Kettlebell Cardio & Endurance

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
So when I started with kettlebells I had no idea about anything. It was just some kind of interesting weight, so I started following S&S, a popular new program. I think if I had known more about fitness at the time I would have gone straight to barbell work, since my goal was to get very strong in terms of maximum strength. Over time I figured out that maybe the kettlebell wasn't the best choice for this, but then I also realized that, perhaps, the non-maximum strength training of the kettlebell is very good for its own reasons - strength-endurance and cardio vascular power and conditioning! So, maybe it was actually fortuitous that I had started my weight lifting career with the kettlebell, I thought, and this is where I am now with it, while certainly having added in deadlifts and presses.

In any case, what I'm gathering from reading the posts on the forum is that there are two kinds of cardio training and both are important: short high-intensity training (HIIT?), and long easy distance(LED or LSD?). So, kettlebells satisfy the first kind as short bursts, and walking or jogging for a long time satisfies the second type of long easy distance. The differences between them include things like the LED trains the left ventricle of the heart but the intense stuff the right, and that the LED builds up the "endurance tank" so that you can recover faster from high intensity training. This is all a revelation because I used to lump "cardio" in my mind all together - it was simply anything that made my heart pump hard, and the harder the better. Apparently, this is just one kind of it - the LED type is the other kind and it should happen too for optimal "cardio" health.

I'd wonder also if it matters what muscles in the body are triggering the cardio responses, or if any muscles will do. I.e., does it matter if it's always only the legs that are triggering "cardio" training - so walking or running? Or, is it important to ensure that the upper body is also triggering cardio training, so things like swings or swimming or something like that which engages the upper body and elicits a "cardio" response.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
As I understand it is a systemic adaptive response. However specificity says if you need endurance for a given upper body movement that would be different from running endurance to some extent. Mostly having to do with mitochondrial adaptations in the target muscles and not just related to stroke volume etc.

The systemic adaptive responses cannot be 100% correlated with the specific muscular adaptive response to a given exercise.

As the "other thread" illustrated, there is no real agreement re HIIT and LSD, but from reading the literature both methods seem to elicit very similar responses in mitochondial density. HIIT actually having a stronger scientific argument as not all LSD seem to produce the same response, whereas many HIIT protocols seem to generate a measurable positive response.

The only real difference is that HIIT will qualitatively improve mitochondrial efficiency for alactic glycolysis, and LSD will only do so quantitatively. Both improve aerobic capacity.

But...even if HIIT or LSD performed on a bicycle will improve VO2 max and mitochondrial density it doesn't follow either alone will make you a better distance runner anymore than they will allow you to throw an uninterrupted string of jabs at a heavybag for a full round. For that you have to run and jab.

@ Kozushi,
Interesting question, looking forward to more responses.
 

NoahMarek

More than 500 posts
@Kozushi Rather than referencing specific cardiac adaptations, I think an easier way of thinking about it is in terms of energy systems trained. You are referring to anaerobic training (HIIT) and aerobic training (LED). It is of corse a spectrum, but maybe this will help clear things up.

Additionally, SAID principle applies to endurance events. So just because you can hike for 4 hours no problem doesn’t mean you won’t fatigue prematurely when sparring for multiple bouts in your chosen martial art.
 

kenaces

Triple-Digit Post Count
I just wanted to add the there are a whole list of adaptions to CV training, not just changes to the heart.

I am curious to hear more from some the wizards on this forum about this topic.

I am currently doing 033 2 days a week, some TGU and pressing, and easy walking(most days)/easy bike ride(1-2 days week). Is this enough?

I am also wondering if I would benefit from a little HIIT work in addition to this? Does one day a week of HIIT interfere with building a strong aerobic base? I think this is Maffetone's position - does strong endurance agree?
 

vegpedlr

More than 500 posts
I'm glad to see that the hype surrounding HIIT as "superior" has faded and that its strengths and limitations are acknowledged. I think the potential for injury and overtraining have been under appreciated. Likewise, its benefits have been exaggerated by too many folks who really hate running. One of the problems is that the studies done have been of short duration. Not many people can keep benefitting long term. Also, I think that many people fall short on intensity, thinking they're doing it right, but aren't really going hard enough.

I believe that for general health and fitness, low intensity aerobic training is better for nearly everyone. I don't think anyone has any need to do any kind of interval training unless they have a specific performance goal. Even then, it must be carefully programmed and periodized to avoid burnout. Well, unless you just happen to love intensity and tolerate it well.

There is a good discussion of this in the Tactical Barbell Conditioning book. The author was a firm believer in the superiority of HIIT over steady state aerobic training, but had to change his position based on performance outcomes.

To really see the other side, read Maffetone, as he takes it to an extreme.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
Is this enough?
You know this is going to beg the question... enough for what?:)
Seriously though it really does depend on what you are training for. For someone with endurance goals this would be woefully short. You say 'easy'. It depends also on HR zone and duration.

Does one day a week of HIIT interfere with building a strong aerobic base?
I think that in a highly conditioned individual that it will not. Although the smart money would be on periodization. Doing HIIT in cycles throughout a yearly training programme. So... maybe 2 or 3 cycles a year depending upon what you might be training for.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
You know this is going to beg the question... enough for what?:)
Seriously though it really does depend on what you are training for. For someone with endurance goals this would be woefully short. You say 'easy'. It depends also on HR zone and duration.


I think that in a highly conditioned individual that it will not. Although the smart money would be on periodization. Doing HIIT in cycles throughout a yearly training programme. So... maybe 2 or 3 cycles a year depending upon what you might be training for.
I'm talking about "optimal heart health" myself, although this is not necessarily what everyone is after here. However, I think it's pretty important, and if I'm after it I'd like to know what to do for it. I was under the impression last year that S&S alone was enough for this as it keeps my heart pumping hard for 30 minutes, but reading about the importance of Long Easy Distance training made it seem like this is needed too. Like someone wrote above, the LED stuff might be good enough for most people, but if I want to have a "very healthy heart" to the degree that I can achieve this with exercise, I suspect that the 10X10 kettlebell swings of S&S or HIIT training would be needed in addition to long walks or similar.
 

vegpedlr

More than 500 posts
I'm talking about "optimal heart health" myself, although this is not necessarily what everyone is after here. However, I think it's pretty important, and if I'm after it I'd like to know what to do for it. I was under the impression last year that S&S alone was enough for this as it keeps my heart pumping hard for 30 minutes, but reading about the importance of Long Easy Distance training made it seem like this is needed too. Like someone wrote above, the LED stuff might be good enough for most people, but if I want to have a "very healthy heart" to the degree that I can achieve this with exercise, I suspect that the 10X10 kettlebell swings of S&S or HIIT training would be needed in addition to long walks or similar.
I don't think any sort of HIIT is necessary for a "very healthy heart." All the health benefits can be gained with low intensity aerobic exercise and at a fairly low volume. Only with specific performance objectives does increased intensity or volume become necessary and that also comes with risk. On the flip, the general heart health benefits of anaerobic exercise have not been studied as much, but there is indication that there is more benefit than previously thought.
 

kenaces

Triple-Digit Post Count
You know this is going to beg the question... enough for what?:)
Seriously though it really does depend on what you are training for. For someone with endurance goals this would be woefully short. You say 'easy'. It depends also on HR zone and duration.


I think that in a highly conditioned individual that it will not. Although the smart money would be on periodization. Doing HIIT in cycles throughout a yearly training programme. So... maybe 2 or 3 cycles a year depending upon what you might be training for.
I guess I am asking in general and for me :)

I am training for general health/conditioning/strength with my current goal being losing the "last ten pounds"(of course most of this happens in the kitchen). The strong endurance 033 I am doing twice a week definitely has a CV training component but since I am only doing it twice a week I was wondering if it was enough? For now, I am not recovering from it fast enough to use it 3+ days per week. So do you guys/gals think 2 days/week of these A+A type intervals plus lots of walking is enough CV work?

In more general terms does HIIT work 1-2 days per week conflict with the strong endurance methodology?
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
I guess I am asking in general and for me :)

I am training for general health/conditioning/strength with my current goal being losing the "last ten pounds"(of course most of this happens in the kitchen). The strong endurance 033 I am doing twice a week definitely has a CV training component but since I am only doing it twice a week I was wondering if it was enough? For now, I am not recovering from it fast enough to use it 3+ days per week. So do you guys/gals think 2 days/week of these A+A type intervals plus lots of walking is enough CV work?

In more general terms does HIIT work 1-2 days per week conflict with the strong endurance methodology?
From most of what I've read both research and annecdotally the answer is no.
I put this in similar context to higher intensity muscular endurance- both adaptations tend to fade rspidly with detraining, so decisions have to be made relative to available training time. Yes there is potential to overtrain using HIIT, but that's because people don't read the literature. 20 minutes or so per week does a good job.
Again, this is a contentious topic, but you could just as easily claim no need to for LSD work unless you have a competitive reason to run or bike better. Both strategies improve CV health and aerobic metabolism and mitochondrial health well enough for most. It depends on your goals. As mentioned-LSD does not improve alactic glycolysis qualitatively, if higher intensity endurance is part of your goal along with just improving your aerobic endurance it makes sense to train higher intensity occasionally.
 

Nate

Triple-Digit Post Count
When looking at overall health, i like remembering the othet benefits that come with kettlebells. I could run, do face pulls, a variety of core work, shoulder stabilization, unilateral leg work, etc. Or do S&S. Specific results may require specific stimulus, but I'm still impressed how many birds you can kill with one kettlebell.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
Another under appreciated benefit of low intensity aerobic training is its value for recovery, both in between hard efforts within a session, and between sessions themselves. Generally better than IPAs on the couch. But not always.
It's synergistic, tho I have it on good authority that a lager has slightly better effect than an ale due to LSD fermentation. :D
 

RLow04

Double-Digit Post Count
Ironically StrongFirst turned me on to LED/MAF and now I’m training for a marathon, something I swore I wouldn’t do only a few months ago. I’ve averaged about 25 mi/wk for the last month and I’m going to try and break 40mi this next week.

I’m doing it because I’m trying to drop my times for the 2 mile PT test and I’m building a base during the summer. In the fall I’ll add some tempo and sprints leading up to the test.

The original forum post that convinced me of MAF/LED was an Italian coach that went by HADD on some forums. This is a massive pdf that finally convinced me of why MAF/LED really works: https://www.angio.net/personal/run/hadd.pdf

Then recently I stumbled upon this video lecture at a university that really put the nail in the coffin
Optimising endurance training adaptation

Basically there’s a bunch of studies of some of the best Olympic endurance athletes, and all of them polarized their training with mostly MAF/LED/zone 1 and then a smaller amount of zone 4/5. Great lecture, worth the watch if you’re into endurance training.
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
@RLow04 Sounds like you're on a good program- no doubt you'll get a lot of benefits from it! I'd advise against jumping from 25mi/wk to 40. No doubt it can be done, but it's generally regarded best to only increase mileage 10% from week to week. When I used to log a lot of mileage, I'd plan to go up 10%/wk for 3 wks, then on the 4th do half of the actual average of the preceding 3 wks. Then start over...This will build up very quickly, but will eliminate most risks of overuse injury. Overuse injuries can show up later than a heavy week, and can look like an accident- twisted ankle or something like that. They really hurt your performance much more than a recovery week. Good luck & happy trails!
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Just my thoughts/opinions here, I don't have the science to back them.

I suspect that for most generalist, some flavor of high-intensity conditioning should be first priority. Most of the really fun athletic things in life revolve around short bursts of high effort.

But, at some point, it becomes a question of bang for the buck. Suppose a low-level generalist can only give 3 hours a week to train. Probably best to dedicate those 3 hours to some high-intensity work. But then, what if a 4th hour becomes available? I speculate that putting that 4th hour into some LED might enable that low-level generalist to reap more benefit from their other 3 hours of high-intensity work than they would get from a 4th hour of high-intensity work.

Just an example - I have no idea where that crossover point might be, and it probably depends very much on what level of intensity you can really achieve during your high-intensity training. But I suspect it exists somewhere.
 

Alan Mackey

More than 300 posts
But, at some point, it becomes a question of bang for the buck. Suppose a low-level generalist can only give 3 hours a week to train. Probably best to dedicate those 3 hours to some high-intensity work. But then, what if a 4th hour becomes available? I speculate that putting that 4th hour into some LED might enable that low-level generalist to reap more benefit from their other 3 hours of high-intensity work than they would get from a 4th hour of high-intensity work.
I would take a different route.

If all you can spare is three hour a week, maybe it would be better to focus on strength-endurance. Something like girevoy sport, SF’s strength-aerobics, Geoff Neupert’s Dry Fighting Weight, Dan John’s Armor Building Complex, etc...

Anything that might resemble Maffetone-ish type of lifting, which is the polar opposite of HIIT.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
Just my thoughts/opinions here, I don't have the science to back them.

I suspect that for most generalist, some flavor of high-intensity conditioning should be first priority. Most of the really fun athletic things in life revolve around short bursts of high effort.

But, at some point, it becomes a question of bang for the buck. Suppose a low-level generalist can only give 3 hours a week to train. Probably best to dedicate those 3 hours to some high-intensity work. But then, what if a 4th hour becomes available? I speculate that putting that 4th hour into some LED might enable that low-level generalist to reap more benefit from their other 3 hours of high-intensity work than they would get from a 4th hour of high-intensity work.

Just an example - I have no idea where that crossover point might be, and it probably depends very much on what level of intensity you can really achieve during your high-intensity training. But I suspect it exists somewhere.
I suppose it comes down to goals (again:))
I would be looking at it from a completely opposite perspective. Where 70% to 80% of available training time would be LED (ZR/Z1), depending of course upon where I am at in a training cycle.
 
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