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A cardio-hater’s quest to leanness

Like most girls out there, I would like to feel as beautiful as I can be on my wedding day. I understand that everyone has a different ideal shape, and for me, that means looking leaner than I am now i.e. strong and lean enough to see pretty abs and toned muscles everywhereeee. ? This has not been easy given my preferred form of exercise is low-rep heavy lifting and avoiding all forms of cardio. While I was squatting and benching heavier each week and swelling with pride as I did so, eventually I had to admit that it really wasn’t taking me closer to my ultimate goal and time was ticking down.

I knew cardio was key for fat loss, and I’d tried them all – running, cross-training, rowing, biking… with and without a good movie on – but for someone as impatient as myself, moving my limbs repeatedly in the same motion for even ten minutes was doing my head in; I tried Kayla Itsines‘ popular BBG workouts for weeks too and nope, not for me. Pushing myself to do these sorts of workouts while hating every minute of them was contradicting my belief that the best workout is the one that you like.

Long story cut short, I’ve experimented, trialled and erred, and in the past few months have created some fun strength routines┬áthat I enjoy (yay!) into my usual training. So far, I have lost 4-5 kg (quite a lot at my size) while retaining most of my strength. Part of it is due to an improved diet, which I may write about sometime, but I would also attribute much of the progress to doing new workouts that challenge myself and push up the heart rate.

For those interested, this was the first kettlebell HIIT workout I did a few weeks ago, though it could also be done with dumbbells. By the end of it I was well and truly brutalised and endured that sweet muscle soreness in the days after.

Full body kettlebell workout

Suitable for gym or home. The workout duration and weight of the kettlebells/dumbbells are flexible and simply dependent on the level of challenge desired.

For the first round, start with 5 repetitions of each exercise with no rest in between each set. At the end of the round, rest no more than 2 minutes. The second round involves 6 repetitions of each exercise, going up to 7, 8, 9… reps for each round. Do as many rounds as you like!

Instead of explaining each exercise and the proper form, I will let the experts cover that.

1. Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing engages legs, glutes, back, shoulders and core.

Source: How to Do the Perfect Kettlebell Swing

2. Kettlebell Goblet Squat

For the glutes and legs. See – Goblet Squat

3. Kettlebell High Pull

Arms and shoulders.

Source: 10 Best Kettlebell Exercises And Their Benefits

4. Push up

For the chest mainly, but also works the triceps and core. For an easier alternative, drop the knees for knee push ups.

5. Alternating Renegade Rows

For the back and abs. I chose to do this with dumbbells because I couldn’t find two kettlebells for the weight I wanted at my gym, but this could definitely be done with either dumbbells or kettlebells. Row both sides for each rep. See – Alternating Renegade Row


After 7 rounds (up to 11 reps), I chose to finish up with other abs exercises for some extra burn. Unlike traditional cardio, this killed me in a way that made me feel strong and incredibly accomplished. The following week, I was back onto kettlebells again and switched up a couple of things for a new pyramid HIIT circuit which was again plenty of fun. Now I just need to find new ways to keep things fun going forward if I want to see continued progress – that is a challenge in and of itself because of how picky I am. So feel free to dump me with ideas!

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