In a previous article, I discussed why I felt that heavy kettlebellswings should be utilized for athletic strength & conditioning. I mentioned that heavy KB swings would be a great exercise for improving hip power, acceleration, and speed.
Recent high-quality research has shown this to be true in sprinting, that is, the glutes and hamstrings counteract the hip flexion and knee extension torques induced by gravity, motion, and ground reaction (see abstract HERE). Finally, Lake & Lauder showed in an excellent study that KB swings produced a greater impulse (impulse equals force multiplied by time) compared to squats and jump squats, indicating that they may be superior in some regards (see abstract HERE, see larger review of the study HERE).
The gluteus Maximus exhibits the largest peak muscle activation during kettle bell swings. Hopefully in time a study will emerge will a sufficient sample size, but my guess is that the results will be duplicated as it’s common biomechanical sense to me.
For example, if I do swings with 300 lbs, my range of motion (ROM) is compromised, my power output diminishes drastically, and my hip extensors (glutes and mammies) don’t contract as forcefully. If possible (due to equipment availability), I recommend pyramiding loads for swing sets.
If you perform kettlebellswings with the intention of shaping the glutes and hamstrings, make sure you progress over time and use heavier loading. If you’re a beginner, you’ll likely want to first master the kettle bell dead lift and cable pull-through, then the kettle bell dead lift/swing hybrid (click HERE to see this movement), and then finally move onto swings (click HERE to see videos for KB swing form).
I’ve found that advanced women can hold great kettle bell swing form with 48 kg, and advanced men can hold great form with 92 kg. A goal that keeps cropping up with my clients is glute development because people want big, round butts.
Sitting on your glutes for extended periods causes the brain to forget how to activate them. You should be able to flex each cheek as easily as you can tap your big toe while your hamstrings remain completely relaxed.
Sitting in chairs for extended periods, for years on end, pulls the pelvis into a posterior tilt. This means that in normal posture, the tail bone is a little tucked under and the lower back is flatter than optimal.
People with this posture type almost always have an underdeveloped butt because when the pelvis is in this position the hamstrings will always cheat the glutes out of a job. Optimally, the neck should flex first (to look at the object you’re picking up, say), then the hips, then the mid-back (thoracic spine) and only then, if the everyday task demands it would the lower back go into noticeable flexion×.
When the lower back is first to flex, for the many times per day that you bend over, excessive compression of the lumbar disks is caused. The glutes are required for locomotive activities such as running, but the overactive hamstrings become the prime movers therefore become very partial to injury.
Before I’m criticized for suggesting that we’re supposed to bend like stiff robots, I want to clarify that all joints of the spine and hips flex a little to initiate all everyday bending or hinging patterns. Whereas, for optimal safe movement, most of the flexion should come from the hips and thoracic spine, first.
In a training environment (with exercises such as dead lifts and swings) flexing from the lower back first leads to disc damage. When a lower back flexes and rotates that’s like the perfect storm for lumbar disc injury.
Here’s an excerpt from a tongue-in-cheek section within a strength coaching manual I once wrote for a well-known fitness education company: “The posterior chain is meant to work synergistically and in unison with the other ten (or so) myocardial lines.
Teaching one chain of fascia to work hard while the rest remain dormant is a violation of common sense. Isolating the lower back, glutes and hamstrings while the feet are strapped in causes a neurological misfiring and a detriment to human movement.
Patterning multiple reps of lumbar flexion eccentrically controlled by the lower back, especially for the chair-bound masses could very well lead to bulging disks in the future. If the world changes and there’s suddenly a daily requirement for everyday people to hang over the side of a boat with a friend holding their feet and repeatedly pick penguins out of the water, our opinion on the functionality of the God will stay the same.
Hold the kettle bell by the horns and rest your wrists on your pelvis so the hips (glutes) do the work. The lower back is made up mostly of tonic, stability muscles that like to hold gentle isometric (same length) contractions all day long.
They hold the vulnerable lower back in place while the powerful hips drive movement. If these are asked to lengthen and shorten to create movement for the entire body injury tends to occur.
Glutes, on the other hand, are physic prime mover muscles that like to produce powerful contractions for very short periods. Because that’s the pattern they’ve taught their nervous system by spending too long in a chair.
The pendulum swing also involves rotating at the bottom then scooping the knees forward. This sends the kettle bell in an upward trajectory (required for the sport) and makes torso rotation, quads and hamstrings the main drivers for the movement, instead of the glutes.
Aside from loosely hooking the kettle bell, the arm and shoulder plays no part in the upswing. At the top of every swing, stand as tall as can be and clench your butt, quads and hamstrings hard.
The snatch is a swing, but the kettle bell ends in the overhead position instead of floating to chest height. The most common problems with peoples’ snatches are: hip hinge too shallow, rotation is allowed, lack of shoulder ability to own the overhead position, hook-grip too weak to catch the falling kettle bell.
It doesn’t take many glute swings, even with a light load, to make your butt feel like it’s about to explode. The glute swing is one of the hardest of all exercises to perform safely because the risk of the swinger’s lower back flexing is so high.
Lumbar flexion not only makes this dangerous, but ineffective because the lower back and hamstrings become the main drivers instead of the glutes. During hinge exercises where torso rotation is involved it’s critical for the lumbar spine to remain in a sagittal neutral position.
When the lumbar spine flexes, these articular processes drift apart and rotation is allowed to occur. Super simple and accessible, provided there’s a basic level of hip mobility in place.
A high-value exercise that develops stable shoulders, a mobile mid-back, a strong torso as well as working the glutes and patterning a good hip hinge. Plantar flexing the back ankle allows more range of motion for the hip therefore gets into the glute more.
The fact that the other hip is extended helps keep an optimal pelvic posture for hitting the glute. Exhale: keeping your body upright, drive your front heel down without using the back foot for help.
Firing up the glutes reciprocally inhibits the hip flexors, which are usually super tight on most people. Learn to do the kettle bell swing properly to build and tone your butt.
People who do a lot of kettlebellswings and similar exercises are renowned for having nice sexy butts. All you need to do is a search for women’s or men’s favorite body parts and the butt shows up on both lists… near the top.
The kettle bell swing is amazing for developing a sexy toned butt but if done wrong will not only prevent results but can potentially irritate your low back. Little fire hydrant leg lifts or Brazilian butt whatever just won’t cut it.
Tiny little kettle bell movements that you may have seen on late night TV simply won’t cut it. After the kettle bell reaches the top position as it starts to swing back… wait… keep waiting… don’t sit back (hike pass) yet.
You could also just think “wait till your arms connect to your ribs” before you hike pass. If the kettle bell leads the way before your hips snap / glutes contract then you are missing out on all that wonderful butt toning.
Just like a crane with a wrecking ball, the crane swings and then the wrecking ball gets pulled, your hips should snap forward first and that will pull the kettle bell forward from your hike pass position. As mentioned before you need fairly heavy weight to challenge the butt.
The kettle bell swing uses a lot of muscles, this is a good and a bad thing. Over time, you will be able to feel the entire glute region activating.
2 – 3 days per week, sets of 20 – 30 reps, brief rest breaks, for about 4 – 10 minutes. For a minimal investment of your time you can build up and tone up your butt to make the guy’s and/or ladies’s heads turn.
I must admit, I had a pretty low opinion of this exercise when I first saw it, mainly because I thought that it couldn’t be good for the back and that the risk of injury was probably high as the movement involves using inertia (and with poor form this could go wrong pretty quickly). If you’re just learning, start with a lighter weight as this will allow more room for error without injury, until you get the hang of the move.
Exercise: Two-handed kettle bell swing Muscles worked: Quads, Glutes, back, arms, plus cardio. Point your toes slightly outwards and keep the weight in your heels.
Keeping your spine in a neutral position and core tight, hinge forward at the hips with your knees slightly bent and reach down to pick up the kettle bell between your feet. At this time, you need to sit back with your hips, with a slight bend in the knees.
Keeping your arms straight, ‘snap’ up by driving your hips up and forwards to swing the kettle bell up in front of you. Repeat alternating between ‘hike’ and ‘snap’, being sure to have your breathing match your movement.
Watch the video above if you haven’t already, to make sure you are doing the movement correctly! Perfecting Your Form Keep the abdominal engaged throughout the exercise with a neutral spine position in order to protect your back.
Sit backwards in the downward motion, whilst maintaining your balance and the inertia of the kettle bell. Really squeeze the glutes in a forward thrusting motion to ‘pop’ the kettle bell up towards the high part of the swing.
Here are 3 importance reasons why you should always focus on your buttocks or glutes above every other part of the body: The glutes are the largest muscles in the body, the clue is in the name, the Gluteus Maximus.
Huge muscles like the glutes require a lot of energy to work and maintain operations. Exercising and developing the glutes burns a large amount of calories both during and after workouts.
I’ve listed the following buttock exercises down in order of difficulty so you should become proficient with each one before moving on to the next. I’ve also included a Kettle bell butt workout for you at the bottom of this article.
This is the simplest of buttock exercises but you can make it as hard or as easy as you wish by increasing the weight. This exercise can be a little tricky but it is very important for developing coordination between your core, glutes and back.
A classic full body movement that is essential for developing the glutes. It is essential that you squat so that your knees bend a full 90 degrees otherwise you are putting more of the focus on your thighs than your glutes.
Top tip : keep your weight back on your heels and prevent your knees from caving inwards. The kneeling lunge teaches you to activate your glutes correctly by forcing a 90-degree angle at the knee.
Practice on a mat or padded floor and start without a weight just to get used to the movement. Lunges are tough if performed correctly and will hit your glutes very hard.
Working your glutes is the most important muscle group that you can focus your energy upon. Getting straight to your buttocks or glutes during your workouts will ensure that you burn the most amount of calories, improve your movement skills and protect yourself from and help eliminate back pain.
Whether you’re interested in busting through plateaus, strengthening underutilized muscles, or improving your conditioning so you can last longer in your heavy training sessions, kettle bells are the way to go. With the ballistic nature of so many kettle bell movements, combined with the odd shape that will fire your stabilizer muscles like little else, kettle bells will allow you to refine the kind of explosive strength you’ll need to lock out your dead lift and come out of the hole in your squat.
The proper form for hip extension (and subsequent massive glute strength) is key for swings, which are a staple of most kettle bell workouts, including the ones below. The three choices below all emphasize a different goal, but all will also build powerful glutes that can help unstick your toughest dead lifting and squat plateaus.
You’ve only got thirty seconds per side here, but you want to focus on quality rather than rep quantity. Keep your shoulder packed at all times, and make eye contact with the bell, always.
So keeping your form super strict here will be wonderful for your glutes (and the rest of your body, too). They’re the same as a regular kettle bell swing, except you will finish each rep by letting the bell come to a full (“dead”) stop on the ground in front of you.
To be clear: set up with the bell a foot or two in front of you, hinge to grasp it, use your hips to swing it back behind you between your legs, use your hip snap to bring the bell up to chest level, let it swing back down between your legs, and then, instead of bringing it up again, let it go from between your legs to the ground in front of you. This dead stop will kill the momentum between each swing, requiring you to recruit even more energy to blast off each time.
To avoid the infamous forearm flop, make sure your motion is… well… clean. Keep your arm locked close to your rib cage throughout the motion, so that when you thread your hand up and through so that the bell transitions to resting on your forearm in rack position, it won’t leave you with bruises.
If you want an extra challenge, move directly into your swings with the bells still in your hands. Rotate your wrists so your palms are facing each other, widen your stance, and get into your double bell swings.
Make sure you’re breathing and pressing down into your toes so that your feet stay stable and balanced throughout the movement. Working unilateral moves will help even those imbalances out (and give you stronger glutes overall, so really, everybody wins).
In fact, many people should probably avoid that with this move (unless you have absurdly flexible hamstrings, all the more power to you). Feel free to stop descending when the bell dips below your knee, and keep it slow and steady as you’re standing back up.
Your stabilizer muscles and glutes won’t like you very much, but they will definitely benefit from the extra time under tension and strict attention to form. And sit into the side lunge with your knee thigh comfortably hitting parallel (or below) to the ground.
Experiment with finding your own personal sweet spot before racking your weight. If you’re looking for to use a variety of kettle bell training styles, want to improve your work capacity while strength training, or just generally subscribe to the idea that “both is good,” you might want to try a hybrid workout that combines conditioning and lifting.
Make sure your form stays excellent throughout, and that momentum from your swings don’t translate into your slower, steadier lifts. Make sure you take the time to set up this lift, finding your proper footing before you dive in.
Exhale with each hip snap, keeping your core tight throughout (and again, just say no to hyper extension). Nina Take/Shutterstock Using kettle bells to make your glutes that much more powerful is a great way to add variety to your training.
Adding these kettle bell accessory movements to your regularly scheduled programming will add an element of power and instability (in the positive, muscle-building sense) that will translate into improved squat and dead numbers. But, in the last decade or so, they’ve seen a resurgence in popularity, not least because they are a part of so many CrossFit workouts.
Of all the exercises you can do with a kettle bell, the swing is arguably the most popular and may even be the most valuable. Many fitness enthusiasts believe that squats and dead lifts are the kings of exercise.
But Tim Ferris says “the two armed kettle bell swing is the king and is all you need for dramatic body recomposition results”. This post will reveal the main kettle bell swing benefits and how to do them correctly.
It takes time to master the kettle bell swing, but once you’ve got it nailed, this exercise has a wide range of benefits. These muscles are crucial for better posture, as well as improved sports performance.
Increased cardiovascular fitness Kettle bell swing training is excellent for your heart and lungs, as well as your muscles. Because they are a full-body movement, kettlebellswings will drive your heart and breathing rate sky-high, which makes them a beneficial and challenging cardiovascular exercise.
Better posture Kettlebellswings are one of the best exercises for undoing the effects of prolonged sitting. Swings work your posterior chain, which are the muscles responsible for holding you upright against the pull of gravity.
Because kettlebellswings involve so many muscles and joints working together and at the same time, there’s a lot that can go wrong with this exercise. But, if you master a proper kettle bell swing, you can enjoy all the benefits this exercise has to offer while avoiding all the risks.
Standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs. Focus on your hip drive to pop the kettle bell upwards, not your arms.
Use your lats and abs to stop the weight swinging upward and then let the kettle bell fall back down. Russian kettlebellswings generally allow you to lift more weight, and they are easier to learn.
However, it’s all too easy to inadvertently shorten your rep range by not swinging the weight high enough, i.e., below shoulder-height. They involve a more extensive range of motion, which could make them more demanding.
Swinging the weight up until the arms are vertical ensures that each rep is the same, making them easier to judge and quantify. However, raising the weight so high will increase stress on the lower back, which could lead to injury.
The increased range of movement also means you won’t be able to lift as much weight. But, unless you are training for CrossFit competitions, the Russian swing is potentially the safer one, which may mean it’s the best choice for most exercisers.
As recommended by the American Council on Exercise, ACE for short, this kettle bell workout is best done three times a week on non-consecutive days, e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. With this workout, you do a set of kettlebellswings at the start of each minute, and whatever time is left over is for resting.
You can also use any kettle bell swing alternative you prefer for this workout, including: *Note: kettle bells are popular home workout gear, and some items are not yet back in stock, so you might need to be preordered.
AmazonBasics Vinyl Coated Cast Iron Kettle bell Weight With the Noose Fitness Kettle bell Handle, you can add as many or as few standard weight plates as you like, making it both ideal for a range of users and also saving you from buying several sets of kettle bells.
Whether you want to burn fat, get fit, or boost your dead lift performance, kettlebellswings will help. Remember, to get the most from this exercise; you need to do them correctly and give yourself time to recover between workouts.
With kettle bells, basically every move is all about the hips, so it’s not shocker that they’re a great tool for boosting the glutes. “Due to the versatility of the handle and how the weight is distributed, kettle bells add another dimension to weight lifting: the need to counterbalance, which improves stability and balance, particularly in the glutes,” says Lisa Reed, CSS, a Hard style Kettle bell Certified instructor and owner of Lisa Reed Fitness.
“The kettle bell can be hiked back to load the glutes with as much resistance as a dead lift, plus you can rep consecutively without interruption because of the kettle bell ’s nature,” says Paul Vivaria, a personal trainer and Russian Kettle bell certified instructor at New York Health & Racquet Club. These workouts, designed by Vivaria and Reed, use kettle bells along with traditional lifts and plyometric moves for the most, ahem, well-rounded glute-strengthening results.
Do 10 reps of each exercise in the workout at a lighter weight In today’s world we spend the majority of our days doing things in front of us with terrible posture.
This overuse of the muscles on the front side of our bodies is called “anterior dominance” and it is plaguing our society. Anterior dominance results in imbalances in our muscles causing us to move and perform at sub-optimal levels.
It will allow you to loosen your tight hips and strengthen your butt so that you’ll develop the rear end of an athlete. It will bulletproof your low back by creating an armored brace around your midsection, and it will get rid of that paunchy gut.
Push your hips back keeping your butt high and bend your knees slightly. Always making sure your shoulders stay above the level of your hips, “hike pass” the kettle bell through your knees by contracting your lats.
When you push your hips back keeping your butt high and your shins vertical, you are hinging. This is good because most people today are hip flexor and quad dominant (your anterior muscles), so learning how to load and use your posterior chain creates a natural balance between front and back that will help in preventing knee and hip issues.
Imagine that you are growing roots through your feet and grab the ground with your entire foot. Getting proper instruction from an expert so that you can MASTER THE KETTLEBELL SWING is the best thing that you can do for your training regardless of your goal.
If you want to build strength, kettlebellswings will forge a grip of steel and will add pounds to your dead lift & squat. If you want to boost your athleticism, kettlebellswings will make you more powerful and add height to your jump and shave seconds off your sprints.
If you want to pack on muscle, swinging a heavy kettle bell will build an intimidating upper back & set of shoulders. And if you want to shed body fat, swings will incinerate blubber like butter melting in an iron pan.
Heck, even I do, but (no pun intended) mostly for performance purposes like jumping higher and having greater overall strength and power. Plus, your glutes play a crucial role in supporting your lower back.
If you choose to add these 19 glute exercises into your workouts, your lower body will have better shape and be able to produce more power (which is good for overall performance). I’ll even give you a few different glute workout ideas to help you do just that… so keep reading.
Before jumping into these workouts, I feel it’s my duty to help you understand how the glutes actually work. The reason it’s so large and powerful is because it has the job of keeping your torso in an erect posture.
As its name implies, it is the largest and most superficial (closest to the surface) of the 3 gluteal muscles. Another way of thinking about this is bringing the torso upright after being hinged forward.
Think of a kettle bell swing and you’ll get a good visual for the major action of the gluteus Maximus muscle. Hip extension is also prominent during dead lifts, the push-off in sprinting (and skating), and simply extending the thigh backward in any leg swing type of activity (i.e.
Additionally, the gluteus medium (and minimum) work to abduct the thigh (move it away from the body). This is smallest of the 3 gluteal muscles and it’s situated immediately beneath the gluteus medium.
This graph shows the results along with other notable glute exercises (already mentioned in our list here): (1) How to do it: Get on your hands and knees, keep your back neutral, and abs braced.
To make this exercise harder, add ankle weights, hold a light dumbbell behind the knee, or use a quadruped hip extension if your gym has one. Famed spine mechanism, Dr. Stuart McGill, has shown that kettlebellswings is not only an amazing workout for activating the gluteus Maximus, but they’re also one of the safest exercises you can do because they impose little to no stress on your back.
How to do it: With your back flat and core engaged, lean forward and place both hands on the kettle bell. Maintain a slight bend to the knee and drive the hips back.
Then, in a fluid motion, explosively drive the hips forward while swinging the kettle bell, keeping the glutes and core engaged. The motion should come from the hips, not the arms nor the quads (this isn’t a squat), as the body returns to standing.
Lower the weight back down between the legs and keep this swinging motion going for desired reps. A study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed that compared to partial-and parallel-depth squats, a deep squat provide far greater activation of the gluteus Maximus, especially in the pushing (concentric) phase.
These makes sense… since the deeper you go (assuming good form with no pelvic tilt) the more you stretch, and thus activate, your glutes. Squats that only go part of the way tend to be more reliant on the muscles of the quads, not the glutes.
Brace your abs and lower your bum back and down (as if sitting into a chair) keeping the weight in your heels and go below parallel as long as your back stays straight through the entire range of motion. Obviously, you need to focus on doing it right because it can cause serious damage if you do it to failure (thanks CrossFit) or with poor form.
Bend at the hip to grip the bar at shoulder width and ensure that your back is flat and core is braced. Lower your hips and flex the knees, keep your chest up and your back flat, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward.
Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor, ensuring that it stays close to your body to reduce any excess load on your low back. These guys are different from traditional dead lifts in that your legs are more or less fixed throughout the lift.
Your knees are slightly bent, but this is mostly a “pulling” exercise initiated by the hamstrings and glutes. It likely is more focused on your hamstrings, but they need to be strong as well to make you a stronger and more shapely human.
How to do it: Hold a bar at hip level with a pronated (palms facing down) grip. Keep the bar close to your body, your head looking forward, and your shoulders back.
At the bottom of the movement, squeeze your glutes and pull with your hamstrings to drive your hips forward to stand up tall. Execute the movement by driving through the heel of your right food, extending your hip upward and raising your butt off of the ground.
It elicits much more muscle activity in the gluteus Maximus as a barbell squat or dead lift and that’s primarily because 4 unique characteristics of this exercise: Begin the movement by driving through your heels, extending your hips upwards through the bar.
Face the weight stack from a distance of about two feet, grasping the frame for support. Keep your knees and hips bent slightly and your abs tight, contract your right glutes to kickback the leg.
Slowly bring your working leg forward, resisting the pull of the cable until you reach the starting position. To hit a different set of glute fibers, externally rotate your leg (toes out) and kickback.
Stand lunge-length in front of a bench making sure your knee does not extend past your toes. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest the top of your left foot on the bench behind you.
One of the goals with glute training is to ensure you’re doing the best exercises that maximally activate your butt and NOT the TFL. But good news: a study in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy revealed that, along with quadruped hip extension and bridging, the “clam” is one of the best glute exercises for getting maximal gluteus medium activation with minimal TFL involvement.
Now, you might get some funny looks by others when you do this but who cares… they have no idea how beneficial this exercise is for strengthening your gluteus medium and minimum. Make sure one hip is lying above the other so your knees are stacked perfectly and your feet are aligned with your back.
Now, float the upper leg upwards while keeping your feet in contact with one another, then return. A lot of people cave their knees when squatting which is a big warning sign for potential problems including ACL tears, especially in women.
How to do it: Place a small resistance band loop around your legs, just above your knees. Stand chest proud and head facing forward and keep your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart so that you feel the tension in the band.
Brace your abs and lower your bum back and down (as if sitting into a chair) keeping the weight in your heels and sink down into your squat. Keep tension against the band using your glutes so that your knees stay parallel the whole way through.
It’s pretty challenging and you’ll definitely notice discrepancies between sides. How to do it: Lie on your left side and position yourself so that your bottom forearm is directly under your armpit and your legs are straight with feet stacked.
Brace your core and lift your hips in the air, forming a straight line from ankles to shoulders. The easiest way to think about this exercise is to picture a zombie moving sideways.
Stand as tall as possible and hold that end position for 2-3 seconds before repeating. This entire exercise is about “sticking” the knee drive hold at the end, so don’t rush through it.
But don’t worry, do a few circles or speed them up (while under control) and you’ll see why they’re included here. With your right leg straight and slightly off the floor, perform small circles (from the hip) in front, to the side, and then behind you.
It’s a great exercise for this muscle firing pattern and to get your glutes working hard. How to do it: The ball should be under your head and shoulders and feel like a pillow, while your arms are outstretched to the side and fully engaged/contracted.
As with all of this stability ball exercises the key with this one is to ensure that your hips are up and your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. As you move laterally a few inches to the left, you’ll instantly feel your right glute contract big time.
Note : RM = “repetition max”, which means choose a weight that only allows you to do the number of reps suggested Instead, challenge yourself to lift heavier with fewer reps and excellent form.
This workout is designed for those (I guess, mostly women) who want shapely glutes that are firm to the touch and fit beautifully into any pair of jeans. I’ve also labeled it as being beneficial for bulletproofing your back because that’s what happens when you get your glutes (all of 3 of them) firing properly.
Remember, your glutes are the “abs of your back” so the healthier they are, the better off you’ll be, especially if you sit on your butt all day. You could be a hero to your friends helping them go from “saggy or flat bum” to feeling proud of what they see in the mirror.