The kettlebell swings are among the most popular of the various kettlebell training exercises, and they have the capacity to improve your muscular strength, endurance, power, agility, balance and cardiovascular fitness. The kettlebell swing is a compound, dynamic weightlifting exercise that involves continuously swinging a single kettlebell back and forth between your legs and up in front of your chest to shoulder height. It requires work from muscles throughout your entire body, but most of the demand is placed on muscles in your hips and legs. The kettlebell swing, which can be performed while holding the weight with one or two hands, can be added to your strength or cardio-circuit workouts.
Kettlebell Swing Technique
To perform the kettlebell swing, first set the kettlebell on the floor and stand a few feet behind it with your feet set to hip-width apart. Push your hips back and bend your knees to squat down with your arms hanging downward. Grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands using an overhand grip. Your back should be straight and your shoulders should be positioned directly over the kettlebell. Slightly extend your hips and knees to lift the kettlebell off the floor. Dip down so that the kettlebell swings back between your legs and behind your hips. Then, while keeping your back straight, explosively extend your hips and knees to straighten your torso to vertical and propel the kettlebell forward, using your fully-extended arms to guide it up to the height of your shoulders. Bend your hips and knees to swing the kettlebell back between your legs and then extend them again to propel the kettlebell back up to your shoulders. The kettlebell should continuously swing back and forth until you’ve finished all repetitions.
A more advanced way to perform the kettlebell swing is to hold the weight with one arm instead of two. The fundamentals of the two swing variations are similar. When using one arm, grasp the center of the kettlebell with one hand using an overhand grip and hold your free arm out to your side. Muscles in the hips and legs continue to provide the power that propels the kettlebell. However, a greater load is placed on the shoulder muscle of the one working arm when doing the single-arm version. Plus, when swinging the kettlebell with one arm, the force attempts to pull your torso into rotation, which means your obliques have to work harder to keep your torso stable.
Avoiding a Common Mistake
The most common mistake when performing the kettlebell swing is to use the muscles in your shoulders and arms to swing the weight upward. To ensure that you’re correctly using force from the muscles in your hips, focus on pushing your hips back and keeping your spine straight as you swing the kettlebell between your legs. At the lowest point, when the kettlebell is back behind your hips, your hips should be so flexed that your spine is nearly parallel with the floor. When you swing the kettlebell forward, initiate the movement by extending your hips.
Kettlebell Swing in Your Workouts
Add kettlebell swings to either your strength-training or cardio-circuit workouts so that you’re performing them three days per week. When incorporating them into your strength workouts, do kettlebell swings toward the beginning of the workout so that your muscles aren’t fatigued. Always warm up with five to 10 minutes of walking or light jogging before your workouts.
Do four sets of at least 10 to 20 kettlebell swings, resting 60 seconds between sets. Women should begin by using a kettlebell that weighs about 13 pounds, and men should start with a 35-pound kettlebell. Once you can do 20 reps comfortably, bump up the weight of your kettlebell.
- ExRx.net: Kettlebell Swing
- Men’s Health: Does Your Kettlebell Swing Suck?
- YouTube: Stack: How to Properly Perform and Teach the Kettlebell Swing Featuring Mike Boyle
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: Kettlebell Training: What Does the Science Say?
- FitDay: How to Use and Choose the Right Kettlebell
- Photo Credit AmmentorpDK/iStock/Getty Images
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