What Is The Kettlebell Swing?
The kettlebell swing is a complex and functional full-body exercise. It is the most important basic exercise in kettlebell training. At first glance, the execution looks like a mixture of deadlifts and squats. However, the swing is based on a higher dynamic.
In recent years, kettlebell training has developed from a mysterious training method used by Russian elite soldiers to an international fitness trend. There are hardly any fitness studios where there is not at least one kettlebell. The most famous exercise is and remains the kettlebell swing. The ball dumbbell is swung between your legs as if you were tossing it forward.
The art of swing is to keep your weight under control despite swinging movements. What you should absolutely avoid: Let your weight control you. Below we explain how the exercise is carried out correctly – and what are its benefits.
How The Correct Execution Works
- In the starting position, your feet are shoulder-width apart. The kettlebell is placed behind the heels. Your knees are bent and your buttocks are stretched backward. Keep your back straight, chest erect, and grab the kettlebell.
- By stretching your knees and hips at the same time, you straighten up and set the kettlebell in a pendulum motion. The explosive hip extension is the core element of the exercise. According to the principle of impulse transmission, the generated force reaches the torso, shoulders, arms, and into the kettlebell.
- You increase the swing height in the following two to three repetitions until the ball is about head height. Make sure you keep your back straight in every phase of the movement!
Benefits Of Kettlebell Swing
The swing strengthens your leg and gluteal muscles. The back and abdominal muscles are strengthened by stabilizing the spine. The acceleration and braking forces also train the shoulder muscles. The benefits of the kettlebell swing have been also proven by several scientific studies. Mentioned below are some benefits of integrated kettlebells swings in your training program.
- High energy consumption: The kettlebell swing is an effective full-body exercise that gets the pulse high. Because many muscles are trained at the same time, there is also correspondingly high energy consumption.
- Effective cardiovascular training: The rhythmic kettlebell swings really get the cardiovascular system going, which is equivalent to intensive interval training.
- Firm buttocks & strong back: Even if the kettlebell swing requires full-body tension, the muscles that are primarily trained are the hamstrings, buttocks, and back – precisely the muscles that are neglected in our sedentary society and require more attention.
- Good for back and neck tension: It has been scientifically proven that 15 minutes of kettlebell swings 3 times a week is sufficient to reduce pain sensation in the neck and shoulder by 46% and in the lower back by 57% after 8 weeks.
- Fast and explosive: In most sports, you have to rely on a (fast) strong hip extension, which is particularly effective in kettlebell swing (just think of the hip extension during the fundamental running movement at the end of the support phase).
In a nutshell: The advantages mentioned above make the kettlebell swing an indispensable exercise that trains several important abilities of the body at the same time. If you only have limited time and space and still don’t want to miss out on a crisp workout, you should train the kettlebell swing.
The Kettlebell Swing For Beginners
Inexperienced athletes should first learn classic strength exercises such as squats or deadlifts. If you have mastered these movements and have sufficient body stability, you will have no problems learning to swing. At the beginning of the learning process or to warm up, you should raise and lower the kettlebell vertically, similar to the classic deadlift. In doing so, you will get a feel for the ball and prepare yourself for the later swing.
Incorporate Swing Into Your Training
When doing the right swing, it is best to start with a few repetitions and more sets (e.g. 3-5 reps of 10 sets). This means that your body does not tire so quickly and you can concentrate better on the technique. Advanced users can increase the level of difficulty by increasing the number of repetitions, using higher weights, or doing the exercise with one arm. You can set new stimuli with other kettlebell exercises such as clean or snatch. These build on the swing.
Who Is Suitable For The Kettlebell Swing?
Before you dare to swing, you should have some basic strength training skills. In general, it is recommended that you seek guidance from a qualified trainer. This also applies to people with previous illnesses or orthopedic damage. In these cases, it must be decided individually whether the kettlebell can be used in the training plan. The swing can also be used in rehab training.
Common Mistakes In Kettlebell Swing
As with all strength exercises, it is important to pay attention to the correct technique. Posture and stability are the be-all and end-all of the kettlebell swing. Men in particular often overestimate themselves and train with excessively high weights, which increases the risk of injury. For beginners, 10-12 kg (women) or 14 to 16 kg (men) are recommended. Depending on your level of performance, you can also use lower or higher weights.
To prevent injuries, using the correct form is very important, especially if you have low back or shoulder pain. When you perform the kettlebell swing incorrectly, you can put unnecessary strain on your joints, causing greater pain or injury.
One can perform kettlebell swings for a certain amount of time or for a certain number of repetitions. So, start slow and work your way up. Begin with a few reps until you become comfortable with the movement and develop the strength to increase the weight.
If you want to take your training to the next level, you can read the velocity based training guide.