Many people want to know the answer after stepping from the good old cardio treadmill world into the world of kettlebells. Because, after all, if 10 minutes of swinging doesn’t burn any more than 10 minutes on a treadmill, it’s not worth it. Before I go any further, please note that if you are looking for an article that will give you the answer to the quick hokum question, this is not it.
In this article, I will go into more detail and explain how to calculate calories burned. I will approach it from the perspective of burning calories to reduce fat. If you really want to know how many calories you burn with kettlebell swings, sit back and read on.
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How many calories do you burn with kettlebell swings?
First, what is the kettlebell swing? Because there are so many variations. We all know that exercise requires more muscle and burns more calories.
Second, the intensity of the exercise has a significant impact on the calories burned.
Third, how many kilograms are you swinging? Because swinging a 4 kg kettlebell at low intensity is like sitting on the couch with your hands in your pants like Al Bundy watching reruns of “Married With Children”! Third, the way you swing your body weight also has a big impact on the calories you burn. And that’s not all.
It’s confusing when you see an article about how many calories kettlebell swings burn and the simple answer is that kettlebell swings burn 400 calories in 20 minutes.
Here are the main variables in determining calorie consumption.
- Basal metabolic rate
- Thermal effects of food
- Daily activity (lifestyle)
- Gender (male/female)
- Body type (thin/average/athletic/obese/other)
The specifics of the exercise must also be considered; for example, in the case of swinging, it can be broken down as follows
- Strength and speed
- Resistance (weight used)
- swing type
- Training style (strength, endurance, interval)
Let me explain the above in more detail. Intensity is determined by the speed of the swing; you can swing slowly with no effort on your legs, or you can swing with maximum speed and intensity.
Training in the hip style will strengthen the posterior chain muscles, training in the squat style will emphasize the anterior chain muscles, and training in the sport style will cause the least resistance and therefore the least emphasis on the muscles – we are talking about comparing styles, not weight.
There are many styles of training: heavy kettlebells (90% 1RM) for 2 reps per minute for strength, medium weight kettlebells (60% 1RM) as much as possible for endurance, Tabata style with no bell for 20 and 10 seconds, and bell for the other intervals, etc. They all have different effects, but you swing the kettlebell.
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Calorie counting is not an exact science, it is mostly based on guesswork, and unless you are in a highly controlled environment, you will never get a 100% correct answer. To that end, I will elaborate for you so you understand what is going on and can make more informed guesses.
You need to know that the total calories consumed are made up of four components: basal metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, lifestyle, and MET – the latter of which I will discuss later. What is a calorie? A calorie is a unit of measurement that represents the amount of energy that food provides to the body. If you continue to consume more calories than you need, you will increase fat stores in your body, leading to excess fat and obesity.
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How exactly do we consume calories? Bring it up and light a match:
It would be great if you could do that. To burn calories to lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume, creating a calorie deficit. When you are lying in bed, relaxing and doing nothing, your body is already burning calories, but it is using energy to maintain vital functions such as pumping blood, vital cell activity, maintaining body temperature, and breathing.
On average, BMR accounts for 60-75% of daily calories consumed, which is quite high, but it is important to note that the higher the lean body mass, i.e., the less fat, the higher the calories consumed at rest. You may think, “I can reduce my calorie intake by going on a hunger strike,” but this is also not recommended because it will reduce your metabolic rate. The long-term solution requires a healthy, sustainable diet and exercise.
If you are good at math, as I am, you would have calculated that there are 40-25% of calories left after taking into account the MBR. The great thing is that you can subtract another 10% (or so) to account for the thermal effects of food: digestion, absorption, storage, and utilization.
Great, only another 30-15% or so to sort out. This is where daily activity comes in. The amount depends on how active you are in your life. In other words, if you lead a rather inactive life, sitting in front of the TV or computer all day, you will expend less energy than you use. Not so, on the contrary, you want to do more than the minimum to burn fat.
Of course, otherwise, you wouldn’t need to know how many calories the kettlebell swing consumes.
There are two calorie consumption equations to help you get an idea of how many calories you are burning during exercise. Use the Harris-Benedict method, which is ideal for the average body type but does not take into account lean body mass or obesity.
First, calculate your BMR using one of the following Calculators Here.
We have already mentioned that MET stands for Metabolic Equivalent of Task. It is a measurement of energy expenditure for physical activity. For example, light walking has a MET value of 3.0, jumping rope has a MET value of 10.0, etc. A two-arm kettlebell swing has a MET value of 9.8. However, visitors to this site are well aware that these are just numbers and do not apply in all cases. The MET value for exercise is multiplied by the BMR per hour.
So, if your daily BMR is 2400 calories, your hourly BMR would be 100, which multiplied by the MET value of 7 for exercise would mean you are burning 700 calories per hour.
These are examples only and do not represent actual values. The formula is intended to give you an idea of how many calories you are consuming during exercise.
However, you may have noticed that it does not take into account all the factors mentioned earlier, such as exact intensity and resistance. That is because the formula becomes too complicated with all the different variables. If you want to maximize your calorie burn, it is important to build toned muscles, exercise at the right intensity resistance, for the right amount of time, and with the right load.
Let’s do the actual math with my own data. My BMR is 1880, which is 78 per hour, and multiplying this by the MET value of 9.8 for kettlebell swings means that I burn 768 calories per hour. That’s fine, but if I only did 30 minutes of Tabata, does that mean that I only burned 384 calories for that effort! Fortunately, not only that, there is the afterburn effect (EPOC). I’ve seen many numbers and some believe that 95% of the caloric cost occurs after exercise. Whatever the number, I’m glad to see this benefit of shorter, more intense workouts, less time, and better results.
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If you want to calculate your total daily calorie needs, you need to multiply your BMR by one of the following numbers that apply to your lifestyle
- sedentary = BMR x 1.2
- not very active = BMR x 1.375
- moderate activity = BMR x 1.55
- very active = BMR x 1.725
- very active = BMR x 1.9
How Many Calories Do Kettlebell Swings Burn | Video Explanation
However, trying to calculate calories for fat loss is tedious for me, as I have to keep track of what I consume, apply formulas, and use online calculators to eliminate calorie deficits. I think the best way to get the most out of your workout is to eat healthy, to feed your body not your brain, to eat the right amount of food, and to follow the safest, hardest, most progressive, and most effective training programs out there.
No matter what happens, you are already doing the best you can, so there is no need to start measuring things. If you train hard, you need nutritional support for recovery. Still, you don’t need to count what you eat; you need to listen to how you feel and what you are seeing. Use the gray area wisely.
If you want to know how to burn the most calories using kettlebells, we recommend using heavy (but safe) weights and performing an interval routine using fast, explosive, maximum effort movements for 10-14 minutes, with intervals of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. If longer training is a requirement, then just train longer.
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Hi, I am Matt Storace and I am a former personal trainer and founder of Beast Biceps. We had to find ways to train at home. When I started looking for the equipment I needed, I quickly realized that there were no good resources online. So I created Beast Biceps. It is a treasure trove of information developed from my experience and research. Read More Here