When performed correctly, kettle bell swings build total-body strength, power, and balance, while improving cardiovascular stamina, all with one piece of equipment. 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 kettlebellswing. 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. The swing begins to take shape when the kettle bell is added into the mix.
With loose arms and a light grip, the kettle bell is swung from inside the quads up to the chest, just before eye level—in the Russian version anyway (more on this later). To the untrained eye, the swing appears to be a feat of upper-body strength: Simply squat and then stand up while pulling with the arms.
Performing the perfect kettlebellswing places all the emphasis on the posterior chain—the major muscles on the backside of the body from the heels to the base of the neck, primarily the hamstrings, glutes, and low back. And unlike the little movers (calves, biceps, triceps, and deltoid), the big movers are capable of moving big weight and burning massive amounts of calories.
But the good news is its a piece of fitness equipment that actually lives up to the hype. Consider this: A study seeking to analyze the effectiveness of kettle bell exercise concluded that “kettle bells provide a much higher-intensity workout than standard weight-training routines and offer superior results in a short amount of time.”
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).
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.
That said, the decision on where to pledge your allegiance should be based on personal ability level and safety. Paying close attention to a proper swing will ensure a successful—not to mention injury-free—workout.
Start and finish the swing by loading, firing, and hinging at the hips. In today’s world we spend the majority of our days doing things in front of us with terrible posture.
Cubicles) for hours at a time not moving and making the front of our body even tighter. If You’re Not Doing The Kettle bell Swing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life!
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.
And because of our terrible posture — because our anterior muscles are shortened and tight pulling us forward — we give the illusion of being weak and unconfident as opposed to standing erect with our chins up. It’s no wonder that we’re generally unhealthy compared to previous generations that didn’t live a convenience lifestyle in this information age.
And there is one exercise — that if you incorporate it into your daily routine — can easily combat the ill effects of anterior dominance and the Western Lifestyle. FrequencyExercise TypeIntensityRepetitionsRest up to 7x per week strength training high intensity varies by workout varies by workout Once labelled “hard core”, kettle bells are now popping up in every gym, garage and backyard because of their portability and reputation for fast results.
Go into any gym and you’ll see inexperienced exercisers turning a swing into a front squat and shoulder raise exercise further tightening our hips, quads, chest and shoulders and just adding to the anterior dominance issue that I told you about above. A hip hinge — like a dead lift movement — forces you to use those posterior chain muscles to move the kettle bell.
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.
“If You’re Not Doing The Hard style KettlebellSwing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life!” As opposed to starting your set of swings from the standing position like how you see most amateurs do it, the hike pass allows you to overstretch your lats — a powerful muscle in your upper body with a direct relationship with your glutes — and get more “juice” out of your swing.
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 KETTLEBELLSWING is the best thing that you can do for your training regardless of your goal.
If you want to build strength, kettle bell swings will forge a grip of steel and will add pounds to your dead lift & squat. If you want to boost your athleticism, kettle bell swings 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.
The kettlebellswing is a powerhouse when it relates to burning fat, building muscles, and improving your cardiovascular system. Burn a bunch of calories Studies#1 The American Council on Exercise (ACE), researchers found that a kettle bell workout can burn up to 20 calories a minute (1).
This means that a 20-minute kettle bell workout could burn up to 400 calories. The participants would use a 16 kg (35lbs) kettle bell to complete the workout.
They were told to go at their own pace and take as much rest as they needed. The subjects completed an average of 265 swings in the 12-minute workout.
Using a metabolic cart, researchers found that the participants burned an average of 160 calories in the 12 minutes, an average of 22 swings per minute (2). Now, I understand that 160 calories aren’t anything to write home about.
The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn (assuming all other variables are equal). Obviously, the heavier the kettle bell, the more calories you will burn (assuming all other variables are equal).
The subjects completed an average of 22 swings per minute. It is fair to say that not everyone will burn an average of 20 calories per minute, like in the Ace study.
But that doesn’t mean everyone will only burn 160 calories in 12-minutes, like in this study. There are too many variables that determine how many calories a person could burn for any given activity.
Age Weight Gender Activity level Your lean body mass (more LBM equals more calories burned) Your metabolic rate Full body workout The Kettle bell swing works your core, back, shoulders, hamstring, quads, glutes, forearms, and chest.
Move that shit as fast as you can (while keeping control) for 3 to 5 sets of 1 to 5 reps. The Kettle bell swing used in high-intensity workouts such as HIIT AND Tabatha will increase your anaerobic (without oxygen) capacity.
Aerobic capacity is the ability of your body to transport and use the oxygen you breathe. If you ever have felt out of breath after just 3 or 4 minutes of jogging, then you need to increase your aerobic capacity.
Your heart and lungs will curse the day you were born, but you’ll improve your aerobic capacity. A lot of people use their arms too much to perform the swing.
The last time I completed this challenge, I lost 8 pounds in the first seven days. The prescribed kettle bell weight for this challenge is: For women-16 kilos or 35 pounds.
If you are feeling brave, you can perform this workout a few more times. Just make sure you rest an adequate amount of time between workouts.
Kettlebellswing workout #5 Pick an amount of time and see how many kettle bell swings you can perform. Kettlebellswing workout #6 Pick how many swings you would like to complete as quickly as possible.
The kettlebellswing is a serious way to pack on muscle, increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance, while burning a shit ton of calories. They are an excellent way to get your workout on and kick some ass in the least amount of time possible and without having to leave the comfort of your home.
You can buy a kettle bell anywhere, from sporting goods stores, Amazon, and even Walmart. If you are looking to make your glutes firmer and stronger, check out our two moves for a stronger butt, where you’ll find two workouts that can be performed at home and without any equipment!
Please, feel free to share this blog post! The kettlebellswing is a core training staple that can help to build total body strength and power, but are you sure you're even doing the exercise correctly?
For this explosive movement, you shouldn't settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it's such a simple, essential exercise that should serve as one of the centerpieces of your training plan. 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. The way that you start your swing position is essential, as is your body's posture throughout—so let's break down everything you need to know.
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 kettlebellswing (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. Ex says: The American kettlebellswing has you swinging to a wildly high target (overhead) and that’s problem one.
Problem two: if your shoulder mobility isn’t ideal; you'll compensate by arching through the lower back. Swing Cues Ex says: Your upper body isn’t the driver of the kettlebellswing ; it’s only a lever.
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.
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 kettlebellswing is not letting your lower back drive the movement.
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.
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