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How Do Kettlebell Swings Work

author
Ellen Grant
• Thursday, 10 December, 2020
• 22 min read

The kettle bell swing is a great exercise because it burns fat like few workouts can without any impact on your body. The kettle bell swing works different parts of the body like your shoulders, hips, your core, legs, and upper back.

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Contents

This exercise is one of the best ways to incorporate different types of movements in one workout to burn calories. With each swing, your lumbar extensors are the primary muscles this exercise works.

With stronger muscles, your body can improve its injury resilience, overall fitness, coordination, and balance. Kettlebellswings start with a powerful thrust that requires your hamstring and glutes to use more energy.

Like any other weight training equipment, you need to have a specific number of sets to perform to avoid overworking your body. According to fitness experts, the recommended number of sets for the kettle bell swing is three with five to ten reps.

This movement will help create momentum to aid in pushing the kettle bell upwards. Over the years, the kettle bell swing has proved to be an effective exercise for fitness enthusiasts across the world.

However, to reap the benefits this workout has to offer, it is essential to learn proper technique and form. Once you accomplish that, it becomes quite easy to fall in love with kettlebellswings and attain the results you desire.

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“ Swings work almost every major muscle in the body,” says Jacquelyn Boston, CSS, owner of Triple Fit in Chicago. Use that momentum to stand and swing the kettle bell out in front of your body, up to shoulder height.

Thrust your hips forward, and engage your glutes and core as you stand up straight. When the kettle bell hits shoulder height, your knees should be straight and glutes contracted in a full hip extension.

Form tips: The emphasis in this move is on a hip hinge, not a squat, so make sure you have that movement pattern down before you pick up a ‘bell, Boston says. “The glutes and leg muscles generate force while the core musculature, shoulder girdle, and pecs stabilize to control the movement,” Boston explains.

Plan to work kettle bell exercises in general, not just swings, into your routine up to two or three days per week. Use the move's intensity to your advantage by including it in a HIIT workout, ideally paired with push ups, planks, and squats (all body weight movements).

When you work your strength up, you can move on to single arm swings and double kettlebellswings (that’s a weight in each hand), Boston says. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.

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Let Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. Before you pick up a weight and start waving it around, take note that it's extremely important to pay attention the movement here.

If you do those things right (and because we increasingly sit so much, we occasionally do it wrong), you’re squeezing your glutes and your lower body is driving your ability to stand up. This action is crucial to moving and standing correctly, and critical to improving your athleticism (and your squat and dead lift movements).

This doesn’t just miss the point of a kettle bell swing (hip extension) but it’s dangerous for your shoulders, too. You end up trying to finish the swing with your shoulders, placing your rotator cuff tendons in a compromised position.

The height of the kettle bell is strictly a function of how aggressively you straighten your legs and squeeze your glutes. Problem two: if your shoulder mobility isn’t ideal; you'll compensate by arching through the lower back.

You absolutely must maintain the stiffness through your torso over the life of your swing set. Ex says: This is a lower body move, and your arms shouldn’t be anything more than a lever for the bell.

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If you explosively and powerfully stand up, and really exaggerate that glute squeeze, your torso will naturally pop up and the bell will translate forward. Ex says: Critical in the kettle bell swing is not letting your lower back drive the movement.

If you’re having trouble getting that response, think of actively squeezing your glutes to drive the bell. Brett Williams, NASA Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.

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 your kettle bell workouts depends on the intensity and difficulty of the session.

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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. 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.

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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.

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.

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(Source: wodwell.com)

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. *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.

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Kettle Grip Kettle bell Adjustable Portable Weight Grip No other kettle bell exercise offers so many benefits and is so easy to learn.

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.

When performed correctly, kettlebellswings build total-body strength, power, and balance, while improving cardiovascular stamina, all with one piece of equipment. Kettle bell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength.

If that sounds too good to be true, maybe it’s because you’ve never swung a kettle bell with pinpoint precision. With this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn to use your legs (and hips, glutes, and core) to perform the perfect kettle bell swing.

As it turns out, dancing the salsa and swinging a kettle bell have a lot in common. But they do share a coaching cue that makes every movement possible: It’s all in the hips.

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The same study went on to say that the benefits of kettle bell training extend beyond strength and stamina by helping people “burn calories, lose weight, and enhance their functional performance capabilities.” Keep arms long and loose while squeezing shoulders blades together and engaging your core.

Soften knees, shift body weight into heels, and lower butt back and down toward the wall behind you. Driving through heels, explode through hips to send weight swinging upward from quads.

Achieving this finish position requires you to snap your hips through, contracting your core while squeezing glutes. As the kettle bell begins to descend, let the weight do the work as you ready your body for the next rep.

Shift weight back into heels while hinging at the hips and loading both the hamstrings and glutes. Receive the weight, allowing the kettle bell to ride back between legs.

As it makes the transition from backward to forward, drive through the heels and hips to repeat. There’s nothing like an arms race to create animosity among nations (or in this case, coaches and their respective exercise communities).

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Instead of stopping at eye level, the American swing finishes with the arms and kettle bell overhead. Our expert Chris Finn, certified personal trainer at Life Time at Sky and Strongest level-two kettle bell instructor, never recommends the American swing due to the risk of injury to your shoulders.

Start and finish the swing by loading, firing, and hinging at the hips. I knew enough to realize I had to incorporate weight resistance training along with dieting; otherwise, I'd simply end up as a skinny version of my fat self.

I have dedicated my life to training and teaching the swing and to designing the toughest, most efficient, not to mention fun, workouts a person can do. The kettle bell swing is ideal for weight loss because it's no impact and it torches fat like no other workout can.

Kettle bell swing training is your 1-stop shop for muscle size, definition, fat loss and the heart of a racehorse. After years of training clients and leading seminars and certificate programs, I've encountered just about every question about the swing.

I think the best way to get you to pick up a kettle bell and swing it (if you haven't already) is to lead you through the top five questions and give you my most convincing answers. If you're ready to jump right in, skip to question number five for how to work it into your current workout schedule.

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The kettle bell swing works the muscles in the hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs and grip. It's a simple and fast way to incorporate a very athletic movement into a routine safely while burning a ton of calories.

The kettle bell swing is the perfect way to increase fat burning without sacrificing hard-earned muscle mass, as you do with regular cardio. I'm talking about the little, fibrous beauties that endure microscopic tears in training, and then rebuild and grow to give your muscles incredible depth and density.

The swing can bring a whole-body move into a bodybuilding routine and builds more of an athletic look while increasing low-back stability. The swing burns more calories in a shorter period of time than any other method of cardio (unless you're busting out a 6-minute mile, which I doubt).

So I began to create and design swing routines and programs based on interval training. If you've ever done cardio interval training, you know it's about performing short bursts of intensity, followed by rest, and then repeating this pattern.

With the swing, interval training increases your cardiovascular ability while distracting you from the incredible workload you bear. My workouts require you to focus on the sets, reps, and variations of the 2-hand and 1-hand kettle bell swing, which takes your mind away from the actual work you do, making it seem as if the time had just flown by.

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You have a lot of options; there are numerous ways to incorporate swing training into your existing bodybuilding routine. A simple way would be to use it as a finisher at the end of a workout that involves your legs or your back, since the weights are relatively light.

You can train heavy kettle bells for low reps while working your cardio, or swing 30-to-40 minutes with lighter bells allowing you to focus on fat burning while maintaining muscle mass. How-to Images View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

Kettle bells are pieces of portable exercise equipment that helps work your posterior chain muscles found in the butt, hamstrings, back, and abs. Kettlebellswings will build abs; however, it also depends on how you will swing the kettle bell or use it in a workout routine.

It’s a simple and fast movement that coordinates your grip, hamstrings, glutes, hips, lats, pecs, and abs. With such weight, it takes effort to grip a moving kettle bell and force to stabilize the core.

The good thing about a kettle bell swing is that it boosts metabolism by keeping your muscle mass while increasing your body’s ability to burn calories. Kettlebellswings are absolutely good for the core, though keep in mind that you shouldn’t focus solely on this.

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(Source: www.greatestphysiques.com)

Swings target your core’s muscles such as the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and even the shoulders. When you swing a kettle bell, a pulse-like contraction in the abdomen occurs, stiffening your core while also stabilizing the spinal column.

If you do execute them every day, try to include a variety of other exercises that work different muscles. Repetition of kettlebellswings can work wonders, but incorporating swings into routines is more fun and productive.

This type of swing is more challenging because you’ll use only one side of the body, which means tension in the core is vital to remain balanced. Two-Handed Kettle bell Swings : These let you squeeze your stomach and work your way up while keeping a stable movement to contract on the way down.

You will achieve well-toned abs since kettle bell lateral swings pushes your core to exert more effort. Kettle bell training is the latest trend in town that is taking the world of fitness by a storm.

These simple exercises boost endurance, power and increase strength while reducing body fat. The kettle bell swing features a dead lift movement pattern that targets almost every muscle in the body.

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The kettle bell swing is great for people who have time to only perform one exercise because of their busy schedule. The kettle bell swing is a fine choice as it targets a variety of movements and is not difficult to perform once you get the hang of it.

However, be warned not to swing too hard as the deceleration can lead to muscle soreness and make it difficult for you to walk for a couple of days. This exercise features dynamic movement and utilizes more force which is why you should always read the guidelines and abide by safety measures.

These intense movements are what make the kettle bell swing a superior exercise that is sure to have some great results. A kettlebellswings works wonders on your hamstrings, glutes, core, hips and back.

However, the kettle bell swing helps maintain an upright position, improving your posture by pulling your shoulders back. Everyone, starting from a professional bodybuilder to a casual fitness enthusiast, can benefit from a kettle bell swing.

If you want to lose body fat and are dreaming of a leaner physique, perhaps kettle bell training is a good option for you. Kettle bell training incorporates many high-intensity workouts that allow you to burn fat.

Moderate to high repetitions will give your heart and lungs the ideal workout, causing you to feel rejuvenated and alive. Big strength comes from performing eccentric movements and workouts that a beginner might be too intimidated to try.

This means it only takes between 30 and 60 seconds before your lungs and heart are pushed to their maximum capacity. This means you really have to fight it to keep your joints in place, resulting in exceptional benefits for your stabilizing muscles.

Most women who work out have a common desire to build strength without achieving the bulky appearance of a bodybuilder. Kettle bell exercises incorporate full body functional movements that target several muscle groups at the same time.

Talk to your trainer about your special needs, and they will be happy to design a workout routine that meets all your specified requirements. Stand with your feet around 6 to 12 inches outside shoulder width, with each side of your foot positioned slightly outward.

Next, brush your arms on the inner thighs, extending your knees and hips while accelerating the kettle bell upwards. Some people advise the kettle bell should be facing completely skyward, but it could cause you to lose control.

Swinging the bell with one hand requires you to put in extra effort and can be twice as much demanding for the shoulders. Quickly, reverse the direction, driving the kettle bell with your hips, moving the bell straight out.

1 This is important because for those with lower back issues traditional posterior chain exercises such as dead lifts, good mornings, etc. For those looking to strengthen the lower back and unable to use these traditional exercises the swing may be just the thing they’re looking for.

This results in a muscle flushing that McGill wrote about, quoting Jay’s 2010 research: The rapid acceleration of the bell via the motion of the hips and knees is accompanied by substantial activation of muscles in both the posterior chain and the abdominal.

They proposed the muscle flushing mechanism as an explanation for the reports of lower pain. Now, sniff air into your belly through your nose and then exhale short and sharp like you’re trying to blow out a candle far away.

But when you use forceful exhalation, known in ROC circles as power breathing, you are essentially creating a stiff wall around that flagpole to keep it stiffer. Using the Cassava maneuver creates a dynamic internal pressure that I believe supercharges the cerebral-spinal fluid flow.

The INTERCAL pressure is greatly increased when you add movement to the Cassava maneuver. Cerebral-spinal fluid is pumped or controlled by respiration that causes movement in the sacrum and cranial bones.

I believe that the spinal curves must be correctly maintained or the flow of information in the nervous system is compromised. In order to do the Kettle bell swing correctly I really had to work on my form and this had an incredible influence on establishing the proper robotic and kyphotic curvatures of my spine.

If we’re looking to the swing to be our one size fits all solution to back care then we must recognize that, for many, swinging the bell overhead is impossible without hyper extending the lower back or jamming the neck or shoulders due to limitations in their thoracic mobility. The swing is an expression of forward force projection such as found in boxing or martial arts, like a straight punch.

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Sources
1 www.muscleandfitness.com - https://www.muscleandfitness.com/routine/workouts/workout-routines/kettlebell-workout/
2 www.menshealth.com - https://www.menshealth.com/uk/building-muscle/a758657/the-7-best-kettlebell-exercises-to-build-muscle/
3 www.healthline.com - https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/kettlebell-workout