How are kettlebell swings not Cardio???

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Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Recently, a number of athletes on the forum stated that kettlebell swings aren't cardio training. I really don't understand this.

What constitutes "cardio" and how is S&S not "cardio"? I thought it counted for cardio.
 

Sean M

Level 6 Valued Member
That’s the versatility of the kettlebell: light, long sets with brief rest periods can mimic tempo runs that get the blood pumping for an extended period of time. Or an AGT protocol allows one to go heavy, stay fresh, and get strong.

That said - when I think cardio, I think long steady distance - power walk, jog, bike, elliptical, etc.

So as with most things, “It depends” (y)
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Personal opinion incoming: There is "cardio", and other activities that have great cardiovascular benefit. I call these activities "non-traditional cardio". This includes KB ballistics, 15-20 minute dynamic warmups, circuits, complexes.... the list goes on. Hell, raking grass for 25 minutes is going to have cardiovascular benefit.

Society has decided that "cardio" refers exclusively to long duration, low intensity, etc. but that does not mean other activities are not beneficial.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
What constitutes "cardio" and how is S&S not "cardio"? I thought it counted for cardio.
The ACSM Definition of Cardiovascular Exercise

"Any sport or activity that works large groups of muscles, is continually maintained and performed rhythmically, is defined as an aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise by the American College of Sports Medicine."

Swings are usually not continually maintained for 20-30 minutes at a time. Therefore, many definitions look for steady state activity that raises the heart rate such as walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, skiing, rowing... etc.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Cardio vascular conditioning depends also on what muscles are being used, so I've noticed that running as "cardio" isn't going to save me in judo where my upper body needs to be cardio-conditioned too.

To me "cardio" means what is healthy for my heart. S&S I think is better than running, because it gets my whole body involved and gets my heart pumping very hard! This pumping keeps up for the entire 30-40 minutes I take to complete S&S.

My reason in asking the question is as to whether or not I still need to do "cardio" alongside the cardio of S&S, or is S&S is enough cardio. (Forget for an instant that I do judo here, which is of course "Cardio" if anything is!)
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
The ACSM Definition of Cardiovascular Exercise

"Any sport or activity that works large groups of muscles, is continually maintained and performed rhythmically, is defined as an aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise by the American College of Sports Medicine."

Swings are usually not continually maintained for 20-30 minutes at a time. Therefore, many definitions look for steady state activity that raises the heart rate such as walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, skiing, rowing... etc.
Okay. So, I should have been programming in regular walks and jogs alongside S&S for the years I did it and no judo alongside it. Okay, I see. Interestingly, I did tend to feel the need for walks and jogs, and I did them. So, maybe something inside me gave me the right instincts for it - like the hamsters choosing of their own volition to run on the hamster wheels: they know they need it.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Doesn't this resemble an S&S workout though? :

Group III
Sports and activities such as volleyball, basketball and tennis are classified as Group II exercises. When doing Group III activities, your cardiovascular benefit will depend on how hard you work and how well you perform in these sports. For example, if you play tennis, when you practice more and improve your skills, you'll swing more at the ball with greater intensity. As you become better at the sport and put more energy into it, you'll burn more calories.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
My reason in asking the question is as to whether or not I still need to do "cardio" alongside the cardio of S&S, or is S&S is enough cardio.
Here we get in the question of defining "need to" and "enough". If you are at risk for heart disease (family history, high triglycerides high blood pressure, etc... I'll stop now cause I'm already out of medical knowledge) then you'd want to make sure you're doing all you can.

If you're not really in area of concern medically, and I'm guessing you're not, then it's a matter of whether your training supports your life. If you feel like you're gassing out in your judo practice, you might want to build your aerobic base. But it doesn't sound like that's the case. My gut feeling is, your training is keeping you in good shape and well-rounded in both strength and conditioning, and that includes heart health.

oesn't this resemble an S&S workout though? :

Group III
Sports and activities such as volleyball, basketball and tennis are classified as Group II exercises. When doing Group III activities, your cardiovascular benefit will depend on how hard you work and how well you perform in these sports. For example, if you play tennis, when you practice more and improve your skills, you'll swing more at the ball with greater intensity. As you become better at the sport and put more energy into it, you'll burn more calories.
Yes, I think so. If someone had a lot of health issues as mentioned above they might not want to rely upon this entirely, but that's best discussed with their doctor.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Here we get in the question of defining "need to" and "enough". If you are at risk for heart disease (family history, high triglycerides high blood pressure, etc... I'll stop now cause I'm already out of medical knowledge) then you'd want to make sure you're doing all you can.

If you're not really in area of concern medically, and I'm guessing you're not, then it's a matter of whether your training supports your life. If you feel like you're gassing out in your judo practice, you might want to build your aerobic base. But it doesn't sound like that's the case. My gut feeling is, your training is keeping you in good shape and well-rounded in both strength and conditioning, and that includes heart health.



Yes, I think so. If someone had a lot of health issues as mentioned above they might not want to rely upon this entirely, but that's best discussed with their doctor.
This almost seems like a case where the general public is misinterpreting the science. This "level III" cardio training sure sounds a lot like an S&S session (or judo session) to me - if tennis is one of their examples, you certainly are not constantly moving during a tennis match - lots of start and stop. But, since you are working hard when you're working, your heart beats harder than normal the whole time. In other words, S&S is actually superior level III cardio. The average Joe (who is a couch potato) thinks that "cardio" is just levels I and II cardio and forgets about level III.

Indeed, no family history of heart problems. My dad used to do human flags, pistols and chinups back in the proverbial day, and he still lifts weights daily at the gym and is very strong for his age of 76. My mom works out too, and they do fitness classes also. No family problems, hehehe.
 

Tony Gracia

Level 6 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Cardio and aerobic training are NOT the same, although many people mistakenly use them interchangeably. We all know that kettlebell training can be used to benefit the aerobic system, so there is no question there. Producing training adaptations for the heart (cardiac muscle) directly is not interchangeable with adaptations to the aerobic system.

For example, the most common protocol to increase the size of the left ventricle of the heart is 30-90 minutes of light continuous activity with the heart rate typically 120-150 BPM; this is commonly known as the "cardiac output method" of training. Keep in mind that athletes competing in endurance events like marathons or long cycling events will need MUCH longer duration than that.

This protocol is generally understood to work best when used with activities of little-to-no resistance, meaning it is hard to make a kettlebell work well for this protocol. One of the reasons for this is that achieving the desired stretching of the left ventricle of the heart is dependent on having sufficient blood flow into the ventricle, or "end-diastolic volume." If the heart is beating too fast then it doesn't have time to fill the ventricle sufficiently. Likewise, if there is too much resistance in the muscles, then the correlated vasoconstriction can result in reduced the blood flow back into the heart, again reducing the amount of stretch the ventricle gets.

This is why for the cardiac output method you typically need activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. for the method to work. The good news for you @Kozushi as a judoka is that you can likely use uchikomi for this. If you did 30+ min of uchikomi at low-to-medium intensity levels that should be sufficient.
 
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offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Whoever stated this was either joking, or seriously confused!
I probably was one of the people who stated that. Not joking. And not confused; seriously or otherwise:)
But the statement was made in a certain context, and from a certain perspective. One of an endurance athlete whose events last hours or days. From that perspective... the 10 minutes (give or take) of swings in S&S do not constitute cardio when viewed through my lens.
Do swings and snatches and the like elicit a beneficial cardiac response. You bet they do, and that's partly why I do them. Are they the same cardio benefit one gets from a six hour training ride? No.

It may all come down to semantics, definitions, individual perspectives, and training purposes. But most of us probably agree that swings are pretty darn good for you...
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Cardio and aerobic training are NOT the same, although many people mistakenly use them interchangeably. We all know that kettlebell training can be used to benefit the aerobic system, so there is no question there. Producing training adaptations for the heart (cardiac muscle) directly is not interchangeable with adaptations to the aerobic system.

For example, the most common protocol to increase the size of the left ventricle of the heart is 30-90 minutes of light continuous activity with the heart rate typically 120-150 BPM; this is commonly known as the "cardiac output method" of training. Keep in mind that athletes competing in endurance events like marathons or long cycling events will need MUCH longer duration than that.

This protocol is generally understood to work best when used with activities of little-to-no resistance, meaning it is hard to make a kettlebell work well for this protocol. One of the reasons for this is that achieving the desired stretching of the left ventricle of the heart is dependent on having sufficient blood flow into the ventricle, or "end-diastolic volume." If the heart is beating too fast then it doesn't have time to fill the ventricle sufficiently. Likewise, if there is too much resistance in the muscles, then the correlated vasoconstriction can result in reduced the blood flow back into the heart, again reducing the amount of stretch the ventricle gets.

This is why for the cardiac output method you typically need activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. for the method to work. The good news for you @Kozushi as a judoka is that you can likely use uchikomi for this. If you did 30+ min of uchikomi at low-to-medium intensity levels that should be sufficient.
Good description. Thank you...
 

Shawn90

Level 5 Valued Member
swings in S & S develop power. i dont define swings in s and s as cardio. If it were cardio you would do tgu first before swings. and do more reps per set. Like 20 or 50.

I am confused.
 

Hasbro

Level 5 Valued Member
Then what category would tabata style training fit in? I always considered it cardio.

Typically sessions look something like this

Work: 20 seconds
Rest: 10 seconds
Heart rate: Reaching 100%
Total workout time: 4 minutes

Pretty close to S&S swings when trying to meet the standard.
 

Ryan T

Level 5 Valued Member
It may all come down to semantics, definitions, individual perspectives, and training purposes. But most of us probably agree that swings are pretty darn good for you...
@offwidth Agreed!

I really like characterising training based on the predominant energy system used (alactic, glycolytic, aerobic). That way when someone asks you if kettlebells swing are cardio or power or strength endurance... you say "Yes."

I find when I'm getting in the weeds too deep, I just need to focus on doing the work and listen to my body. :)

Cheers!
 
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