KettlebellTM training is a relatively ancient form of strength training that has been highly regarded among the Russian military and Eastern European power lifters for many years. Most recently, it has gained popularity among athletic strength coaches and recreationally active individuals as a novel way to enhance functional strength and positively impact cardiovascular endurance. However, to our knowledge this form of training with handheld weights has not been systematically investigated.
The purpose of this pilot study was to assess the energy cost and intensity of a basic KettlebellTM training protocol.
Ten subjects, mean age 30.2 ± 10.6 years, participated in a maximal treadmill test to assess VO2max. Participants subsequently performed 5 sets of 10 repetitions of two-armed swings, snatches, and clean and presses using a 4, 8, 12 or 16 kg KettlebellTM. Metabolic data were collected by a metabolic measurement system. The data were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics.
Training intensity in metabolic equivalents (METS) was 4.9 ± .88. The mean caloric expenditure and oxygen uptake values were 4.97 ± 2.02 kcal/min and 14.25 ± 3.08 ml/kg/min. Total energy expenditure during the session was 297.91 ± 121.13 kcal. Associated heart rate response during the training session was 122.08 ± 21.13 bpm that corresponded to 64.29 ± 11.74% of maximal heart rate. The training intensity relative to VO2max was 32.96 ± .08%.
Although intensity as assessed by heart rate appeared to be high enough to improve cardiovascular fitness pursuant to the ACSM recommendation, the training stimulus of 32% of VO2max was less than the ACSM recommendation of ± 55%. However, a basic KettlebellTM training protocol may be an alternative activity for achieving the Surgeon General's recommended amount (150–200 kcal/day) and intensity (3–6 METS) of physical activity for improving health.