushups followed by a rest for 30 seconds. Start off with five rounds (following this sequence) and add one round a week until you get to 15 minutes of total work.
Kettlebell swings save your joints from the constant pounding of the treadmill and the rat in the cage mentality of other cardio modalities. Pairing the swings with bodyweight and ball or battle rope exercises will shred fat and have you dreading cardio a little less.