I get asked a lot of questions about kettlebells and cardio.
Do I need to do extra cardio on top of my kettlebell training?
My answer is usually the same, it depends on your goals!
If your goals are Fat Loss then your main focus should be increasing your metabolic rate by increasing muscle and tone.
The more muscle and tone you can add to your body the more energy your muscles require on a daily basis so you become a fat burning machine 24/7.
Cardio will only burn fat while you exercise and nobody can exercise 24/7.
Now here’s the beauty of kettlebell training, if you use my workouts and flow from one exercise to the next you can actually improve your cardio while at the same time adding muscle and tone.
Watch how kettlebell workouts can flow to increase your cardio:
You don’t need to choose between strength training and cardio.
With kettlebell training you can do BOTH.
So you can save time and get the results you want.
Now if your goals are purely improving your Cardio then you may want to approach things slightly differently.
Remember exercise is movement specific so if you want to get faster at running then running, and variations of it, are the best ways to improve that.
You don’t train for marathons by rowing and using kettlebells.
To improve your general cardio then intervals are a great option but too demanding for beginners.
Intervals are tough so if you are really going to go for it then you need apparatus that is fool-proof like an exercise bike or if you’re experienced a rower.
I personally use a Concept 2 rower.
My favourite interval session is 60 seconds as hard as I can then 60 seconds rest, repeated 6-10 times. I wear a heart rate monitor and record everything.
Work vs rest times will vary depending on your level of experience and your heart rate monitor can help you with this (when it drops to 60% of your max you know it’s time to go again).
So what does all this mean?
If Fat Loss is your primary goal, first get your diet in order and second perform kettlebell circuits to improve your metabolic rate and cardio all in one.
If Cardio is your goal then forget kettlebells and work on pure cardio using intervals on a rower or bike etc.
If you’re training for general health then mix the 2, some days intervals and other days kettlebells but don’t overdo it.
One final point…
Don’t try and use kettlebells to max out your cardio.
As you get tired and really start to push hard your technique will start to fail and you move into a survival mode.
A deep survival instinct that we have is to throw technique out the window and do just about anything to finish the rep or workout when we’re very tired.
So keep really demanding cardio workouts to fool-proof exercises or machines.
OK, I hope you found this useful and it makes things a little clearer on when and how to use cardio in your workout programs.