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. Kettle bell Swings were once exclusively performed by athletes in the Soviet Union.
Now you'd be hard-pressed to walk through a gym and not see at least one person doing this incredibly versatile exercise. You need to master several KettlebellSwing form tips to get the most out of this fantastic exercise.
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a kettle bell about a foot in front of you on the ground. Step 2: Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core before starting the exercise.
Step 3: Lift the kettle bell off the ground and allow it to swing between your legs. Step 4: Forcefully drive your hips forward to propel the kettle bell into the air.
As the kettle bell lowers, move immediately and fluidly into the next rep. Step 6: On your final rep, allow it to swing back through your legs, and then place it a foot in front of you on the ground.
A loose core makes for a sloppy KettlebellSwing and puts stress on your spine. Imagine that your upper body is in a plank position with your torso hinging on your hips.
This keeps your spine in the proper position and makes your glutes, not your lower back, do the majority of work. We advise athletes to avoid this variation, as it places extra stress on the shoulders and spine.
The rhythmic nature of the KettlebellSwing makes it a wonderful move for improving your breathing technique. Take a deep diaphragmatic breath (through your stomach) as the kettle bell lowers, and exhale fully during the swing.
They explosively extend the hips and drive them forward, creating the power needed to swing the kettle bell. Your quads extend your knees to provide an extra power boost.
Your core and back muscles engage to keep your torso stable and your spine in a neutral position. These muscles also help decelerate the kettle bell during the downswing, while maintaining control of your body.
The hip hinge is a fundamental movement pattern that all athletes should perfect. It's important for athletic skills like jumping, and for exercises like the Dead lift and Squat.
This allows your strong and powerful glutes to maximally contribute to the movement, while keeping your lower back safe. The moves require lots of practice and great coaching—heck, these lifts are sports on their own.
You don't get a full triple extension—of the hips, knees and ankles—and you can't use as heavy of a weight. In a study led by renowned spinal researcher Dr. Stuart McGill, it was found that the KettlebellSwing puts forces on the spine in the opposite direction from Dead lifts and other similar exercises.
We're not saying the Dead lift is a bad exercise—it's one of our favorite lifts—but if you're dealing with back pain, the KettlebellSwing might be a smarter option. Since the KettlebellSwing is a full-body movement, it's a great option for conditioning and training muscular endurance.
According to an ACE Fitness study, a Kettle bell Snatch workout, which is similar to the Swing, burns approximately 20 calories per minute. However, the focus of the exercise is on the hip hinge, which is driven by the glutes and hamstrings.
You will use lighter weight than the traditional Swing, but the single-arm variation is more challenging for your core. The amount of weight an experienced lifter can use is significantly different from what a beginner can handle—as with any exercise.
We always advise starting on the lighter side so you can focus on mastering technique and not on the difficulty of moving the weight. Once you perfect your form, gradually increase the weight so your muscles feel challenged in your set.
By using the 4 simple steps outlined below you can progress to the kettlebellswing without the risk of injury or developing bad habits. The kettlebellswing will also radically improve the often neglected postural muscles at the back of the body.
The kettlebellswing is very cardiovascular and can be performed anywhere without the need to even move your feet which is a great way to challenge your cardio without the need for high impact. Below I have listed the most effective progression for beginners to learn the kettlebellswing safely.
I’ve also included information on what weight to use for the kettlebellswing and some kettle bell workouts for you to use to practice. Next push your hips backwards as you lean forwards keeping your back flat.
Continue leaning towards the floor until you feel your hamstrings tighten at the back of your legs. Pause for a few seconds and then return to the standing position squeezing your buttocks tight at the top.
When you feel you can comfortably complete the kettle bell good morning workout above move on to exercise number 2 below. Kettle bell Single Arm DeadliftThe single arm kettle bell dead lift takes the hip hinge movement and adds a little more knee bend while at the same time keeping the back flat.
The single arm dead lift will condition your legs, hips, buttocks and back. When performed with a decent weight and for higher repetitions the single arm dead lift can be very cardiovascular too.
Keep your weight back on your heels and push your hips backwards to take your hand towards the floor and grab the kettle bell handle. With a straight arm and a tight grip drive your hips forwards in order to use your legs to pick up the kettle bell.
At the top position squeeze your buttocks tight and do not lean backwards. To return the kettle bell to the floor push your hips backwards keeping your weight back on your heels.
The single arm dead lift is the strongest of all the human movement patterns so you will be able to lift more with this exercise than any other. If you wish to progress to the kettlebellswing then make sure you are comfortable completing the above workout before moving to step 3 below.
If you have been working hard on the single arm dead lift exercise then the two hand swing should continue nicely by replicating the same hip movement. Snap your hips forwards aggressively squeezing your buttocks and abs as you stand tall.
The kettle bell should reach chest height and only be driven up by the thrust of the hips and NOT the shoulders. Sets of 10 repetitions before stopping and resetting is a good starting point.
Due to the dynamic nature of the kettlebellswing you will require more strength and stability to control the kettle bell as it swings. Due to the natural rotation of the upper body during the one hand swing the core muscles have to fight hard to maintain position.
As with the two hand swing the wrist should touch the inner thigh and go no deeper than that in between the legs. Due to the overload on the shoulder joint you should start by keeping the reps under 10.
As your shoulder stabilizers strengthen over a matter of 4 weeks you can increase the number of reps. If you want to use the same kettle bell for the one hand swing then take it slowly and keep the reps low.
The kettlebellswing is the most challenging full body kettle bell exercise for the beginner to master. You will have discovered example workouts for you to use along with kettle bell weight recommendations and exercise techniques.
Take your time as you progress and don’t rush into the kettlebellswing before mastering steps 1 and 2. Learn how to kettlebellswing for weight loss, cardio, power, flexibility, and more
In this course, I will teach you how to use a very popular kettle bell exercise, the kettlebellswing, for weight loss, cardio, power, flexibility, strength, endurance, and so much more. This is the premium version of Master The KettlebellSwing and includes:
A downloadable copy of the popular Amazon book Master The Basic Kettle bell Swing A downloadable copy of the popular Amazon book Master The Hip Hinge
This course by Caveman training takes you from knowing absolutely nothing about the kettlebellswing to swinging safely and effectively. WARNING: Only enroll in this course if you are truly interested to go deep into the kettlebellswing.
If you are not interested in details and are looking for something quick then this is not the right course to choose. With the course, there are several workouts included that you can complete with the kettlebellswing and I will also explain some things about programming so that you can put your own customized workouts together in the form of Mom, interval training, AMAP, FOR TIME, and so on.
If you're a cross fitter I guarantee that you will improve your American swing and will get the edge over your competitors! If you're a trainer, you're going to learn how to progress your clients properly.
I mention this just to help you understand where I came from, which is a background of producing corporate short, punchy to the point training content. The gradual build from a squat swing, progressing to the hip and pendulum, and reasons why you would use each one, together with their own variations, were spot on.
The explanation of why and how to perform each variation, the slo-mo demo's, then the PA session, and finally the tests.” Please note that our Udemy courses provide you with knowledge, and in some cases allow you to obtain a certificate of participation.
The courses on our website include coaching, assessments, exams, additional books (in some cases), and certification, all aimed at trainers or kettle bell enthusiasts that are serious about their education. Show preshow less Preview 01:59 Practice Activities Explained
04:29 Correctly versus incorrectly powered swing 4 more sections Kettle bell Head Coach at Caveman training
Hello, my name is Taco Fleur, and I'm a Caveman training Certified Trainer, Russian Gregory Sport Institute Kettle bell Coach, IFF Certified Kettle bell Trainer, Kettle bell Level 1 + 2 Trainer, Kettle bell Science and Application, HardstyleFit Kettle bell Instructor, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, MMA Conditioning Level 1, MMA Fitness Level 1 + 2, Punch fit Trainer and Plyometrics Trainer Certified, with a purple belt in Brazilian Jim Jitsi. I've been physically active since the day I arrived at this earth in 1973.
I mention these PB's not to boast but to demonstrate that I have a good understanding of technique and movement across different areas. My own training and goals are geared around GPP (General Physical Preparedness) which involves kettle bell training, calisthenics, and CrossFit.
My main goals are to remains as agile as possible, remaining mobile, training in as many planes of movements as possible, and learning as many exercise combinations and movements as possible while having fun and enjoying Brazilian Jujitsu. I'm no Arnold Schwarzenegger and never will be, but strength is not solely defined by physical appearance and huge bulging muscles.