Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Tony Rovere of Weight Loss Tips After 40. The views in the article are those of the author.
Let’s face facts…most cardio exercises are boring. Why? Because they are repetitious, requiring us to either run, walk, step or row on a machine over and over. Even if I do these exercises outside and have the advantage of seeing different scenery, the boredom does eventually become a factor.
So I went searching for a new type of cardio exercise that would be different. I didn’t want to do it every day, but a few times a week to break up the monotony of some of my other workouts. I was hoping to find an exercise that…
- I could do at home (if you can save money off of a gym membership and turn your living room into your gym that is a best-case scenario)
- Required either no equipment or a small investment in equipment
- Would give me both muscle building and cardiovascular benefits at the same time
- Could be done as high-intensity intervals (HIIT training is the best way to burn fat because of what it allows your body to do AFTER the workout. The intervals charge your metabolism and cause you to burn more calories after your workout.
And surprisingly, finding such an exercise wasn’t as difficult as I thought. That exercise is kettlebell swings.
Kettlebell Cardio Training
Here is the premise. A kettlebell looks just like a cannon ball with a handle attached to it and can be used for an assortment of exercises that serve to not only add muscle but also burn fat and build dynamic power.
The Kettlebell Swing
The exercise I am going to go over is the classic kettlebell exercise, the kettlebell swing, and how you can integrate it into a home-based kettlebell program. You can do this exercise with either one arm holding the kettlebell or two, whichever you are most comfortable with. I would recommend that you start with two and then build up to one.
But what you will do is straddle the kettlebell on the floor, with the kettlebell directly below. Squat down slightly to pick up the kettlebell, and while keeping good form with your lower back to avoid injury, pick up the kettlebell and bring it back between your knees into the “prime” position.
Then, thrust forward with your hips keeping your arms straight until your arms are parallel to the ground at shoulder height. Then repeat the movement, returning the kettlebell to the prime position to begin your next swing.
When I first did this, I will admit that it bothered my lower back (so start out with a light weight and slowly build your strength up) but my body quickly adapted to the kettlebell swings and now I do them regularly.
Best Way To Do Kettlebells
I personally think that kettlebells are the perfect high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise. HIIT training has been shown to be a far more effective form of fat burning than steady state cardio.
The way that I do this is simple. I use a 20-lb kettlebell (I bought a light one for safety reasons) and will do 20 single arm kettlebell swings with the right arm and then 20 with the left arm. I give myself 30 seconds to rest, and then I do another 20 swings for each arm. I keep that up for about 15 sets until I am officially wiped out. But when I am done it feels wonderful.
Incorporating Kettlebell Swings Into Your Routine
Obviously you won’t be doing them every day, but I make it a habit to do my kettlebell swings about every third day, giving myself 2 days to rest between workouts. And the best part for busy people is that this type of workout only takes about 15-20 minutes to do, so it’s not like you can’t find the time to do this.