kettlebell swings

Swap Boring Cardio for Kettlebell Swings

)The kettlebell swing is one of the most popular circuit training exercises, and it is by far the most well-known kettlebell exercise. But should you swap boring cardio for kettlebell swings? This article will help you to decide for yourself.

Kettlebell swings are an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. They are easy to master, can be performed anywhere, and there are a number of variations to keep you entertained. You can use them for aerobic and anaerobic training. However, for certain sports, it may be better to use cardio exercises that recreate the actual movements required. 

In this article, we will take a look at what kettlebell swings are, how to perform them, and why they provide such excellent cardio workouts. We will also look at some kettlebell swing variations that you can use to provide some alternatives to your workouts.

Can Kettlebell Swings Be Used for Cardio?

The first thing that needs to be clarified is that any exercise is cardiovascular. The definition of cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that increases the heart rate and speeds up your respiration. While running and cycling are classic examples of cardiovascular exercise, the same label could apply to bicep curls, Olympic lifts, and even exercises such as pilates or walking.

While the above is all technically true, there is certainly a group of exercises that people think of when they say they are going to perform a cardio workout. Running, swimming, hiking, step aerobics, cycling, and using cardio machines.

So, the question is, can they be used instead of traditional cardio exercises to achieve similar results? And the answer is yes.

Kettlebell exercises such as the kettlebell snatch have been repeatedly shown to improve cardiovascular fitness [1][2]. A 2019 study found that kettlebells were ideal for improving both aerobic fitness and muscle strength [3].

A study by Ace Fitness found that eight weeks of kettlebell training led to increases in strength, balance, and aerobic capacity [4]. The study also found that kettlebells were incredibly effective at improving core strength.

Bottom Line: Kettlebells are a fantastic tool for improving your cardiovascular fitness, and many different kettlebell exercises can be used; the kettlebell swing, snatch, and clean, for example. 

How to Perform a Kettlebell Swing

Now that we know that you can use kettlebell swings to improve your cardiovascular fitness, it’s a good idea to have a quick breakdown of how to perform a kettlebell swing correctly:

  1. Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell in both hands so that the handle is at waist height.
  2. Push your chest out and, pull your shoulders back, bend your knees slightly. This is your starting position.
  3. Pull your hips backwards and start to swing the kettlebell backwards as you do so.
  4. Snap your hips forwards, and use this to create momentum so that you swing the kettlebell forwards.
  5. Pause when the kettlebell is parallel to the ground, and your hips are pushed as far forward as you can (squeezing your glutes).
  6. Pull your hips backwards again and swing the kettlebell backwards as you do so.

Kettlebell Swing Variations

There are a few variations. While they can inject some fun and variety into your workouts, they don’t offer any particular benefits compared to the traditional kettlebell swing. Add them in if you are looking to mix things up, but you can get all the benefits you need from your regular swings.

Single-Handed Kettlebell Swing

This variation of the kettlebell swing is pretty self-explanatory. Instead of gripping the kettlebell in both hands, you hold it with one hand. Perform the correct number of reps and then swap hands. Use a smaller kettlebell than you would normally, and use your spare hand as a counterbalance. Hold it out to the side to prevent you from leaning over.

Alternating Hand Kettlebell Swing

This is a slightly more complicated version of the single-handed exercise (above). You start off in the exact same way, with one hand swinging the kettlebell up and down. The difference here is that when the kettlebell reaches the bottom of the swing (between your legs), you very quickly swap hands on the kettlebell and then swing with the other hand.

This exercise requires perfect timing, and it can be quite difficult to get right at first. Don’t attempt it until you are very capable at single-handed kettlebell swings. Some people make this even more difficult by swinging the kettlebell up in the air, letting go, and then catching it with the opposite hand.

I have personally attempted this and managed to drop the kettlebell, which did not endear me to the fitness staff at my local gym. My advice? This variation is best left alone.

Which Kettlebell Should You Use for Swinging?

One mistake that many people make is looking for a cheap, plastic kettlebell. Please avoid these at all costs! Not only is the weight distribution terrible, but they are often much bulkier and a bad shape for swinging.

They can also get damaged quite easily, and they look absolutely awful! Instead, grab yourself a proper cast-iron kettlebell from Amazon. Not only will it last you a lifetime, but it is also perfect for swinging, with excellent weight distribution and small size (due to its density).

There are better kettlebells out there, but most are much more expensive, and the difference is minimal. Provided your kettlebell is cast-iron, you can expect excellent results. The Amazon kettlebell has a nice grip, and the handle is just about right.

Final Thoughts

The kettlebell swing is an excellent form of cardio, and it can fit seamlessly into your workout. You can use them as a decent warm-up before performing some deadlifts, or you can use them as part of a circuit. They also work excellently when supersetted against another exercise.

Just ensure that you have the right weight for you and that your form is perfect. If you are using a gym, then don’t be afraid to ask the staff to help you, or you can use the description in this article and a YouTube video for reference.






About the Author Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the owner of Beer N Biceps. He has a degree in Sports Science, 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry, and has written for hundreds of fitness websites. He is a lover of good quality beer and believes that drinking in moderation can form part of a healthy lifestyle.

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