There are choices we have to make every day: Should we take the stairs or the elevator? Call it quits at mile three or keep trudging along? Do a few extra burpees or drop to our knees? Much of this decision-making is anchored by our breathing. With better breathing (read: cardio skills), you can build a stronger heart and possibly add years to your life. One way to do this: working kettlebells into your exercise routine.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, researchers split collegiate women soccer players into two groups: one performed 20 minutes of circuit weight training while the other did kettlebell snatches. Both groups trained three days a week for four weeks, completing the weight circuit and kettlebell exercises in addition to their usual workout routines. The kettlebellers boosted their cardiovascular and aerobic fitness by 6%, while the circuit trainers saw no significant improvements.
“It's really about the interval sequence and intensity of exercise,” explains study author Jonathan Falatic, an athletic trainer at San Jose State University. “Kettlebells yield a high intensity level when performing large movements like snatches.” Using kettlebells can also improve strength, endurance, body composition, and overall fitness, Falatic says.
Not a soccer player? No worries—you don’t have to be Kelley O’Hara to benefit from swinging around a kettlebell. “With proper instruction, kettlebells are a great addition to any cross-training program,” adds Falatics, “because the movements are dynamic, allowing you to exercise multiple muscle groups at once and enhance coordination.” Plus, they'll really get your heart pumping.
Want more gusto to get through those I-want-to-quit-right-now moments? We suggest clutching your kettlebell and heading to the weight room ASAP.
Try these two moves:
The kettlebell swing is the base of any kettlebell workout. Here's how to do it perfectly.
Squats are one of the best sculpting moves you can do for your lower body. Take it up a notch by adding a kettlebell and doing a goblet squat instead.