Traditional cardiovascular exercises like running and swimming might be the first things people think of when it comes to weight-loss training, but don't make your way to the treadmill just yet. If you like the idea of a slightly more varied, weights-based workout that still aids fat loss, kettlebell training could be for you. You might be surprised how much weight you can lose swinging a cannonball around the gym.
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When looking at how effective an exercise is for weight loss, the calories it burns is one of the most important factors. Michele Olson, an exercise physiologist at Auburn University at Montgomery, told Fitness magazine that the average 40-minute kettlebell workout burns 400 calories. In terms of weight loss, this means you'd have to complete around six hours of kettlebell training to lose 1 pound, as it takes a calorie burn of 3,500 to lose 1 pound of fat.
Excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption refers to the calories you burn after training due to an increase in metabolic rate. This effect can be fairly pronounced following a kettlebell workout. While you may not be overly impressed with 400 calories burned in 40 minutes, this doesn't take into account the EPOC or after-burn effect of kettlebells. Because it's such hard work, kettlebell training creates an after-burn effect for up to 24 hours after exercise, explains Beth Cordey of KettleGirls.co.uk.
A Matter of Muscle
As a form of resistance training, kettlebells can also be used to build muscle. This can be both a pro and a con when it comes to losing weight. Clearly, excess muscle can increase your weight; however, this muscle can also boost your fat burning. Muscle tissue contributes around 20 percent each day to your total calorie expenditure, note Paige Kinucan and Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. If you're new to kettlebell training, or eating a surplus of calories, you may actually gain weight with kettlebells in the form of increased muscle mass. Despite this not being a drop on the scale, you'll almost undoubtedly look leaner and fitter, even if your weight is up.
How much weight you can lose kettlebell training ultimately comes down to you as an individual and how much work you put in. Don't rely on kettlebell training on its own to shift those pounds. Intense kettlebell circuits can certainly be effective for weight loss, but you have to control your calories too. A healthy rate of weight loss is around 3 pounds per week if you're obese, 2 pounds per week if you're overweight, 1 pound per week for the average person and 0.25 to 0.5 pound per week if you're already lean, writes nutritionist Alan Aragon in "Girth Control."