Are Kettlebell Workouts Cardio or Strength?

Are Kettlebell Workouts Cardio or Strength?

Creativity in the workouts keeps clients interested in the program. Boring or unappealing training quickly saps motivation and hinders advancement. And cardio frequently belongs to the category of monotonous exercises that people detest. How enjoyable can use a treadmill for 30 continuous minutes of running or walking?

There are numerous additional ways to include cardio in a program. Yeah, without utilizing a bike, elliptical, or treadmill.

An additional aerobic session at the end of a workout can be replaced with a kettlebell workout. They provide a way to mix strength and cardio training into one. Let’s look at how utilizing a kettlebell can help you improve your cardiovascular fitness.

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Quick Summary

  • Kettlebell training can be cardio or strength, depending on how you use kettlebells.
  • Even though you can’t swing for as long, kettlebell swings burn more calories per minute than running. 
  • With kettlebell training, multiple muscles are used during each exercise.

Cardio Definition

Cardio or Cardiovascular exercise relates to the Cardiovascular System, the heart, and the lungs. Any workout that puts demands on the heart and lunges for an extended period could be called cardio.

Traditionally, cardio relates to exercises like running, cycling, hill walking, rowing, etc. All activities elevate the heart rate and make you breathe hard for long periods.

If you’ve been thinking about getting some of the best equipment for cardio training and fat loss, then you must check out our guide about the best cheap treadmills under $300.

Strength Definition

Building your muscular system through strength training can enable you to lift more weight, run faster, punch harder, and do other athletic feats.

The traditional exercises associated with strength training include weightlifting and bodyweight movements like squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.

Are Kettlebell Workouts Cardio or Strength?

Kettlebell workouts can be cardio or strength, depending on how you use kettlebells. As a result of the difficulty of the weight you are lifting, kettlebell exercises are naturally strength-based. 

They become more strength-based as you add more weight. Cardio exercises can also be done using kettlebells. Most kettlebell workouts employ hundreds of muscles at once; thus, they demand a lot of energy from the heart and lungs. 

Kettlebell training can simultaneously encourage strength and aerobic development if planned in a circuit format. This is why kettlebell training is becoming increasingly well-liked as a way to get outstanding results while conserving time.

Kettlebells for Strength

Kettlebells, like dumbbells, medicine balls, and barbells, are unquestionably heavy functional fitness equipment.

The weight ranges for kettlebells are 8 kg, 12 kg, 16 kg, 24 kg, and 32 kg. Kettlebells can therefore be categorized as a tool for improving strength since they are weight.

Every kettlebell exercise that pushes you qualifies as a strength-based workout, provided you use a challenging kettlebell.

Kettlebells for Cardio

Each movement in kettlebell training involves the use of numerous muscles. The oxygen needed to power a movement increases as more muscles are used. By their very nature, kettlebell workouts can easily turn into cardiovascular exercises. 

Hence, how you plan your kettlebell training will depend on whether or not the exercises are considered aerobic fitness. For instance, if you exercise slowly and with a less challenging weight, your heart won’t have to work as hard. But, if you use a heavy weight and combine a number of kettlebell exercises into a circuit, your heart rate will increase and stay elevated for a considerable amount of time.

Kettlebell Cardio and Strength Total Body Exercises

A great cardio and strength training workout may be achieved using kettlebells. The exercises use the complete body and build skills like balance, coordination, and power in a manner that using dumbbells or a barbell can’t. Enjoy attempting these ten dynamic exercises.

Turkish Get Up

One of the unique kettlebell exercises is the Turkish get-up, which is excellent for the entire body. You activate practically every muscle in the body, including the legs, core, and arms, while strengthening, enduring, and coordinating the movement by keeping the weight over your head the entire time. This exercise combines each body component as you rise from a lying position to a standing one.

Kettlebell Figure 8

The kettlebell figure 8 exercise is excellent for strengthening the core, especially the obliques, balance, and coordination. The goal is to switch the weight from hand to hand as you move the weight in a figure-8 pattern around both legs.

Russian Twist

A Russian twist is a terrific approach to training the obliques and other tiny rotation-related muscles in the core and upper body while rotating dynamically. This motion can also be performed on an exercise ball.

Two Arm Swing

The two-arm swing gains a new dimension with the alternating swing, which tests your balance and coordination as you switch the weight from one hand to the other. The most crucial thing to remember is to change the weight when the kettlebell feels weightless at the apex of the swing. Switching hands at the bottom of the swing is uncomfortable, and you’ll probably wind up dropping the weight.

Alternating Swing

As you switch the weight from one hand to the other, the alternating swing gives the two-arm swing a new dimension and tests your balance and coordination. The most crucial thing to remember is to switch the weight when the kettlebell feels weightless at the apex of the swing. Trying to change hands at the bottom of the swing is uncomfortable, and you’ll probably wind up dropping the weight.

One Arm Swings

Kettlebell one-arm swings are significantly harder on your entire body than two-arm swings but function similarly. Like the two-arm swing, you’ll use the strength of your hips to engage your core, lower body, and arms. However, you’ll also need a solid grip to hold the weight securely.

One Arm Pull

The one-arm pull with a kettlebell is a unilateral exercise that targets the muscles of the upper back, arms, and core. Holding a kettlebell in one hand, the individual pulls it towards their hip while maintaining a stable and engaged core, promoting unilateral strength and balance.

High Pull

Another vigorous kettlebell workout that targets the entire body, including the hips, core, shoulders, and arms, is the high pull. Mastering this, you can advance to other kettlebell workouts like the clean and snatch. In this method, the weight is swung while the hips are thrust upward to lift the weight. You bend your elbow and raise your arm slightly higher and backward at the movement’s top.

Two Arm Pull

This workout is similar to an upright row but adds a dynamic element by utilizing the increased hip power. The goal is to drag the kettlebell up close to your body while pushing the hips up, using that strength to assist you in lifting the weight.


The kettlebell clean is a classic workout that enables lifting a heavy weight to shoulder level without injuring yourself. If you can master this exercise, you can perform other kettlebell workouts like the overhead press or the clean, push, and press. The key to this motion is turning the shoulder such that the weight rests at shoulder level while driving the weight up with the assistance of the hips and legs.

Can Kettlebells Replace Cardio?

Yes, kettlebells can replace cardio. They offer a method for combining strength training and cardio exercise into one.

Kettlebells are an efficient kind of exercise for a variety of reasons. The component of metabolic conditioning is the one we will concentrate on in this piece. Kettlebell exercises can raise heart rate as much as a conventional cardio workout. The weight of the kettlebell also adds to the exercise. Suddenly, you may do a cardio workout to build muscle.

Dumbbells are comparable to kettlebells. It is different and is a cast iron ball with a handle. Exercise combinations for client training can be innovative. They can be used for cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, and other types of training. A Kettlebell cardio workout has countless advantages. Let’s examine these advantages and some tips for using kettlebells for cardiovascular exercise.


Most kettlebell exercises should and can be performed for much longer. You can swing a kettlebell hard and repeatedly. The more repetitions you do, the more like endurance training it is. When doing a set of bench presses, there is a maximum number of reps before reaching muscle exhaustion. 

You can keep pushing out additional reps while using a kettlebell swing. These final few forced reps provide the metabolic conditioning component of the kettlebell cardio workout. Kettlebell swings work a variety of muscles. At the same time, the chest is the primary target of the bench press.


Resistance, high-intensity interval, and kettlebell training can be combined. For instance, the kettlebell goblet squat can be executed swiftly and repeatedly. While continuing to raise your heart rate, the placement enables you to maintain proper form.

Another excellent exercise to boost cardiovascular intensity is the jump squat. You can start doing intervals as your exercise intensity increases. This resembles treadmill cardio or high-intensity interval training.

Functional Movements

Kettlebell training is an excellent option for functional movements, such as a kettlebell snatch. The exercises use multiple muscles, mimicking everyday life. You can improve functional strength and cardio with just one kettlebell.

The functional movement kettlebells promote allows for the activation of more muscle groups. 


Do Kettlebells Count as Cardio?

Yes, kettlebells count as cardio. It keeps you motivated and encourages creativity with each session.

Are Kettlebell Swings Strength or Cardio?

Kettlebell swings are both strength and cardio workouts. Kettlebell swings can help you lose weight, build muscle, and improve your balance, among other things.

Are Kettlebell Swings Enough Cardio?

Yes, kettlebell swings are enough cardio. Kettlebell swings burn more calories per minute than running, although obviously, you can’t swing for as long.

What Type of Training Is Kettlebell?

Kettlebell is a type of strength training. Most kettlebell exercises are great for building strength and muscle mass.

What Kettlebell Exercises Are Cardio?

Cardio kettlebell exercises are kettlebell swing, Russian kettlebell swing, and many more. You must perform full-body motions that engage as many muscles as possible and minimize rest times to maintain cardiovascular kettlebell workouts.

Moving from standing to lying down during some exercises places additional strain on the heart. You must follow kettlebell training over several weeks to progress and make significant results.

Let me know which of these 10 kettlebell exercises is your favorite.

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Vanja Vukas

Student at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education and a hardcore functional training enthusiast. Heavily inspired by Michael Boyle, a strength & conditioning specialist, and by Adam Sinicki, the founder of Bioneer. Vanja believes that transitioning to a movement-based exercise program can drastically improve your fitness, balance out your muscles, and support your current lifestyle.

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