How to Do Kettlebell Swings

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The Kettlebell Swing is one of those exercises that seems a lot easier than it actually is; just swing a heavy ball through your legs and into the air.

Simple, right?

Well, you’d be surprised to know that this movement is not only tough to master, but it will leave you sweating, panting, and sore for days to come! You can choose a kettlebell in a variety of sizes and colors, and you can purchase a set so that you’ll have heavier weights for future use, or just one at a time. Or you can get an adjustable kettlebell like the Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell (see on Amazon) that’s one kettlebell adjustable from 8 to 40lbs (see my Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell review here).

If you’re interested in learning more about how to do Kettlebell Swings, keep reading for a tutorial, tips, and sample workouts to get the ball – or bell- rolling!

What Are the Benefits of Using a Kettlebell?

There are numerous benefits to using a kettlebell; one of the most significant is doing a full-body workout using just the kettlebell. You can do various exercises with a kettlebell that fits into the category of cardio and strength training. You’ll be able to burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time due to the level of muscle recruitment needed to execute a kettlebell workout.

Additionally, while you won’t pack on bulky muscle, you will absolutely build lean muscle with a kettlebell workout and be able to sculpt your body while also burning fat. So the kettlebell is both efficient and usable for both beginner and more advanced fitness programs. You will improve your power, speed, endurance, as well as your balance, and stability while using the kettlebell. These factors will also have overlap in other areas of fitness, such as your deadlift and squats.

Can You Do Swings With Dumbbells?

Due to the kettlebell’s design, the weight is more uneven than with a dumbbell, where the weight is equal on both sides. The kettlebell requires that more muscles work together to keep the correct form while also keeping your body balanced and stable throughout the movement. This exercise is unique because it activates nearly 600 muscles (that’s almost every muscle in the body) at once to manage the weight. This is purely because of how the kettlebell is structured.

Like the overhead press or a goblet squat, many other exercises can be done with either the dumbbell or the kettlebell. However, the kettlebell swing cannot be done this way.

The Kettlebell Swing

Before you perform the Kettlebell Swing, you’ll want to know which parts of your body you’re going to work out.

In addition to working these muscles, the kettlebell also improves grip and wrist strength, which is useful in other areas of fitness like the deadlift, pull-ups, and other CrossFit activities.

Suppose you’re looking for an excellent addition to a weight loss regimen. In that case, the Kettlebell Swing works so many muscles at once that it causes you to burn a higher number of calories than you usually would with other cardio activities like running.

Below is a breakdown of what muscles will be used and a sample workout to incorporate into your routine a few times a week.

  • Abs
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Hips
  • Lats

Performing the Kettlebell Swing

When you’re about to do a kettlebell swing workout, make sure you’ve selected the correct weight. For men, the recommended starting point is 16kg (35 lbs) and for women 8kg to 12kg (18-26 lbs). See this article for more in-depth information on what size kettlebell you should buy.

Start by standing about one-foot behind the kettlebell with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Bend your knees slightly and reach out to grab the kettlebell while keeping your spine straight.

Swing the kettlebell back through your legs and thrust your hips as hard as you can to create the momentum that should cause the kettlebell to swing upward until it’s parallel to the ground

Repeat this movement for the specified number of reps.

Pro tip: Make sure your feet aren’t too wide apart, as that can put your knees at risk for injury. You must also use your hips to power the momentum for the swing as opposed to your arms.

How to Incorporate the Swing into Your Workout

If you’re already doing other kettlebell workouts, you can add the following workout just once or twice a week. If this will be your only kettlebell routine throughout the week, then you should aim to do this workout at least three times in the week, four if your body recovers faster.

Double-Handed Swing Plus Push-ups

This Kettlebell Swing workout will have you feeling the burn!

If you can’t do push-ups yet, you can switch them out for high knees (running in place while lifting your knees as high as possible). Either way, you’re sure to increase your metabolism and athletic ability with this workout.

  1. Double-Handed Kettlebell Swing- 25 reps
  2. Standard Push-Ups (or High Knees)- 10 reps for the first set and then reduce by one every time after that
  3. Repeat for 10 sets (a set is the 25 swing reps plus the required number of push-ups)

So you’ll do 25 swing reps and then 10 push-ups. Afterward, you’ll do another 25 reps and 9 push-ups, then another 25 reps, and 8 push-ups, until you arrive at 1 push up.

After this workout, you’ll have completed 250 kettlebell swings and 55 push-ups. If you can do it in 10 minutes or less, you’re a guru!

The Bottom Line on Kettlebell Swings

The Kettlebell Swing is a great exercise to have in your arsenal. As mentioned before, you can get a dose of cardio and strength training in a simple 20-minute workout. The pillars of fitness are power, strength, speed, and endurance, and the Kettlebell Swing will test those pillars and boost your skills in them.

Hopefully, you’ve taken note of the precautionary measures before attempting the kettlebell swing. Always be sure that you start with a lower weight and work your way up.

This is especially important if you’ve never worked with kettlebells before. You can always add more weight if it’s too easy. You don’t want to risk a sudden back injury trying to use a weight that’s more than you can handle for this particular movement.

Good luck!