Heart rate kettlebell training workouts enable you to individualise your training.
If you want to know when to rest, how hard to push, or when it’s time to take a day off, then training with a heart rate monitor could be for you.
Heart rate training gives you instant feedback on your stress level, intensity level, recovery times and more so you can better understand how to schedule your workouts in the future.
Let’s take a deeper look into heart rate kettlebell training and see how you can benefit from this type of training.
How to Start Heart Rate Kettlebell Training
The easiest and safest way to start heart rate kettlebell training is to strap on your heart rate monitor and just keep an eye on how your heart rate changes during each exercise and workout.
Most watches, apps and machines will tell you your average, and max heart rate during your workouts. Start writing these numbers down after each workout.
You should also start to monitor your resting heart rate, take a reading first thing in the morning and write this number down.
Your resting heart rate is a good marker for the amount of stress within your body at any particular time so if one morning your resting heart rate is higher than usual then you may want to take a day off your training.
Heart Rate Monitors
If you have a chest strap you will find this more accurate than a wrist based heart rate monitor. You can sync your chest strap with various apps for your phone or tablet.
If you do use a wrist watch based monitor then be careful you don’t damage your watch with any exercises where the kettlebell rests on the wrist like the clean, press, and snatch etc.
Over time you will start to get a feeling for what your heart rate numbers represent. You will know at what number you start to breathe heavy and can’t talk, and at what number you feel you can recover while you are still moving.
A Word of Warning
Before we explore heart rate training zones I just want to give you a word of warning, heart rate training works best with cardio based workouts rather than heavy lifting.
During kettlebell heavy lifting workouts there is a huge increase in blood pressure and very irregular breathing patterns due to bracing so heart rate readings can be very erratic.
So heart rate training with kettlebells should be kept to cyclical and rhythmic exercises that use less weight and focus more on cardio rather than all out strength.
Heart Rate Training Zones
Understanding your heart rate training zones will help you to better focus your training and achieve your particular goals.
Let’s take a look at the 4 training zones individually:
Zone 1 – Easy
The first zone is the easiest and is calculated at 60% – 75% of your Maximum Heart Rate. You can think of this zone as a long slow distance pace that you could maintain for long periods of time. The energy source for this zone is aerobic so using an unlimited supply of oxygen. You will also use this zone for recovery periods during interval training.
Zone 2 – Moderate
The second zone is at 75% – 85% of your Maximum Heart Rate. During this zone you will feel like you are working and start sweating. You can think of this zone as a steady stamina pace where energy is supplied by a combination of aerobic and anaerobic, meaning some from oxygen and some without.
Zone 3 – Hard
The next zone is calculated at 85% – 95% of your Maximum Heart Rate. During this zone you will start to find the going tough and because the main energy supply is anaerobic you will produce lactic acid. You can usually taste lactic acid and prolonged periods of time in this zone may make you feel sick so you will need to stop or slow down. Longer interval training will use this zone.
Zone 4 – Very Hard
The hardest zone is an all out max effort and calculated at 95% or more of your Maximum Heart Rate. No one can last very long within this zone because energy is supplied by ATP which you have a very limited supply of. Shorter interval training is conducted within this zone with much longer rest periods.
Calculating Your Maximum Heart Rate
You will notice that all the above numbers are calculated off your maximum heart rate.
Your max heart rate is the most amount of beats per minute that your heart can achieve. Your max heart rate cannot be improved, it’s an absolute number that decreases as you age.
Discovering your maximum heart rate is perhaps the most challenging part of heart rate training. There are many formulas that are supposed to calculate your max heart rate but they can be wildly inaccurate often 20 beats out.
220 – your age = Max Heart Rate
Doesn’t take into account genetics or gender.
Just as an example, see how it applies to my own personal max heart rate of 188.
220 – 45 = 175 Max Heart Rate.
How do I know my own Max Heart Rate is 188?
Because I’ve performed workouts where I’ve reached this number and not been able to push it any higher.
It is also important to note that maximum heart rate numbers will vary from one activity to the next, swimming is notoriously lower than running for example. My max heart rate above was performed on a Concept 2 rower.
What is the best way to determine your maximum heart rate?
Performing a full out max effort for most people is not recommended so you need to try and predict your max by recording your workouts over time.
You can also use a common sense approach by using your perceived rate of exertion on a scale of 1 to 10. 10 is an all out max effort and 7 would be a zone 2.
The more you practice your workouts and take notes, on your heart rates and rate of perceived exertion, you will start to get a feeling for zones 1, 2 and 3. Zone 4 can be reserved for the more professional athlete or those with a solid background in athletic training.
Your maximum heart rate is not as easy as you think to calculate plus heart rates change depending on activity so you should treat the above zones as guidelines only.
1Beginners Heart Rate Kettlebell Training Workout
The best place to begin heart rate training using a kettlebell is with kettlebell swing intervals.
The following kettlebell swing intervals will help burn fat, increase your cardio thresholds and develop full body strength and condition.
Treat the below workout as an introduction into self discovery about how your heart rate numbers change as you exercise and rest.
Keep track of how high your heart rate gets, how long you need to rest, your average heart rate and how long each workout takes.
Notice how your recovery times will improve just because you are pushing yourself when needed rather than using a set interval time.
Heart Rate Kettlebell Training Workout 1
- Two Handed Swing x 10 – 25 reps
- Rest until HR is 60% – 70% of Max
- Repeat for 5 – 10 circuits
The kettlebell two handed swing with resting intervals is the best introduction to heart rate training with kettlebells.
The protocol for this workout is simple, swing the kettlebell with 2 hands for 10 – 20 reps and then rest until your heart rate drops down to 60% of your max before repeating the next set.
For example, my max heart rate is 188 so I would rest until my heart rate drops down to 112 (60% of 188).
As you practice this workout you will notice that your recovery heart rate will start to improve so it will take less time for your heart rate to drop to 60%.
When you feel that the workouts are getting too easy then you can increase your baseline recovery rate to 70% of your maximum heart rate for a more challenging workout.
You will find it interesting how your resting periods will change from the first set to later sets.
Variations: beginners should start with the two handed swing before later progressing on to the one handed swing and finally the alternating swing.
Two Handed Kettlebell Swing
The two handed kettlebell swing is the ultimate full body kettlebell exercise and excellent for heart rate training.
Your kettlebell swings should be smooth and rhythmical with all power being generated from the hips not the arms.
Squeeze the buttocks tight at the top of the swing and brace the abs to prevent yourself leaning backwards.
Make sure your back is kept flat throughout the exercise and you are bending from the hips rather than the lower back.
Men should be able to comfortably swing a 16kg (35lbs) kettlebell or more with both hands and ladies a 12kg (25lbs) or more.
Want more? Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing
Watch a video of the kettlebell two handed swing below:
2Intermediate Heart Rate Kettlebell Training Workout
Building on the beginners workout above the following workout will push your heart rate higher and quicker ultimately resulting in longer rest periods.
Again this workout is excellent for fat loss as well as improving lactic acid tolerance and full body conditioning.
Heart Rate Kettlebell Training Workout 2
- Kettlebell Thruster x 10 – 20 reps
- Rest until HR is 60% – 70% of Max
- Repeat for 3 – 6 sets
Similar to the beginners workouts above the kettlebell thruster is performed for 10 – 20 repetitions before resting until your heart rate drops to 60% – 70% of your max.
Variations: those new to the thruster should start with the 2 handed variation, before progressing to the single handed and finally the double kettlebell.
The kettlebell thruster is a challenging full body exercise that will elevate the heart rate quickly.
The depth of the squat is very important in order to fully activate the buttocks, ensure your thighs reach parallel with the floor.
As you drive up from the bottom of the squat use your momentum to push the kettlebell smoothly overhead.
You will not need a heavy kettlebell to benefit from this exercise so keep the load light so you can keep the repetitions higher.
Want more? How to Master the Kettlebell Thruster
Watch a video of the kettlebell thruster using two hands below:
3Advanced Heart Rate Kettlebell Training Workout
Our final heart rate training workout with kettlebells uses longer repetitions and no rest periods.
The objective of this workout is to work at a higher intensity for longer and so develop better stamina and cardio capacity.
You should use your heart rate monitor as a way of tracking progress from one workout to the next.
Track the maximum heart rate you achieve, your average heart rate, repetitions completed and the time it takes for you to recover at the end of the workout.
Heart Rate Kettlebell Training Workout 3
- Snatch x 10 minutes
- Record the amount of reps
The format of this kettlebell workout is simple. Perform as many kettlebell snatches as possible in 10 minutes, changing hands as many times as needed.
Don’t put the kettlebell down on the floor when changing hands.
Count the amount of total repetitions that you perform during the 10 minutes. Your goal is 200.
Once finished write down all your numbers: max heart rate achieved, average, reps, and recovery back down to 60% of max.
The kettlebell snatch is the ultimate full body power generating exercise.
Just as with the kettlebell swing most of the power is produced from the hips with the rest coming from the upper back.
The lower back should remain flat and all bending should come from pushing the hips backwards.
Keep the kettlebell close to the body as your pull the kettlebell up and overhead.
Timing is the key to avoiding banging the wrist at the top. Punch the hand through at the top rather than waiting for the kettlebell to flop over.
A good tempo to maintain is 10 repetitions on one side before changing to the other hand via a single handed swing.
Men should be using a 16kg (35lbs) or more at this level and women a 12kg or higher.
Want more? Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Snatch
Watch a video of the kettlebell snatch below:
Conclusion of Heart Rate Kettlebell Training Workouts
Heart rate kettlebell training workouts are an effective way to personalise your workouts.
Beginners should start by just familiarising themselves with how their heart rate changes between exercise and rest.
Above I have listed 3 different kettlebell workouts for you to try using your heart rate monitor.
With practice you can determine your max heart rate and then use the 4 heart rate training zones to better focus your training.
Monitoring your resting heart rate is also useful to determine the amount of stress your body is under and whether you need to reduce your workout load or take a days rest.
Finally, heart rate kettlebell training workouts can be a fun way to monitor and record the progress you make with this highly effective full body conditioning tool.
Have you tried Heart Rate Kettlebell Training? Let me know more below: