Kettlebell Kettlebell for Cardio.

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scottienomad

Level 4 Valued Member
whats up!

Whats your opinion on using kettlebell swings for cardio along side a strength training program ?

I'm doing Stronglifts 5x5 program with an added pull exercise each session.

I have a 16kg (35lb) bell I could use for the swings.

If it's something you would do, how would you do it ?

I thought about 100 swings everyday while fasted.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Depends upon what you mean by 'cardio' or perhaps more accurately what you want this cardio for. What are your training goals? If you are seeking this for general health and well being then yes KB Swings would help that. If you are seeking it because you are training for some endurance event, then I would look elsewhere for cardio. i.e. Running, Cycling, rucking, etc.
In fact I might look there anyway, seeing as you are already doing a good amount of moving weight.
I do S&S most days. So that includes 100swings. I don't consider that my cardio training however. But then, do doubt my reasons for training differ from yours.
 

Papa Georgio

Level 6 Valued Member
I used to do a Tracey Reifkind workout 2 to 3 times a work for cardio. This workout used 3 different sized bells for 400 swings under 15 minutes. You could start with doing them all with just the 16kg. When you consistently get 400 swings under 15 minutes you could progress by 1 of these
Adding more reps over 400
Mix in reps with heavier bell
Mix in 1 hand swings

Good luck.
 

scottienomad

Level 4 Valued Member
Strength gains and being leaner is my long term goal for this year. I do hate typical cardio exercises haha.

So yeah, just burn some calories and have the added benefits from the swings, it wouldn't take as long as being on the treadmill or something either.

I don't want it to slow progress on my lifts though, personally I don't think it would. 16kg isn't a lot of weight.

But I know guys on here will have a lot more experience and knowledge than I do lol
 

Papa Georgio

Level 6 Valued Member
Rest and recovery is always critical in a strength program. But I don't see 2 or 3 high rep swing sessions with a light bell interfering with that. In some respects it can enhance your strength program by acting as active recovery. Whatever you do listen to your body. Ramp up slow if you're not used to it.
 

miked

Level 6 Valued Member
As always, the right answer is "it depends," like others here have said.

I'm biased towards the AGT/A+A/Strong Endurance side of things. So if you throw in some swings using that style of training, great. I usually prescribe it after the strength work for the day with my students. Or on a totally separate day.

Stronglifts 5x5 is already a lot of volume, so you may not want to add even more - especially on lifting days. On off days, it may work well for you. Just pay attention to your body and notice if you feel like you're not getting a break.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Depends upon what you mean by 'cardio' or perhaps more accurately what you want this cardio for. What are your training goals? If you are seeking this for general health and well being then yes KB Swings would help that. If you are seeking it because you are training for some endurance event, then I would look elsewhere for cardio. i.e. Running, Cycling, rucking, etc.
In fact I might look there anyway, seeing as you are already doing a good amount of moving weight.
I do S&S most days. So that includes 100swings. I don't consider that my cardio training however. But then, do doubt my reasons for training differ from yours.
Interesting. My heart rate goes way up from the swings. Most of my S&S time is waiting for my heart rate to go down a bit in order to do the next set of swings, and then of TGUs. Because I do the TGUs right away after the swings, they "keep the cardio going" during the TGU session also.

I'll also add that I was fully prepared cardio-wise for intense judo sessions when I restarted judo, because of S&S - must have been from S&S because S&S was my only cardio exercise.
 

Shawn90

Level 5 Valued Member
Interesting. My heart rate goes way up from the swings. Most of my S&S time is waiting for my heart rate to go down a bit in order to do the next set of swings, and then of TGUs. Because I do the TGUs right away after the swings, they "keep the cardio going" during the TGU session also.

I'll also add that I was fully prepared cardio-wise for intense judo sessions when I restarted judo, because of S&S - must have been from S&S because S&S was my only cardio exercise.

Using a HR monitor for s&s is comfortable but far from ideal. Getting into the next set of any exercise without being fully recovered of the previous set yields more strength & hypertrophy gains. (find that sweetspot, so rest by feel/breath mastery helps)

plus swings in s&s isn't cardio...

@scottienomad
If i would use swings for cardio i'd do about 200/400 twohanded, 3x per week after the stronglifts. sets of 20/50. Not everyday.
 

Frank_IT

Level 4 Valued Member
I'm 100% with @offwidth on this one.

I'm 101% if you already progressed enough into Stronglifts.

Moreover, as Offwidth said, it really depends on what you ask from cardio. To me, MAF locomotion is pretty much unbeatable at that: it's sustainable, it doesn't stress the body too much and can't be beaten for health purposes.

100 swings a day are great, and I believe more volume can be sustained every other day without much stress, if done in multiple sets of five swings and adequate recovery between them (basically, A+A), but they just can't replace or yeld the same benefits of steady state, low heart rate frequency locomotion done for a long period of time (one full hour with occasional two/three sessions would be great, but if you're already beating the legs with Stronglifts, I guess 45 minutes and one hour stints will suffice).

I'll add that a lot of trainers of any kind, from Eliott Hulse to Andrew Read, strongly recommend to walk. It will obviously stop being enough soon, but just diving into rucking or even worse running without a base of locomotion is a terrible idea. I'm not even saying it does apply to you, @scottienomad, but consider one month or so of uphill walking at a fastened pace using an HR monitor, if you feel you joints and tendons aren't prepared for running/rucking for any reason.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Interesting. My heart rate goes way up from the swings. Most of my S&S time is waiting for my heart rate to go down a bit in order to do the next set of swings, and then of TGUs. Because I do the TGUs right away after the swings, they "keep the cardio going" during the TGU session also.

I'll also add that I was fully prepared cardio-wise for intense judo sessions when I restarted judo, because of S&S - must have been from S&S because S&S was my only cardio exercise.
@Kozushi ...
Please don't get me wrong. My heart rate goes up during swings as well. And like you I also wait for it to go down between sets. It's just that I don't consider the short amount of time Swings takes to be 'cardio'. Is there a cardiac response yes of course. I tend to look at things from an endurance athletes perspective most of the time, so to me when I talk cardio, I mean steady state cardio. The stuff that last from minutes into multi-hour, or day long efforts.
The cardio effect from swings would be excellent of course for mimicking the heart work needed for combat sports such as judo, or Kendo.
 

Kenny Croxdale

Level 6 Valued Member
Strength gains and being leaner is my long term goal for this year. I do hate typical cardio exercises haha.

Kettlebell Cardio

This method will absolutely work, providing the program is well written and executed.

High Intensity Interval Resistance Cardio Training

High Intensity Interval Cardio Training involves max all out effort usually composed of sprints (running, biking, elliptical, running bleacher, etc) of 30 seconds.

Heart rate is driven up to 85% of an individual's Heart Rate Max during each sprint.

Performing Kettlebell Swing under the same High Intensity Interval Cardio Training, virtually produces the same effect.

1) "The Kettlebell Swing Sprint": Preforming Swings with a fairly heavy Kettlebell will blow your heart rate through the roof, similar to a Sprint.

2) Rest Periods Between Sets: Rest periods between Kettlebell Swing Set are the same as between Springs. With that said, rest periods between varies depending on the training effect you want to elicit.

So yeah, just burn some calories and have the added benefits from the swings, it wouldn't take as long as being on the treadmill or something either.

Metabolic Training

Driving your heart rate above 85% of your Heart Rate Max (HIIT) for multiple Kettlebell Swing Sets increases EPOC, Excess Post Oxygen Consumption; your metabolic rate post workout is magnified.

EPOC is like overcharging your "Metabolic Credit Card", you are change interest.

Treadmill Sprints

High Intensity Interval Cardio Sprint won't take any longer than Kettlebell Swings; that is a misnomer.

16kg isn't a lot of weight.

16 kg Kettlebell

Most likely, you are correct. A 16kg Kettlebell is going to be too light.

An inexpensive device that you can make yourself that will allow you to preform Swing with heavier loads is the "Hungarian Core Blaster".

High Repetition Swings

This method is effective as a means of increasing endurance and for hypertrophy. However, the downside is that there is an inverse relationship between Endurance and Strength/Power/Speed.

That means as Endurance goes up, Strength/Power/Speed go down.

An interesting solution is...

Cluster Sets

These are sets within a set, short rest period taken between repetitions (10 to 40 seconds). This allows the Strength/Power/Speed Type IIa and IIb/x Muscle Fiber to recover so that you elicit greater force production (increase Strength/Power/Speed).

Let look at how that works in a...

Strength/Power/Speed Kettlebell Cluster Set

Let's use a 70 lb Kettlebell/Hungarian Core Blaster as an example.

Cluster Set 1:

70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds, 70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds, 70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds, 70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds.

Total: 4 Clusters.

Rest Time Before Cluster Set 2: 3 minutes

Then repeat for let's say 4 times.

Cluster Sets = High Intensity Interval Cardio Training

The Cluster Set Resistance Training Method replicates High Interval Interval Cardio Training.

Research (Drs Jonathan Oliver, Greg Haff, Mike Stone, etc) demonstrated that Strength/Power/Speed were increased via Clusters. Research found that this Cluster Sets, when the program is written and performed correctly, increase muscle mass.

As we know, High Intensity Interval Cardio Training is a paradox. It is the only method that is able to train both the anaerobic and aerobic systems; increasing Strength/Power/Speed as well as Endurance and increasing your Metabolic Rate (burning fat).

Kenny Croxdale
 
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Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I too think that walking is excellent. I think it's an all-round excellent exercise, period. You walk for over an hour a day, you're keeping healthy and reasonably fit.

I'll have to rethink things if I'm the only guy here who thinks that S&S counts as "cardio" - I must be wrong. Weird, because for the 30-40 minutes I do S&S, my heart rate is very elevated. I just don't see how this can't be called "cardio". It's a higher rate than when I walk.

To me, walking and jogging have a cardio component too, but they are more than this - they are mobility and dynamic balance exercises, and also train the legs for endurance (and not just the legs, really the whole body, although with the legs getting the most of it.)

I see everything through the lens of a wrestler (judo). "Strength" to me means what makes me better at judo. Running and walking do indeed strengthen my body for judo. S&S does indeed prepare me for the conditioning challenges of judo. Bodyweight exercises give me the strength to outgrip and dominate my opponents.
 

Frank_IT

Level 4 Valued Member
I too think that walking is excellent. I think it's an all-round excellent exercise, period. You walk for over an hour a day, you're keeping healthy and reasonably fit.

I'll have to rethink things if I'm the only guy here who thinks that S&S counts as "cardio" - I must be wrong. Weird, because for the 30-40 minutes I do S&S, my heart rate is very elevated. I just don't see how this can't be called "cardio". It's a higher rate than when I walk.

To me, walking and jogging have a cardio component too, but they are more than this - they are mobility and dynamic balance exercises, and also train the legs for endurance (and not just the legs, really the whole body, although with the legs getting the most of it.)

I see everything through the lens of a wrestler (judo). "Strength" to me means what makes me better at judo. Running and walking do indeed strengthen my body for judo. S&S does indeed prepare me for the conditioning challenges of judo. Bodyweight exercises give me the strength to outgrip and dominate my opponents.

Kozushi, you're not wrong, for my understanding of things.

S&S (like any other physical endevor, really) does have an endurance component. A top tire bodybuilder, acostumed to incline bench considerable weight many times and with limited rest periods, will have a very easy time moving less weight with a similar motor pattern before fatiguing (read having too much lactic acid on his tissues) himself so much he can't do that anymore. That's because I laugh ad those who look at bodybuilders and think they are air balloons - but that's another matter.
In a similar fashion, you're training your muscles and building resistance with the swings. In fact, once you go to a heavier bell, lighter weights can go for much longer in time. This however, isn't realistically endurable for enough time without either building up too much lactic acid (muscle fatigue) and/or cardiovascular stress (cardiovascular fatigue). Whatever comes first, it sotps working the movement in any case. That's why swings are performed in sets, and repeated when fresh. But there is a problem, if classic cardio gains are the goal: the heart elevation is just a recovery from the peaks induced by the work periods.
Cardiovascular conditioning, on the other hand, is trained with activities that put the energy system involved (aerobic) into light/medium-light stress for a prolong period of time (how much is debatable, the general guidelines are no less than 30 minutes, hence the vast majority of beginners' running program tend to build up to half an hour and then proceed from there). To do so, you have to choose exercises that limit the to absolute minimum the production of lactic acid and therefore muscle fatigue. That's why walking is a considerable stress for absolute beginners: calves tend to go first in fastened locomotion, not the heart nor the lungs. Once the muscles are trained enough, the cardiovascular system can be targeted through constant heart elevation, that has to be mild (the well known MAF formula being an excellent indicator, i.e.), for a prolonged period of time.

I suspect you are fit for Judo with just S&S because the sport is much more strength endurance oriented. That doesn't mean cardiovascular training can be taken out completely from the plans of a judoka, but a peaking period has to be considered.
That's how, if I understand correctly, prize fighters train: low stress for most o the camp, peaking near the end. Doing so, you have built up a base of conditioning in the first place, and prepared the body to gather energy from every possible source in the end.

Although unrelated to your post, that's also the reason why HIIT, metcon and Tabata methods are very good in the later stages of preparation to strength endurance event, because they train the body to sustain high intensity for a period of time really similar for said event with minimal recovery breaks in it (a 30-36 minutes title fight, for example). There is no way on Earth, though, that this type of trining alone can prepare an athlete to a long effort event (classic example being a marathon).

So, to conclude this tragedy I just wrote (I really need to be more concise): S&S is indeed keeping you fit for Judo, and it might very well be keeping you as fit for day to day activities or other sports, but, for cardiovascular purposes only, it isn't doing nearly as well as conventional cardio activities.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Kettlebell Cardio

This method will absolutely work, providing the program is well written and executed.

High Intensity Interval Resistance Cardio Training

High Intensity Interval Cardio Training involves max all out effort usually composed of sprints (running, biking, elliptical, running bleacher, etc) of 30 seconds.

Heart rate is driven up to 85% of an individual's Heart Rate Max during each sprint.

Performing Kettlebell Swing under the same High Intensity Interval Cardio Training, virtually produces the same effect.

1) "The Kettlebell Swing Sprint": Preforming Swings with a fairly heavy Kettlebell will blow your heart rate through the roof, similar to a Sprint.

2) Rest Periods Between Sets: Rest periods between Kettlebell Swing Set are the same as between Springs. With that said, rest periods between varies depending on the training effect you want to elicit.



Metabolic Training

Driving your heart rate above 85% of your Heart Rate Max (HIIT) for multiple Kettlebell Swing Sets increases EPOC, Excess Post Oxygen Consumption; your metabolic rate post workout is magnified.

EPOC is like overcharging your "Metabolic Credit Card", you are change interest.

Treadmill Sprints

High Intensity Interval Cardio Sprint won't take any longer than Kettlebell Swings; that is a misnomer.



16 kg Kettlebell

Most likely, you are correct. A 16kg Kettlebell is going to be too light.

An inexpensive device that you can make yourself that will allow you to preform Swing with heavier loads is the "Hungarian Core Blaster".

High Repetition Swings

This method is effective as a means of increasing endurance and for hypertrophy. However, the downside is that there is an inverse relationship between Endurance and Strength/Power/Speed.

That means as Endurance goes up, Strength/Power/Speed go down.

An interesting solution is...

Cluster Sets

These are sets within a set, short rest period taken between repetitions (10 to 40 seconds). This allows the Strength/Power/Speed Type IIa and IIb/x Muscle Fiber to recover so that you elicit greater force production (increase Strength/Power/Speed).

Let look at how that works in a...

Strength/Power/Speed Kettlebell Cluster Set

Let's use a 70 lb Kettlebell/Hungarian Core Blaster as an example.

Cluster Set 1:

70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds, 70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds, 70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds, 70 lbs X 6 Repetition Swings, Rest 30 Seconds.

Total: 4 Clusters.

Rest Time Before Cluster Set 2: 3 minutes

Then repeat for let's say 4 times.

Cluster Sets = High Intensity Interval Cardio Training

The Cluster Set Resistance Training Method replicates High Interval Interval Cardio Training.

Research (Drs Jonathan Oliver, Greg Haff, Mike Stone, etc) demonstrated that Strength/Power/Speed were increased via Clusters. Research found that this Cluster Sets, when the program is written and performed correctly, increase muscle mass.

As we know, High Intensity Interval Cardio Training is a paradox. It is the only method that is able to train both the anaerobic and aerobic systems; increasing Strength/Power/Speed as well as Endurance and increasing your Metabolic Rate (burning fat).

Kenny Croxdale

In the above example, what would the max reps of the individual be to have a working weight of 70lbs x 6 reps? Do you run the clusters by time, HR max, % of AMRAP?

I'd like to incorporate this once/week in my routine but don't know what my working load or reps should be. I can hit about 20 reps 1H swing with the 32kg, two hands will be about double that. Those will be all-out, no way I could do a string of 30 second repeats.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Kozushi, you're not wrong, for my understanding of things.

S&S (like any other physical endevor, really) does have an endurance component. A top tire bodybuilder, acostumed to incline bench considerable weight many times and with limited rest periods, will have a very easy time moving less weight with a similar motor pattern before fatiguing (read having too much lactic acid on his tissues) himself so much he can't do that anymore. That's because I laugh ad those who look at bodybuilders and think they are air balloons - but that's another matter.
In a similar fashion, you're training your muscles and building resistance with the swings. In fact, once you go to a heavier bell, lighter weights can go for much longer in time. This however, isn't realistically endurable for enough time without either building up too much lactic acid (muscle fatigue) and/or cardiovascular stress (cardiovascular fatigue). Whatever comes first, it sotps working the movement in any case. That's why swings are performed in sets, and repeated when fresh. But there is a problem, if classic cardio gains are the goal: the heart elevation is just a recovery from the peaks induced by the work periods.
Cardiovascular conditioning, on the other hand, is trained with activities that put the energy system involved (aerobic) into light/medium-light stress for a prolong period of time (how much is debatable, the general guidelines are no less than 30 minutes, hence the vast majority of beginners' running program tend to build up to half an hour and then proceed from there). To do so, you have to choose exercises that limit the to absolute minimum the production of lactic acid and therefore muscle fatigue. That's why walking is a considerable stress for absolute beginners: calves tend to go first in fastened locomotion, not the heart nor the lungs. Once the muscles are trained enough, the cardiovascular system can be targeted through constant heart elevation, that has to be mild (the well known MAF formula being an excellent indicator, i.e.), for a prolonged period of time.

I suspect you are fit for Judo with just S&S because the sport is much more strength endurance oriented. That doesn't mean cardiovascular training can be taken out completely from the plans of a judoka, but a peaking period has to be considered.
That's how, if I understand correctly, prize fighters train: low stress for most o the camp, peaking near the end. Doing so, you have built up a base of conditioning in the first place, and prepared the body to gather energy from every possible source in the end.

Although unrelated to your post, that's also the reason why HIIT, metcon and Tabata methods are very good in the later stages of preparation to strength endurance event, because they train the body to sustain high intensity for a period of time really similar for said event with minimal recovery breaks in it (a 30-36 minutes title fight, for example). There is no way on Earth, though, that this type of trining alone can prepare an athlete to a long effort event (classic example being a marathon).

So, to conclude this tragedy I just wrote (I really need to be more concise): S&S is indeed keeping you fit for Judo, and it might very well be keeping you as fit for day to day activities or other sports, but, for cardiovascular purposes only, it isn't doing nearly as well as conventional cardio activities.
If it weren't for people like you on this website, I would have neglected proper cardio training to the detriment of my health. I had no idea at all that "cardio" was different from S&S, and had neglected it for almost a year. My instincts to just get outside and the fact that I definitely feel better and am certainly stronger all over after walking did keep me in the loop with walking, but I was not making any real effort to get out and walk. Now I think differently and I'll be making a lot of efforts to get out, and to therefore live longer and better. Thank you!
 

Frank_IT

Level 4 Valued Member
@Kozushi, you're welcome, man! I'm just giving back a little of what I constatly gather from every person on this place, you included.

I'll cite Andrew Read (although not literally, but it will suffice): "I've seen powerlifters one burger away from a heart stroke, and thriatlon athletes who looked like they could live forever".

That is a little bit over the top, probably, but since Al Ciampa introduced me to the magic of LSD (long-slow-distance) I haven't looked back since. I must admit weight training is still my favorite, but I don't neglect cardiovascular activity anymore.
My uncle will turn 58 this year and is a multiple marathon runner at amateur levels, never touched serious iron in his life and no bodyweight either, yet his current fitness level is comparable to people very, very younger than him (proven by the fact that after just two years of boxing classes - which are now four - he could already mop the floor with most of his sparring partners).

A couple of important books I think you might find interesting are Run Strong by Andrew Read himself (which also is a high caliber kettlebell instructor and BJJ practicioner, by the way), which I unfortunately haven't read, and PT Manual by Albert Ciampa. The latter is the single, inexplicably less known booked in the history of physical training, in my opinion.

To close the post, Mr. @mprevost is an authoritative voice on this subject.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
@Kozushi, you're welcome, man! I'm just giving back a little of what I constatly gather from every person on this place, you included.

I'll cite Andrew Read (although not literally, but it will suffice): "I've seen powerlifters one burger away from a heart stroke, and thriatlon athletes who looked like they could live forever".

That is a little bit over the top, probably, but since Al Ciampa introduced me to the magic of LSD (long-slow-distance) I haven't looked back since. I must admit weight training is still my favorite, but I don't neglect cardiovascular activity anymore.
My uncle will turn 58 this year and is a multiple marathon runner at amateur levels, never touched serious iron in his life and no bodyweight either, yet his current fitness level is comparable to people very, very younger than him (proven by the fact that after just two years of boxing classes - which are now four - he could already mop the floor with most of his sparring partners).

A couple of important books I think you might find interesting are Run Strong by Andrew Read himself (which also is a high caliber kettlebell instructor and BJJ practicioner, by the way), which I unfortunately haven't read, and PT Manual by Albert Ciampa. The latter is the single, inexplicably less known booked in the history of physical training, in my opinion.

To close the post, Mr. @mprevost is an authoritative voice on this subject.
It's clear to me that this is all terrifically important. Again, it goes to validate instincts that I had through the years about exercise but never understood scientifically and constantly doubted myself even though I did them - 1. that walking long distances is super good for you, and 2. that chinups and dips (bodyweight training) are excellent exercises.
 

Bret S.

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
In the above example, what would the max reps of the individual be to have a working weight of 70lbs x 6 reps? Do you run the clusters by time, HR max, % of AMRAP?

I'd like to incorporate this once/week in my routine but don't know what my working load or reps should be. I can hit about 20 reps 1H swing with the 32kg, two hands will be about double that. Those will be all-out, no way I could do a string of 30 second repeats.
I've been doing these clusters with a 40 like this..

Swing 6 reps, rest 30 seconds
Swing 6 reps, rest 30 seconds
Swing 6 reps, rest 30 seconds
Swing 6 reps, rest 3 minutes or until sub 110 HR

Repeat 4 times (I may add more in the future) You get 96 heavy explosive swings in a fairly short period of time and actually feel more energized when finished. Highly recommend.
 
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