“The Kettlebell Swing is the most important of all the kettlebell exercises but also the one that most people struggle to master. The kettlebell swing is based on the deadlift movement pattern and hits almost every muscle in the body.”
The Kettlebell Swing should be thought of as a pulling movement. It targets the posterior chain and essentially you are loading and de-loading the back of the body as you accelerate and decelerate the kettlebell.
Be warned the eccentric or deceleration part of the kettlebell swing is what causes muscle soreness so you could be walking like John Wayne for a few days following a good set of kettlebell swings.
The kettlebell swing is a dynamic movement. As the kettlebell descends from the top part of the movement gravity takes its toll and the overall weight of the bell increases, so a 16kg kettlebell will feel much heavier at the bottom of the kettlebell swing.
Also at the bottom of the kettlebell swing you are decelerating its load and forcing the muscles to absorb and then reverse the swings momentum. It is for this reason that you can get some truly amazing results without having to use a really heavy kettlebell for the Swing.
Kettlebell Swing Benefits
- Best fat Loss Exercise. If your main objective is fat loss then there are not many single exercises better than the kettlebell swing. The swing exercise targets over 600 muscles in one go creating huge demands on energy consumption which in turn means more calories burnt.
- Super Cardio – Want to feel like you have just sprinted the 100 metres without moving your feet?then this is the exercise for you. Huge amounts of oxygen are required to fund the kettlebell swing movement so it only takes between 30 – 60 secs before you heart and lungs are really pushed to their maximum capacity.
- Get Strong Quickly – Big strength gains come from eccentric movements which involve lengthening muscles under load. The kettlebell swing overloads 100’s of muscles eccentrically as you actively absorb the energy from every swing movement. Look out though, eccentric movements are what makes your muscles feel sore the next day!
- Rehabilitate Shoulders and Knees – The swing tries to pull the shoulder joints apart during the movement and as you fight to keep your joints in place your stabilising muscles get stronger. If you suffer with bad knees then often the swing can be tolerated due to the lack of excessive bend at the knee meaning you can still strengthen the legs, hips and your cardio without needing to squat or lunge.
- Develop Explosive Power – Sports are all about power. The faster you can release stored energy the more powerful you can move. The kettlebell swing develops lots of explosive powerthrough the hips and legs which is vital for most sports.
- Exercise Anywhere – Unlike lots of other exercises you hardly need any room to perform the kettlebell swing. Your feet will not move and the kettlebell will only extend slightly further than your hands so you could workout anywhere with a 6 foot square space.
- Only one Kettlbell Required – The kettlebell swing is a very diverse exercise. You can start with the two handed swing and as you out grow that movement instantly increase the intensity by using one hand. When one hand is getting too easy you can add in the lateral swing for even more of a challenge. One kettlebell can last you a lifetime!
How to Do a Perfect Swing
Sounds good, right? All that get-strong-lose-weight talk. Well then, it’s time to learn to swing and step up your kettlebell game.
1. Stand over the kettlebell with feet hip-width apart, chest up, shoulders back and down. The ‘bell should be in line with the middle of your feet. Choose a kettlebell that allows you to swing with perfect technique while still challenging you. Consider starting and practicing with a ‘bell much lighter than what you’ll eventually use to work out so that you can practice your form.
2. Squatting down, grip the kettlebell with palms facing you and thumbs wrapped loosely around the handle.
3. Stand tall, still gripping the ‘bell. Keep your arms long and loose while retracting your shoulders blades and engaging your core. Soften the knees, shift your bodyweight into your heels and lower your rear end back and down toward the wall behind you. At this point you should be ready to spring—er, swing—into action.
4. It’s go time. Driving through your heel, explode through the hips to send that weight swinging upward from your quads. We’re aiming for chest height, with the arms extended. Achieving this finish position requires you to snap your hips through, contracting your core while squeezing your cheeks. (Yes, those cheeks!)
5. As the kettlebell begins to descend, let the weight do the work as you ready your body for the next rep. Shift your weight back into your heels while hinging at the hips and loading both the hamstrings and glutes. Receive the weight allowing the kettlebell to ride back between your legs.
6. As it makes the transition from backward to forward, drive through the heel and hips to keep this party going.