Is Kettlebell Swing A Compound Exercise

David Lawrence
• Saturday, 28 November, 2020
• 9 min read

Doing resistance training regularly can also help you lose belly fat and boost metabolism naturally too, among other things. Unlike more traditional bodybuilding methods, kettle bell workout classifies as 'functional' training and is considered to build functional muscle mass as opposed to mainly the aesthetically pleasing variety the former does.

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Since you are moving your arm around your head, kettle bell halo also improves shoulder mobility, something not many people pay attention to. When performing kettle bell halos, make sure you keep your core tight and focus on rotating the shoulders as opposed to your hips and upper body.

By keeping your core tight, you can reduce swaying and isolate the upper back and shoulder more efficiently. Sometimes also called the kettle bell high pull, this exercise works the same muscles as the standard kettlebellswing but by adding the horizontal pull movement, it also adds a bit more resistance to the movement and works the core, the shoulders and the upper back a bit more.

Probably the second best kettlebellexercise after the kettlebellswing, the Turkish get up requires muscle coordination and improves overall strength significantly. Turkish get ups are great full body exercises that work the core, the glutes, hips and shoulders the most.

It's a real mystery why thrusters are not super popular: they combine two awesome exercises, the squat and the overhead press, into one perfectly smooth flow and work both the lower and the upper part of the body, not to mention the core which works twice as hard to stabilize the body. We've all turned up to the gym, short on time and motivation, only to find every piece of equipment we need for our workout isn't free.

Faced with this scenario, you have two options: ditch the workout and go home or find a piece of versatile equipment that is underused and undervalued by most of the gym-going community. Packing the same weighty punch as dumbbells, kettle bells are likely to be found in a dusty corner of the gym.

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Much like the humble rowing machine and versa climber, most gym bros steer clear of the cast-iron 'bells, helping you get an effective, time-efficient workout in, without having to worry about your kit getting pinched. This and the growing popularity of sports such as CrossFit and Strongman have helped drive kettle bell training and workouts into the mainstream.

On top of this, owing to their design, kettle bells are one of the easiest weights to move around during your workout in a short timeframe and can be stored away easily, from your car boot to your garden shed or garage. “Kettle bells give you the opportunity to move athletically with additional resistance from a variety of angles and more challenging positions,” explains Jon Lewis, a personal trainer with fitness outlet Industrial Strength.

Not only that, but exercises such as kettle bell swings can help increase your heart rate, burn extra fat and tone muscle, but where they really come into their own is in building strength throughout your posterior chain. As these are your body’s biggest muscles, you’ll also torch calories,” says Rob Blair, PT at The Commando Temple.

Additionally, kettle bells are an incredibly useful tool for those looking to build their base of strength and mobility, so if you're struggling with your barbell back squat, for example, utilizing the kettle bell goblet squat is a good way of practicing proper form with a safer exercise that can then be upgraded as your strength increases. Well-suited for swings, presses and carries, kettle bells also lend themselves to more dynamic movements, where a dumbbell or barbell may be more difficult to use.

Usually, kettle bell workouts are built on a high-rep range, meaning that several muscles are worked at once and, if kept at a consistent pace, can offer similar aerobic benefits to HIIT training. Similarly, by performing kettle bell circuits three times a week, you’ll pump up your VO2 max by 6 per cent in just under a month, according to the NSA’s Sac Report.

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The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also found that kettle bell training contributes to a healthier lower back, owing to the loading and movement patterns. “Kettle bells are arguably one of the most versatile bits of equipment you can find in a gym,” says Sam Wrigley, a London Bridge-based PT.

“This exaggerated flexion and extension at the hip puts a lot of force through the lower back.” When it comes to getting injuries from poor form, the “arching of the back and not engaging the glutes in an overhead press or folding in a goblet position” can put you at risk of busting your lower back. Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and bend your knees to grab the kettle bell with both hands.

Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Initiated by a powerful hip thrust from your hamstring and glutes, opting for heavier weights (once the move is mastered, of course) for up to 90 seconds a set will vastly improve your anaerobic fitness, accelerating your heart-rate and ignite a fat-burn that the bench press can only dream of.

Instead, by combining a front squat with an overhead press, you're transforming a drab move into a compound, multi-joint exercise that demands full-body power. In one swift movement, slightly jump off the ground and raise your arms to extend above your head.

Land softly on your feet with your knees bent as though you're doing a squat and extend your arms straight above you shoulder-width apart. Powerlifting moves needn't be restricted to barbells bending under crippling weight loads.

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Instead, the kettle bell clean and press offers the opportunity to increase grip strength, become stronger in overhead movements (your shoulder press will thank you) and will help you learn the lesson of maintaining a rigid core during all lifts. Plus, the researchers found that participants performing the kettle bell snatch usually maintained 86 to 99 per cent of their maximum heart rate, making it an essential move for easy weightless.

Drive through the heel and bring yourself back up to standing position, without letting your leg touch the floor. Functional and an easy gym brag, the kettle bell pistol squat is the king of mobility moves.

Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, clasping a kettle bell in each hand in front of your chest with palms facing each other. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat, keeping the kettle bells in the same position and ensuring you don't round your back by tensing your glutes throughout.

Keep your arms strong and walk short, quick steps as fast as possible. Ideal for building grip and plugging onto the end of a tough workout, farmer's walks also pack heavy-duty muscle onto your upper-back while fighting lower-back pain and being a useful conditioning tool and fat-loss.

Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Increase the demand you place on the shoulder stabilizing muscles by doing kettle bell swings with one arm.

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Target muscle: Gluteus Maximus Synergies: Hamstrings, Adductor Magnus, Soles, Quadriceps (Rectus Memoirs, Vasts Laterals, Vasts Medial is, Vasts Intermedia), Erector Spinal, Middle and Lower Trapezium, Anterior Deltoid, Lateral Deltoid, Curricular (Upper) Pectoralis Major, Serrated Anterior Mechanics: Compound Force: Pull Repeat the forward and backward swings for the prescribed number of times.

Do not swing the kettle bell too high; stop when your arms are parallel with the floor. The kettle bell swing exercise is not a combination of a shallow squat followed by a front raise.

What’s more, the momentum for the forward swing of the kettle bell should come from the extension of your hips and not from the flexion of your shoulders. The kettle bell swing can be used in cardio circuits and to strengthen your posterior chain muscles (erector spinal, gluteus Maximus, adductor Magnus, hamstrings, and soles).

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Using the kettlebellswing, you can be sure that you are going to get a full body workout, using your upper and lower muscle groups. Recruiting all of these different muscle groups into one solid workout, only using one single piece of exercise equipment is why learning the correct way to use a kettle bell can quickly become a go-to workout on a weekly basis.

Here at Guardian-Elite Fitness, we promote muscle gain through classic dumbbell and barbell weight training exercises using concepts like progressive overload and compound lifts. Workouts that will work multiple muscle groups while at the same time, giving your cardiovascular engine a run for its money.

There are some dos and don’ts that are important to follow to make sure you are getting the full body benefit of this workout in, and avoiding injury at the same time. It’s important to note, that a kettlebellswing, is not actually using your hands or your arms to generate the force of the swing itself.

The main force of the swing will be generated by your glutes, legs and core. At first glance, it may seem like someone performing the standard kettlebellswing is using their upper body to swing the kettle bell.

The classic kettlebellswing will start with you holding the kettle bell with both hands in between your legs, then using your hips and legs to thrust forward, you’ll swing the kettle bell up toward your chest. First, we’ll explain why the kettlebellswing is so beneficial, and why you should be incorporating it into your workout routine.

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It’s not until you start doing kettle bell swings as a part of your workout, that you can realize all the benefits. The kettlebellswing uses your hips, glutes, core, legs, arms, shoulders and back to complete the entire movement.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to perform the kettlebellswing properly to reap the benefits throughout these entire range of muscles. For instance, if you are using too much of your arms to pull the weight, you will not realize the lower body exercise benefits.

The Wisconsin Lacrosse Department of Exercise and Sports Science did a study specifically using the kettlebellswing to improve aerobic capacity. Participants of the study showed marked improvement in not only aerobic capacity, but also core strength and flexibility.

No matter the physical activity, you will be relying on these muscles to generate power and force, i.e. running, jumping, sprinting, etc. We mentioned earlier that studies have shown the kettlebellswing will improve balance.

We’ve mentioned it several times now, but perfecting the kettlebellswing form is crucial to not only getting all the benefits from the workout, but also avoiding any possible injuries. There are some common mistakes that can happen, so being on the look-out for these in the beginning will put you on the fast track to getting in a great workout.

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During the kettlebellswing, which we will outline shortly, you will want to keep your back straight through the entire movement. Remember, hinge at the hips, engage the hamstrings, and keep your back neutral.

At the very top of the swing movement, your body should be in a straight line from your head to your toes. Good form beats throwing up weight any day, this is how we gain muscle and avoid injury.

By hinging at the hips, you will load up your hamstrings and glutes in preparation for the swing itself. This way the kettle bell is extended out in front of the body, yet there is a straight line from your head to your toes.

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