By Nick Nilsson
Author of Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss
I'll be honest...most "normal" cardio training is extremely boring to me.
It's not fun (and I want to have fun when I'm training) and I'm not a fan of sitting on a machine and grinding away at something for 40 minutes.
I'd much rather use resistance and do something challenging and fun that doesn't really seem like cardio, though it actually ends up functioning as cardio.
That's where Kettlebell Swings come in.
This is a GREAT exercise not only for doing cardio but you can also use it with heavier weights and do it for strength as well. It develops all the muscles of the posterior chain and is an excellent total-body strengthener.
When you do it for time, with lighter weight, it's a very effective method of cardiovascular training as well, due to the sheer volume of muscle mass it works.
Now, just standing there and swinging a kettlebell is totally fine. However, once you get accustomed to (and/or bored with) just that, it's time to mix things up a bit. That's where this version comes in.
You're going to alternate swings of two arm, one-arm, two-arm, other arm. This is going to not only provide great cardio training, it's going to target the core strongly as well (especially the deep, anti-rotational muscles of the core, a.k.a. the internal and external obliques).
This not only gives you cardio training for fat-loss, it gives you killer abdominal work at the same time (and the kind of abdominal work that actually tightens up the waist).
As you can see, this is a GREAT method and something definitely worth adding in to your routine.
I've been using this one as my Interval Training for my Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss program and it's been working like crazy for me.
Here's how to do it...
First, get yourself a light to moderate weight kettlebell (this won't work with a dumbbell because it'll be too awkward to switch hands on the fly - you don't want to end up throwing the dumbbell across the gym).
I'm using a "homemade" kettlebell setup called a KettleStack, which is basically a handle with weight plates on it - total of 40 lbs. You can read the review I did of the KettleStack here.
Another great option is the KettleClamp. This is a handle that attaches to any dumbbell to make it into a kettlebell. It doesn't work for all kettlebell movements but it's GREAT for swings. Read the review I did of the KettleClamp here.
Pick up the KB with both hands, feet a bit outside shoulder-width apart. Bring the KB back and take a backswing.
Snap the hips forward to swing the KB up in front of you.
I only recommend swinging up shoulder height. There's no need to swing higher...that basically just adds more momentum to the downswing, which increases torque on the lower back. And with this movement, you want to be able to easily change grips...that point at the top of the swing right in front of you, where the KB is essentially weightless, is the best opportunity to do it.
So at the top, release your grip with your left hand so you're only holding on with your right. At the same time, step to the right with your left leg, bringing your feet together (this sounds complicated but it's actually a pretty natural movement when you try it and see it in action in the video).
Swing the kettlebell down outside your right side.
Swing it all the way back behind you. This is where you'll be targeting your core STRONGLY. Swinging weight outside of your base of support puts major counter-rotation tension on the obliques. Keep your core TIGHT during this one-arm swing.
Swing the KB back up to the front. This one-arm swing doesn't have as much hip power to it...more core and upper body action. At the top of the swing, grab it with both hands again and step your left foot out wide again. You're going to be doing a two-arm swing again here.
Swing the KB back down between your legs. Come all the way back into the backswing making sure you keep your lower back right and arched.
Snap the hips forward to swing the KB up again. Release your right hand from the KB and step your right in so your feet are together. Swing the KB back on your left side now.
Bring it all the way back then swing back up to the front. Notice how in the backswing, I'm leaning forward to counterbalance the momentum. This is important to do so you don't lose your balance. Swing back to the front and grab with both hands.
Swing back down and repeat the sequence.
Keep going with this sequence for however long you have set to do. I like to do intervals of at least 1 to 2 minutes of this.
One very important thing to note is that you shouldn't try and use heavy kettlebells for this one. Because you'll be swinging it outside of your base of support, it does put a fair bit of torque on the core. If your core isn't strong enough to handle that torque, the lower back and spine will take the brunt of it, which is not what we're looking for.
Keep the weight moderate and don't try and push it too heavy. I found for me, about 40 lbs was perfect.
Overall, this is a GREAT way to do fat-loss cardio training with resistance.
You hit a lot of muscle mass and it requires some degree of paying attention and skill to perform, but not so much that it's out of reach of anybody who wants to try it.
It develops phenomenal core strength and has the potential to tighten up your waist at the same time by hitting those deep "girdle" muscles of the core.
Do intervals of 1 to 2 minutes with a 2:1 rest interval (e.g. 1 minute of swinging gives you 30 seconds of rest in between...2 minutes of swinging gives you 1 minute of rest) and for go for 3 to 5 work intervals.
BAM. Cardio is done, ab training is done and you had fun doing it.
If you're doing my Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss program, you can use this wherever interval training is indicated.
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