Don’t be a hamster.
I’ve decided any activity that is so utterly unfulfilling that it requires the user to be mentally distracted from the activity itself is one that isn’t worth doing in the first place. If your goal is to stimulate a hormonal response to trigger fat loss and/or enhance your anerobic threshold, in terms of effectiveness, sitting on a stationary bike while watching TV is merely one small step above… well, just sitting and watching TV.
Steady state motion, stride abnormalities, and the mind-body disconnect, are merely a handful of factors working against you and your cardiovascular training when engaged in hamster wheel-like activities. But more critically is the simple fact that once you step off the road-to-nowhere, your calorie burn quickly drops to zero, and in all that time, you’ve done nothing to impact features like strength, balance, and flexibility.
There’s simply not enough hours in the day to subject oneself to a one-dimensional exercise like the treadmill. Wasting time is patently un-peacock.
A common thread across the site is to profile products that provide a collection of ancillary benefits in addition to their primary purpose; synergistic items that display a sublime mix of form and function, style and substance. Well, I recently realized that an activity I’ve been performing regularly of late fits that profile perfectly and so I figured it’d be apropos to share. Without further adieu allow me to introduce: kettlebell fitness.
For those who don’t know, kettlebells are like cannonballs with handles which, when used properly, can exact a powerful stimulus on every muscle you can imagine; quickly, and effectively. Empirical studies show that 20 minutes of kettlebell activity can burn twice as many calories as a half hour on the treadmill and another 30 minutes lifting weights. Swings, dead-lifts, cleans, and jerks, are merely a fraction of the motions and exercises you’ll be engaged in when working with kettlebells and due to the nature of the activity you’ll always be recruiting a series of muscles at any given time while ramping your heart rate WAY up.
Because of the full-body profile, kettlebell workouts can impart a superior cardiovascular tax, provide balance conditioning, and enhance flexibility, while providing high-intensity resistance training which will, in turn, compound the metabolic response because unlike the perpetual stairway, a resistance session will keep those calories burning well after you finish.
Two birds with one stone indeed.
It will require some practice though. When you’re throwing around a 20, 30, 40-pound metal ball, proper form is essential to not only maximize your workout, but to prevent injury. I found YouTube and sites like DragonDoor to be an excellent resource.
Kettlebells have become a staple of the Cross-Fit revolution and rightfully so. They also experienced a considerable boost in popularity when the cast of the blockbuster film ‘300’ conceded that kettlebells played a key role in achieving the body composition required to portray the fabled warriors of Sparta.
I could bore you with anecdotal and peer-reviewed research all day but trust me, if you put in the time, you’ll see the results and you’ll be able to take great satisfaction in knowing that your gains are the direct result of time spent being focused at the task at hand instead of on the wheel, watching the clock, while trying to do anything but.
The ‘Godfather’ of Kettlebells – Steve Cotter gives tips on getting perfect form.