Cardio must be done at the gym, right? Or pounding the pavements outside in the cold and rain, or by lapping the pool for hours on end?
Well, no, not at all – especially when you have a kettlebell or two to hand!
Cardiovascular activity is anything that involves elevating the heart rate to get it working harder than usual, and will involve movement of the major limbs in order to elicit an elevated heart rate response.
We all think of the obvious forms of cardio, but even weight training can have a cardiovascular benefit when the exercises are performed with minimal rest in between. I’m sure you’ve heard of circuit training, but when it comes to performing cardio outside of a circuit class we all tend to migrate to the ‘usuals’.
I think a lot of this is down to gyms! We don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves, so we ‘follow the herd’ and do what everyone else is doing, and what will keep us as invisible as possible. Jumping jacks, skipping, burpees etc are all just a little too, well, different, to feel comfortable doing in public.
Even if we exercise at home, it still feels a bit strange jumping around not moving anywhere, so we might go for a run instead. Ironically going nowhere in another sense…
The bodyweight exercises mentioned above are all excellent cardio conditioning exercises, and are actually more intense so can be performed in an interval training format (e.g. 1 minute on and 1 minute off) which gives you a far better fat burning and metabolism boosting workout than the equivalent time spent at a steady plod on the treadmill! You get much more high intensity work in, and it is intensity, not time spent exercising, that is the key to increased fitness and a boosted metabolism (which means increased fat loss!).
Kettlebells are also a perfect way to get cardiovascular conditioning without even having to move from the spot you are in – if you are ever asked what you would take onto your desert island, make sure it’s a kettlebell (you’ll then look super hot when you find the local ‘talent’ too!).
Swings are the basic kettlebell dynamic (hence cardiovascular) exercise, and involve your entire body. You simply (there is specific technique involved so not that simple to start with) swing the kettlebell backwards and forwards, bending at the knees and hips as you lower the kettlebell and driving the legs and hips up to raise the kettlebell, using momentum from the power of your legs and hips, rather than the strength of your arms.
If you doubt whether this can match plodding away on a treadmill, I recommend you give it a go! I did 25 swings with a 16kg kettlebell yesterday in between each set of resistance exercises (a total of 23 sets of 25 swings!) and in around 30 mins I had had a heart-pounding, metabolism boosting, endorphin rushing workout that was hard but enjoyable and immensely satisfying!
Compare that to jogging on a treadmill watch TV…. In fact, maybe don’t even try! In my view there is no contest, and once you’ve given it a go you’ll surely be hooked too!
For more kettlebell information as well as fat loss, fitness, health and nutrition secrets check out my blog: http://kettlebellebody.blogspot.com and make sure you sign up to my mailing list!