Is kettlebell training cardio or strength? The short answer is no, but you should read this article to fully understand why it’s not.
- What is Cardio?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 3 Top Kettlebell Cardio Exercises
- Kettlebell Workouts
- Got Questions?
“Is kettlebell cardio? If so, can I do kettlebell with my other cardio, or am I not giving my muscles enough time to rest? I’m doing a push-pull and legs on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I’ll be doing cardio including kettlebell and core. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!”Reddit User
A kettlebell is a weight, and that weight provides resistance, a kettlebell is for resistance training.
The kettlebell is a tool. A tool that provides a benefit, that benefit depends on how you program it. The programming involves weight selection, number of reps, number of rounds, pace, exercise, rest, etc.
So, a kettlebell is not inherently cardio, i.e. it is not only cardio by default. The kettlebell provides whatever you want from it if you do it right. The kettlebell can be cardio, strength, power, endurance, flexibility, and more.
As for whether you can combine it with your other cardio or whether your body gets enough rest, that will depend on how intense you train, with what weight, the exercises, the reps, and how conditioned you are. Your body will tell you whether it is too much and all you need to do is listen to it.
Every exercise is cardio. Depending on the weight of the KB, speed and duration of the activity will determine if it is aerobic, anaerobic, or alactic activity.Trent Ryan
Any kettlebell exercise can be cardio but is not by default cardio or only cardio.
What is Cardio?
Cardio is shorthand for cardiovascular and any activity that gets you breathing a little harder and increases your heart rate is cardio. Even lifting heavy weights for strength at a fast pace that keeps your heart rate up for a while is a form of cardio training that provides cardiovascular benefits.
Cardio is also known as aerobic or endurance exercise. Aerobic is less intense than anaerobic, the latter is intense, fast-paced, and can’t be maintained for a long time, whereas aerobic can be, i.e. jogging, cycling, swimming, kettlebell long cycle, etc.
Is kettlebell cardio? A good example of a kettlebell workout that provides strength and cardio benefits is OMINOUS by Cavemantraining. Double kettlebell clean, press, squat, and row for AMRAP (As Many Rounds As possible) for 4 cycles of 4 minutes each. I have completed this workout, my personal best was 12 rounds per cycle with 2 × 24kg and my heart rate reached 176 BPM at 50 years of age that’s the highest recorded BPM for me. This is not a pure strength workout, but due to the weight I obviously get that strength component from the workout, and due to the pace (reps per cycle) I also reach a heart rate zone (red zone) that provides cardiovascular benefits.
If I performed the same workout with lighter weights, let’s say 2 × 12kg then the benefits would be cardiovascular endurance. The pace at which I’d work would determine whether it would be aerobic or anaerobic. In simple terms, if I worked at a pace where I could talk it would be aerobic, and if I worked so hard that I could not and also would not be able to maintain the pace without stopping for a longer period of time then it would be anaerobic.
Is kettlebell cardio? The workout PAIN by Cavemantraining, which is HIIT, an EMOM of 12 minutes of double kettlebell dead clean 3 times (@ 2 × 16kg), 3 dead snatches (@ 1 × 24kg) on each side, and followed up with 3 CrossFit burpees each minute. That work could not be maintained continuously for more than a minute or two. This is why it’s programmed as an interval which is work followed by rest and repeat.
Is kettlebell cardio? The workout PAIN is anaerobic, the workout OMINOUS is in between but leaning more toward anaerobic, and the workout NEFARIOUS is aerobic. This last workout is 15 minutes of unbroken clean and jerk and 15 minutes of unbroken full snatch with one kettlebell Because this workout only allows one switch it’s also a muscular endurance workout.
Is kettlebell cardio? It’s a combination of exercise, pace, and weight, that makes it aerobic or anaerobic. For example, take the same workout NEFARIOUS and increase the pace and weight which will considerably increase the work the body needs to do, hence, the cardiovascular system needs to deliver more oxygen to the muscles, the heart rate will be faster, the breathing will become faster, etc. and all that can turn it into an anaerobic workout.
Is kettlebell cardio? A pure strength workout is BEAST, which is a workout focused on low reps, heavy weight nearing your 1RM, with plenty of rest, and targeting different body parts. This workout together with OMINOUS is part of a 6-week program that can be found here.
3 Top Kettlebell Cardio Exercises
3 very popular kettlebell exercises often used for cardio benefits are:
- Kettlebell swing
- Kettlebell snatch
- Kettlebell clean
That does not mean they can’t be programmed for strength. Power equals speed and strength, i.e. lifting heavy weights fast for low reps.
If you’re interested in kettlebell for aerobic cardio then I can highly recommend you learn how to clean and jerk. Once you learn about the grip transition, racking, and other important things you’ll be able to do away with high-impact cardio and replace it with low-impact kettlebell cardio.
Are kettlebells enough for cardio?
Yes, they are without a doubt enough for your cardio workouts. They are just as good as cycling and swimming for cardio and better than high-impact cardio like running.
Can kettlebells replace cardio?
Yes, the kettlebell can easily replace boring treadmill cardio with highly effective and fun exercises. As mentioned already, clean and jerk is perfect for this, but there is so much more like the kettlebell snatch, kettlebell swing, and so on.
Are kettlebell swings cardio or weight training?
Kettlebell swings are performed with a weight, that weight is the kettlebell, and the kettlebell is also a free weight. Kettlebell swings can be used for cardio, power, and strength depending on how you program them. See the explanation about adjusting programming in the article above.
Is kettlebell cardio better than running?
Yes, if we look at the impact that running can have on the ankles, knees, etc. then from a point of less impact on the body, the kettlebell is better when used correctly.
Can I get fit with just a kettlebell?
Yes, you can get super fit with just a kettlebell. But you can also get super fit with no kettlebell. It comes down to preference, some people feel more confident holding on to something and moving it rather than bodyweight exercises alone, but they’re both just as good and both have their additional benefits.
Is kettlebell cardio?
The answer to this question is provided in detail above. No, the kettlebell is not inherently cardio, meaning that by default it is cardio, it is not. The kettlebell provides whatever the programming dictates.
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