Some people swear by kettlebells while others avoid them. The amount of people who swear by them seems to be increasing due to the new discoveries of their added benefits. Are one of those benefits that a kettlebell workout can replace cardio exercise?
The best known benefit kettlebells provide over other forms of exercise is that they combine cardio and strength training into one quick and efficient exercise. This means you can expect to burn off the calories you’d typically be doing through a cardio workout while building muscle mass.
While kettlebell workouts promote muscle burning and fat loss, are they as good as their traditional counterparts?
Determining if a Kettlebell Workout can Replace Cardio Exercise
The first thing you need to understand is that kettlebell exercises work your body differently than cardio exercise. Kettlebell exercise typically puts your body in a heightened state of intensity compared to your typical cardio workout. This mean your heart rate increases and VO2 max will increase over traditional cardio exercise. VO2 max is the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. VO2 max is a widely used measurement for athletes to use to measure how much of an effect a particular exercise has on their body.
The higher intensity of kettlebell workouts essentially puts your body into energy-burning mode for longer. This is because your body is trying to keep up its energy with the higher intensity workout. This equates to a longer after-burner effect where your body increases your metabolic processes for longer periods of time. The longer after-burner affect allows you to burn more calories at rest.
A study done by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2010, found kettlebells may improve cardiovascular fitness. The study was done by having participants do a 2 arm swing with a 16kg kettlebell for a many reps as they can do. They then measured their heart rate and VO2 max. The heart rate was on average 85% of their maximum and their VO2 was 65% of their maximum. The study’s results mean you can enhance your cardio training by replacing some of your traditional cardio workout routines with kettlebell workouts. The study also concludes that a kettlebell workout routine will produce a higher intensity effect on your body which means you will have a more intense workout in a shorter amount of time.
This is great news for people who need a quick effective workout on a tight schedule. It is because of this reason that if I have a very short window of time to work out in I will do a quick kettlebell workout to get some sort of exercise in for the day.
Kettlebells can be a great replacement to cardio exercise from time to time, however due to the nature of how a kettlebell workout affects your body, I don’t recommend completely replacing your cardio workouts with kettlebell workouts. If you do too many kettlebell workous in a short period of time you may experience exhaustion from overworking your body and muscles. Because your heart rate is much higher doing a kettlebell workout than traditional cardio exercise, you can’t sustain it for as long so expect to do shorter more intense workouts and try not to overdo it when first starting out.
I find it much more beneficial to pick exercises you love to do and when it comes to cardio this is no exception to that rule. If you find you enjoy kettlebell workouts more than running on the treadmill then try to include a high intensity kettlebell workout into your exercise routine in place of running on the treadmill. When it comes to choosing exercises, don’t be afraid to switch it up.
So what’s your thoughts on incorporating kettlebell workouts to replace your traditional cardio workouts?