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Intense Kettlebell Workouts Improve Aerobic Fitness

Kettlebells are most commonly thought of as a bodybuilding tool, but they can also lead to significant gains in aerobic fitness, according to research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

In a small study at an anonymous NCAA Division I school, female soccer players who did intense kettlebell training three times a week for four weeks in addition to their regular training increased their VO2 max, a measure aerobic fitness, 6 percent, while teammates who added regular circuit training to their routine saw no such improvement.

The kettlebell workout the women did consisted of 15 seconds of kettlebell snatch followed by 15 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 20 minutes. Kettlebell snatches (demonstrated in the video below) are performed by bringing the kettlebell from between the legs above the head with one arm. In the study, soccer players alternated arms for each 15-second work bout and were told to do the snatches as quickly as possible.

Circuit training consisted of five sets of exercises such as ball squats, push-ups, and a two-minute sprint, with two minutes of rest between sets. Therefore, as with kettlebell training, the total working time was 10 minutes.

The kettlebell group jump in aerobic form did not happen because they were otherwise inactive. As the researchers wrote, “The athletes performed a resistance session for about 1 hour, then the [20-minute kettlebell or circuit training workout] followed by aerobic / anaerobic cardiovascular training. The only difference in the training program between the groups was the [kettlebell or circuit training workout]. “

For their workouts, the women used 12 kilogram (26.4 pound) kettlebells, or about 18% of their body weight.

The researchers said their finding has potential relevance beyond the immediate scope of their study.

“This protocol can also be used during injury rehabilitation,” they wrote. “Athletes who have suffered a lower extremity injury that warrants little or no impact can follow this protocol as an alternative to maintain aerobic conditioning. The kettlebell snatch is a dynamic, low-impact exercise that provides sufficient resistance for muscle building. , in addition to improving aerobic capacity. “

The video below shows how to do a safe kettlebell snatch.

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