This study examined the acute hormonal response to kettlebell (KB) swing exercise using two loads but when total work was equalized. Ten strength trained males (25 ± 6 years) completed two KB swing trials, with an eight and 16kg KB respectively, in a counterbalanced order. Each protocol lasted twelve minutes comprising 30 seconds KB swings followed by 30 seconds rest. Swing cadence was manipulated in each trial to ensure total weight lifted was the same across conditions. Heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE), using the Borg RPE scale 6-20, was taken at the end of each 30s exercise period. Saliva samples (min 0.5ml) were taken 15 minutes pre, immediately post and 15 and 30min post each condition from which cortisol (C) and testosterone (T) were determined. Results indicated a significant main effect for load for C (P = 0.007) and T (P = 0.05) where higher values for both C and T were evident for the 16kg load. There was also a significant main effect for time for T (P = 0.001) where T values were all significantly higher post exercise compared to pre. For HR there were significant main effects for load (P = 0.004) and time (P = 0.001) with higher HR seen in 16kg load and significant increases in HR evident with increasing repetition, irrespective of condition (all P< 0.05). RPE values increased with repetition for the 8kg and 16kg loads but the increase was more marked for the 16kg load compared to the 8kg load (P = 0.002). The present findings suggest that KB swing exercise produces an acute increase in hormones involved in muscle adaptation, but that KB load influences this response even when total work completed is the same.
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