Quick kettlebell workout for strength & cardio

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Shutterstock.com/ Burnt Red Hen

There are situations when we just don’t have enough time to do strength training and cardio separately. But don’t worry, there’s a way to blend both these fitness goals together into one intense workout. All it takes is some inventiveness, a little ambition and your kettlebell. Here’s a quick kettlebell workout to build muscle and get your heart pumping to improve cardio.

Kettlebell swing

This is the most common kettlebell move. The swing is so universally accepted as a strength building, cardio move, we thought it the perfect place to start your kettlebell workout. There’s more to our reasoning than simply the commonness of the exercise.

You can kick off a workout with the kettlebell swing using a lighter weight. This gives you the perfect opportunity to loosen up about every muscle in your body. As with the rest of our circuit, you want to ramp up the repetitions on all sets over lifting a heavier weight.

Lifting heavy weights does build strength. But, it won’t allow you to perform the number of reps essential for getting your heart pumping. Do the kettlebell swing for a full 60-second set.

You can rotate between the normal swing and the overhead kettlebell swing to increase the intensity and target additional muscle groups. Now, the key concept behind getting the cardio benefit from this workout. Rest is for the weary, but you don’t want to be weary until you’re finished.

Between each of these exercises, limit your rest period. Using a 60-second timer for each set; apply a 15-second principle for all rest periods. Anything longer than this will cause you to lose the target heart rate we’re striving to attain.

Start your workout with one of the two common versions, and then move right to these exercises to get your heart pumping and keep it that way. Beginners can use a longer rest period until their bodies become acclimated to the intensity.

Kettlebell core

Now, for those who feel something akin to rest is in order, you get to sit down for the next exercise. However, you’ll be doing anything but resting. The first move is to the kettlebell twist. This is a side-to-side motion that also provides limited benefit to your shoulders.

The twist is one of back-to-back core strengthening moves in this phase your workout. Sit with your back titled slightly backwards, knees slightly bent. Take a kettlebell weight you can control, and begin tapping on the floor to one side, and then across your body tapping it to the other side.

As with the kettlebell swing, do the kettlebell oblique twist for a full 60-second set. Since we’re already nice and comfy on our floor mat, let’s stick with a second kettlebell floor move. Kettlebell figure eights will continue to strengthen your core muscles, but also get your arms and shoulders into the equation.

You’ll be in the same position, but you’ll use a lighter kettlebell weight. This time you want to pass the kettlebell under one of your legs as you rotate them up and down in a scissor motion. Again, work through enough repetitions to get to 60-seconds.

Kettlebell squats

Shifting our focus to the lower half of your body, let’s get a leg move in the circuit. Kettlebell squats are a simple exercise that works your hips, buttocks, thighs and calves. You hold the kettlebell in a similar position to the swing move.

With the kettlebell between your legs, squat down to a sitting-type position, and then stand upright. You’ll follow the same 60-second format as with the previous exercises. After this last exercise set, you can take a full 60-second break.

Use this time to hydrate and focus on the next round of exercises. The key idea behind this workout structure is to keep your heart rate up as you perform kettlebell exercises that develop strength in wide-ranging set of muscles.

While a very simple series of kettlebell moves, these will target an excellent collection of muscle groups. Keeping the weights lower and the repetitions high will still build muscle strength. However, as you progress through each of these circuits, multiple times, you’re going to appreciate the level of cardio benefit this workout offers.