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How many kettlebell swings do you do?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM

I just got a 25 pounder six weeks ago. I have been trying to use it to do HIT, but I would like some feedback on my method. I swing until I can't, then rest 45 seconds and repeat for a total of three times. Right now this looks like 70/40/30 swings and I am breathing ridiculously hard in between. When I read that some people do HIT for 20 minutes, I can't imagine it unless they are taking bigger breaks in between. What I do takes about 5.5 minutes. I do my swings twice a week after lifting weights. I lift on a third day, but do running sprints on that day for HIT.

For reference, I am a 5'1'' 48 year old woman who has recently (5 months ago) given up life-long near-daily distance running.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 30, 2012
at 01:53 AM

how many rounds of tabata do you do?

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on November 30, 2012
at 01:16 AM

I bet your heart rate will get up there fast enough. The first 2 or 3 20-second rounds might seem easy but it gets pretty hard. You could also up the weight.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on November 30, 2012
at 01:14 AM

I don't ever rest for more than a minute, why rest for more? Your heart rate should be close to back to normal after a minute.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 29, 2012
at 06:51 PM

your rest is fine. If you want to take it up another notch, try tabata -- 20 seconds intense swings, 10 second rest for 4 minutes. Then take a 5 minute break and do another round (if you can :) )

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:40 PM

Thank you, I will give your reference a look.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:39 PM

I guess I am doing it as a "sprint" hence for cardio. So my rest length seems okay?

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:38 PM

That is a very impressive improvement.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:33 PM

Thank you for your detailed answer! I might try the 20 second thing though it takes a little while for my heartrate to get up there since it seems like there is a max rep/minute one came get to just with the physics of the swing.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on November 29, 2012
at 01:27 PM

300 / Hour

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5 Answers

1
Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

on November 29, 2012
at 01:49 PM

My workout is 250-280 reps in around 45 minutes, including warm-up & cool down. DO NOT skip these parts of your workout.

I do a variety of exercises... most of them I picked up from this cheap DVD set:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005FRWTSO

Like others have said, form is everything. This is the best advice I received on the matter:

Stand feet shoulder width (a little wider) toes & nose about 1-2 inches from a wall. Squat down & back up. That is proper form for most kettlebell exercises.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:40 PM

Thank you, I will give your reference a look.

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 29, 2012
at 01:49 PM

20 minutes of HIIT probably means much longer breaks. I've done 2-3 sets of kettle ball tabatas with a 5 minute break between sets. That would equal 22 minutes.

The question you have to ask yourself is -- Strength or Cardio?

For cardio what you are doing is great, and total reps are not important it more about pushing your systems.

For strength you will want to increase the weight to a point where you can do max 10-20 reps per set and work to 5 sets.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:39 PM

I guess I am doing it as a "sprint" hence for cardio. So my rest length seems okay?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 30, 2012
at 01:53 AM

how many rounds of tabata do you do?

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on November 30, 2012
at 01:14 AM

I don't ever rest for more than a minute, why rest for more? Your heart rate should be close to back to normal after a minute.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 29, 2012
at 06:51 PM

your rest is fine. If you want to take it up another notch, try tabata -- 20 seconds intense swings, 10 second rest for 4 minutes. Then take a 5 minute break and do another round (if you can :) )

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on November 29, 2012
at 01:17 PM

70 swings in a row is pretty awesome! Be sure to concentrate on your form, get the KB above eye level and pop your hips at the top. However I have found that it's hard to do that many reps without good form. I don't do KB-only workouts much so I am not sure how many I could do, but swinging for 5 minutes straight is pretty impressive. Usually I am doing KB as part of another workout and doing say 10-25 reps or swinging for 30-60 seconds and then taking a break or switching to another exercise. Most HIT workouts include different movements, and doing the same thing for 20 minutes is probably near impossible if you are doing it with sufficient intensity.

There are many kettlebell exercises, and it helps to mix it up to keep it interesting. Two-handed swings, one-handed swings, around-the-body, lunge and pass it through your legs, high pull, one-handed high pull, and snatch are all options (you can find videos of these things). Also Turkish get-ups, Viking press... the list goes on. These each work different muscles and also incorporate agility so I think it's good to do all of these things.

You can also include squats in the mix, for example one of my favorites is to do a two-handed-swing, release the kettlebell, catch it with both hands, do a full squat, at the top of the squat release it again and catch it by the handle, and then do another swing, repeat. At my crossfit gym they call this the "wall ball alternative".

Swinging until you can't and then resting is definitely one way to go, but you can mix it up a little too. For example you can do "Tabata", which means swing for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat, and keep track of the minimum number of reps that you do in any particular round, and try to maximize that. This is usually done in groups of 8, 16, or 24, which means 4, 8, or 12 minutes, which believe me is a good workout.

I do crossfit and many workouts last 15-30 minutes but are varied exercises, for example the KB swings might be part of it but there is also running or other exercises. When I am at home and want a good, quick workout I do: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 KB swings, and 20 sit-ups, and repeat this 10 times. You could also just do swings and run around the block and repeat or something like that.

In terms of weight, you should try to work up to a KB that is 1/4 of your body weight, for me this is 50-55 pounds. It sounds like a lot but everyone can work up to it. At the gym I recently tried a 75 pound KB and it didn't kill me.

I also switched from running to KB and other strength exercises, and the effect was dramatic, I immediately lost 10-15 pounds and got a LOT stronger and leaner. How has your experience been?

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:33 PM

Thank you for your detailed answer! I might try the 20 second thing though it takes a little while for my heartrate to get up there since it seems like there is a max rep/minute one came get to just with the physics of the swing.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on November 30, 2012
at 01:16 AM

I bet your heart rate will get up there fast enough. The first 2 or 3 20-second rounds might seem easy but it gets pretty hard. You could also up the weight.

1
68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 29, 2012
at 12:47 PM

Stay consistent and with good form, your strength with the Kettlebell will improve rapidly. I started about 9 months ago with a 35 lb doing two-arm swings. I'm not doing one-arm swings with a 55 lb kettlebell for sets of 20-25 each.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on November 29, 2012
at 02:38 PM

That is a very impressive improvement.

0
E2db1519690001648433e8109eb2c013

on November 29, 2012
at 11:59 PM

Swings are a great focus, and foundation for further work with kettlebells. Check out Tracy Reifkind's book on the swing, also Tsatsouline's kettlebell books or tapes. Both give good instruction on swing form, from slightly different angles.

Reifkind suggests working up tuo 50% on 50% off timing, e.g. swinging for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds off. With a normal swing pace this will mean sets of 20 swings. You can also do sets of 10 (15 secs on 15 off) oe 30 (45 secs) or 40 (a full minute).

This kind of work can be brought up to 20 minute sessions pretty quickly.

These days, I am working on a brief daily session of swings. starting each set at the top of the minute, I do 5, 10, 15 reps followed by 9 sets of 20. 210 swings in 12 minutes.

Reifkind's blog has LOTS of workout suggestions, look in the archives for ideas: http://tracysfoodandthought.blogspot.com/

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