Kettlebells are growing in popularity in workouts today, and for good reason.  Kettlebells are a versatile piece of fitness equipment that can be utilized in traditional strength exercises, or can be swung, thrown or caught in such a way to elevate the heart rate and gain a total body cardiovascular workout.  Effective in both manners, incorporating kettlebell training into your routine will help you to burst past any plateau.

This article will focus on using kettlebells as part of a fat busting cardio workout.

One way kettlebells are commonly used for a cardio workout is through the use of tabata-style workouts. 

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According to the Tabata Protocol, Tabata intervals usually follow a warm up and include multiple sets of 20 second all out intervals followed by 10 seconds rest (http://www.tabataprotocol.com/).  This style of exercise pushes your body to its limits: you should feel exhausted when you have completed your work interval and so ready for the rest interval.

This type of workout is really intense, so it is best to ease into tabatas and also ensure you only do tabata workouts 2-3 days per week. Any more than that could lead to you overtraining or injuring yourself.

Kettlebells also work great incorporated into a circuit style workout.  Circuit workouts incorporate several exercises completed back to back with little rest in between each exercise.  Completing exercises in this manner will keep your heart rate elevated, thus giving you both the strength benefits as well as cardiovascular benefits.  This will save you LOTS of time in the gym, as you won’t have to spend more time doing cardio after you’ve completed your strength training routine.

Aside from the forms of cardio training, it is also important to discuss kettlebell form.  The most basic exercise to complete with a kettlebell is a swing.  To begin the swing, begin with legs spread about hip width apart, toes pointed straight ahead.  Select a kettlebell and lightly hold the bell with an overhand grip.  Hinge forward at the hips, creating a straight line in your back, and slightly bend your knees.

Then using your posterior chain (think glutes and hamstrings), thrust your hips forward and allow your arms to swing up to shoulder height.  (American Kettlebell Swings go overhead; you can certainly try this, but if you have any shoulder issues, I would stay away from overhead swings).  During this exercise a common mistake I see is people trying to “muscle” the kettlebell up.

This makes the exercise look more like a squat followed by a front shoulder raise.  The power for this exercise should come from the hips and glutes, which is only achieved through the pelvic thrust and hip hinge. There are many variations to this swing, you can use only 1 hand or you can alternate hands with each swing.  You can even complete Olympic Lifts such as the snatch with kettlebells!  Now that we have basic form out of the way, let’s get to the workouts!

kettlebell-cardio-workouts_2

Beginner Tabata Workout

Warm up for 5-10 minutes on a treadmill, elliptical, bike or your favorite other cardio machine

2 sets of 20 seconds kettlebell swings followed by 10 seconds rest

Cool down for 5-10 minutes and stretch

Intermediate to advanced tabata workout

Warm up for 5-10 minutes on a treadmill, elliptical, bike or your favorite other cardio machine

Begin with 3 sets of 20 seconds kettlebell swings followed by 10 seconds rest.  As you progress, add an extra set each week until you reach 8 sets.  You can also progress by increasing the weight of the kettlebell when these intervals begin to feel too easy.

Cool down for 5-10 minutes and stretch

Beginner circuit workout

Complete 2-3 sets of this beginner workout for maximal results

Warm up for 5-10 minutes

  1. 2 hand  kettlebell swings x 30 seconds
  2. Plank x 30 seconds
  3. Goblet Squat x 12 reps
  4. Kettlebell supported row x 12 reps
  5. Alternating kettlebell swings x 30 seconds
  6. Kettlebell crunch x 12-15 reps (hold the kettlebell at the chest and complete a crunch)
  7. Kettlebell chest press x 12 reps
  8. Kettlebell reverse row x 12 reps

Cool down for 5-10 minutes

Intermediate circuit workout

Complete 2-4 sets of these exercises

Warm up for 5-10 minutes

  1. 2 hand  kettlebell swings x 45 seconds
  2. Kettlebell windmill x 10-12 reps each side
  3. Kettlebell single leg squat x 10-12 reps each side
  4. Renegade row x 12 reps
  5. Alternating kettlebell swings x 45 seconds
  6. Kettlebell crossover crunch x 10-12 reps each side
  7. Kettlebell lateral lunge with upright row x 12 reps
  8. Kettlebell  overhead press x 12 reps

Cool down for 5-10 minutes

Advanced circuit workout

Complete 3-4 sets of these exercises

Warm up for 5-10 minutes

  1. 1 hand  kettlebell swings (right) x 30 seconds
  2. Kettlebell chest press (right) x 12 reps
  3. Kettlebell row (right) x 12 reps
  4. Kettlebell goblet squat x 12-15 reps
  5. 1 hand  kettlebell swings (left) x 30 seconds
  6. Kettlebell chest press (left) x 12 reps
  7. Kettlebell row (left) x 12 reps
  8. Kettlebell Reverse lunge x 12-15 reps
  9. Alternating kettlebell swing x 45 seconds
  10. 2 hand Kettlebell swing x 45 seconds

Cool down for 5-10 minutes

I hope you enjoy this fat busting kettlebell workout!  Remember, to really bust through a plateau or reach the fat loss you desire, keep the intensity high and give yourself plenty of rest in between workouts!

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