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Do Kettlebell Swings Work Your Glutes

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.

Earl Hamilton
• Wednesday, 21 October, 2020
• 7 min read
kettlebell swing glute exercise exercises kettlebells workout legs variations kb strength form glutes bell butt hip bicep lower moves functional
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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.

kettlebell swing guide exercises exercise training weight
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2 – 3 days per week, sets of 20 – 30 reps, brief rest breaks, for about 4 – 10 minutes. The most important point is to progress overtime by increasing the weight.

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. Sign up below for new articles, recipes, training tips, habit change, products and more.

Swings can be performed with lighter loads for ultra-high reps to build muscular endurance and aerobic conditioning, and they can be performed with heavier loads for medium-to-high reps to build strength, explosive hip power, anaerobic conditioning, and even muscular shape in the posterior chain. You will also notice that the heavier loads generate greater GRS, and that this force increase is even more pronounced in the horizontal vector.

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. Why do Hip Hinge Style Swings Produce Greater Horizontal GRC’s?

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.

kettlebell swing glute bell exercise basic redefining strength redefiningstrength
(Source: redefiningstrength.com)

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).

I asked my friend Marianne Kane, a proficient and experienced kettle bell swinger, to perform kettlebellswings with 16 kg, 28 kg, and 48 kg while electrodes were place on her glutes, quads, and hamstrings and electromyographic (Egg) activity was recorded. Before the swings, maximum voluntary isometric contractions (Mics or MVC) were performed so that the data could be normalized to those positions (which explains how you can get over 100% activation — if the activation induced by the dynamic exercise exceeds that of the isometric exercise).

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).

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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. If you've ever been within swinging distance of a weights room, chances are you seen — or executed — this staple.

‘ Kettlebellswings will teach you how to use your full core,’ says PT Casper van Heerlen. ‘It also targets your posterior chain — the string of muscles running along the back of your body,’ says Shone Hendricks, head of sports science at the High Performance Center at the University of Pretoria.

These are neglected in lots of workouts and help to strengthen your alignment and improve posture. Thanks to the intensity of the kettle bell swing, they also get your heart rate pumping, making them an effective cardio move too — a study by the American Council on Exercise and University of Wisconsin-La Cross’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science found that swings could 'markedly increase aerobic capacity, improve dynamic balance and dramatically increase core strength'.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down to pick up the kettle bell with both hands in an overhand grip. Look ahead, not down, and keep your spine aligned and your knees slightly bent throughout the movement.

Allow the weight to drop back down, hinging at the hips as it swings between your legs. Focus on clenching courgettes at the top of the move and keeping your back straight.

kettlebell swing swings exercise workout exercises benefits kettlebells fat cardio belly moves weight health lose squat butt basics american female
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In the American version of the exercise, you'll bring the weight higher than chest or shoulder-height, all the way up overhead. Unsurprisingly, this is tougher — it requires greater mobility and will challenge your cardiovascular system even more, meaning you'll send your HR climbing even higher.

You'll get all the strength benefits, and it's a safer option too — you don't want to be flinging any kettle bells near your head without full confidence in your ability to control them, do you? ‘This move will start to feel uncomfortable given your limited range of motion as the baby gets bigger,’ says Hendricks.

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Kettlebellswings were introduced to the US by Russian fitness expert Pavel Tsatsouline at the turn of the 21st Century. Since their introduction, Russian kettle bells have become a familiar sight in many gyms and a popular choice for home workouts.

They also come in a wide range of weights, which means that you can use them at any stage of your fitness journey and can benefit whether you’re an experienced or novice user. The two-handed swing uses the hamstrings, glutes, quads, hips, core, back, trapezium, shoulders, and forearms.

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The intensity means that you will feel the burn after a decent set, and with a good 30-minute workout you will be sweating profusely, your heart will be pumping faster, and oxygenated blood will be coursing through your veins. As long as you maintain good form, you don’t have to use a heavy bell, especially for cardio training.

He also advises having two additional, heavier, bells for progression and for use in some other types of kettle bell exercise. As the kettle bell descends from the swing, gravity ensures that the bell will feel a lot heavier, especially as you reach the end of your set.

As with any exercise, but perhaps more so with a full-body kettle swing workout, good form is vital to ensure the best results. When performing the swing, all your weight should be placed on the heel and middle of the foot and should never transfer to the toes.

You should also keep your neck and head in alignment with your back so ensure that you are always looking ahead at the horizon while performing this movement. The height you raise the kettle bell will be determined by the amount of power you can muster from your hip thrust.

The number of reps and sets you need to perform depends on your fitness level, what you’re trying to achieve, and the weight you’re using. The length and frequency of yourkettlebell workouts depends on the intensity and difficulty of the session.

kettlebell training transformation chest flow glutes swing exercises crossfit body workout swings deadlift kettlebells
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Kettlebellswings are a full body workout, and whether you are training increasing strength or stamina, or even to lose weight, research suggests that shorter sessions are more effective. They utilize virtually every muscle in the body, and they are effective for weight loss as well as explosive strength training.

They also require very little equipment, and the intensity of the workout can be increased so that you continue to make the gains you’re looking for. Well, if you explore one of the neglected corners of the gym (or your garden shed for that matter), you may well find a brilliant alternative to your standard weight workouts: the kettle bell.

While dumbbells and barbells are popular and effective weight training options, they’re definitely not the only method of building muscle. A kettle bell swing, for instance, uses your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats and all you're stabilizing muscles as well, such as your core.

Just do a quick Google search and you’ll find over 50 exercises — ranging from good mornings and single arm dead lifts, to Turkish get ups and kettle bell snatches. Because you tend to use one kettle bell at a time, you’re naturally working on your core power, balance, flexibility and coordination — all of which are crucial to everyday fitness, as well as strength training.

If your core is not activated, you can’t get a weight into the air during a clean and press without putting untold pressure on your back. You need balance and pelvic floor strength to complete a set of kettlebellswings, while coordination is crucial for getting through any heavy weights' session safely.

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(Source: angieinmotion.com)

One person who knows all about strength and conditioning is Laura Higgins — a certified trainer, author and director of The Foundry. Even a kettle bell halo (circling your shoulder girdle with the weight) activates your traps, lats, deltoid and core.

Marimba explains that they’re a great tool for spiking heart rate “very quickly due to their functionality”; they don’t require any effort to set up, but they do get us working hard to move them from point A to B. Utilizing higher rep ranges and ballistic movements with appropriate rest has big cardiovascular benefits.”

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1 www.bccorefitness.com - http://www.bccorefitness.com/videos-and-articles/kettlebell-swing-better-butt/
2 bretcontreras.com - https://bretcontreras.com/kettlebell-swings-go-heavier-for-greater-glute-and-hamstring-activation/
3 www.womenshealthmag.com - https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/fitness/workouts/a34415280/kettlebell-swing/
4 www.atemi-sports.com - https://www.atemi-sports.com/what-muscles-kettlebell-swings-work/
5 www.stylist.co.uk - https://www.stylist.co.uk/fitness-health/workouts/benefits-kettlebell-workouts/463169