If Kettlebell Swings are the only movement you do for the rest of your life, you’d have a functional and attractive body. I’ve heard stories of people losing several pounds and dropping layers of fat just by doing 10-20 minutes of Kettlebell Swings per day. The kettlebell swing was a key movement in Tim Ferris’ book the 4 Hour Body. It’s also held in high regard by prominent strength coaches like Dan John and Bret Contreras.
As you know I’m a big supporter of sprints Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints. Unfortunately, some people aren’t well suited to perform sprints whether it’s due to injury, problems, or other reasons. Kettlebell Swings provide the same benefits as sprints minus the risk of hamstring pulls or joint strain. In fact, when I had a knee injury four years ago, I relied on Kettlebell Swings as my form of cardio. The Kettlebell swings actually contributed to my recovery due to the work it did on my posterior chain. They allow me to get a great cardio workout during the winter.
Kettlebell Swings and Fat Loss:
The kettlebell swings are so effective for fat loss because they work every muscle in your body. From the posterior chain muscles like glutes and hamstrings to the upper back and shoulder, the kettlebell swing is the total package. To reap the fat loss benefits of kettlebell swings, it’s best to do a high volume. You can also use kettlebell swings as a super-set with other exercises.
Kettlebell Swings and Performance:
Fat loss benefits aren’t the only benefits of swings. Since the posterior chain ( the backside of your body from upper back to calves) are critical to sprinting and jumping, kettlebell swings can make you a better athlete. By strengthening these muscles, you’ll also improve in various lifts especially the deadlift. The kettlebell swing is such a major complement to the deadlift for a number of reasons. The kettlebell swing is a hinge movement just like the deadlift. The kettlebell swing strengthens the same muscles that are highly utilized in the deadlift. The kettlebell swing teaches you how to move your hips in an explosive manner. Explosive hips will allow you to have a more fluid motion on your deadlifts. The kettlebell swing will strengthen your grip due to you having to hold the weight for several reps while still moving at explosively. Your core will get a good workout too because you have to stabilize your spine throughout the whole movement.
Kettlebell Swing Workouts:
I’m usually on and off with my usage of kettlebell swings but I plan on making a conscious effort use them at least once per week. There’s one protocol that has worked for me. I learned it on t-nation.com. The protocol involves doing 20 swings followed by a plank in which you’ll do ten deep belly breaths. Then you keep repeating this til you do at least 100 swings. There’s no rest in between.
Another protocol that I want to incorporate takes 5 minutes. In this protocol, you’ll do as many swings as you can for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds on rest. You repeat this sequence til the five minutes are up. I like this protocol because it holds you accountable. You can’t just settle for a certain number of reps. By being timed, you’re challenged to get up as much as possible, making the workout more intense. I plan on going back and forth between this protocol and the one I learned on t-nation.com to keep my body guessing.
How To Do Kettlebell Swings:
The first thing I’ll tell you is that the kettlebell swing is not a squat.
- Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. There will be a kettlebell in between your legs.
- Pick up the kettlebell and grip it tightly with both hands. Your palms should be facing your body.
- Lean forward while maintaining a neutral spine. Slightly bend your knees and hips.
- Your forearms should be in contact with your inner thigh in the bottom position.
- Drive your hips forward when pushing the kettlebell forward. All your momentum should be from your hips and hamstrings. Your knees and hips should be straight at the top position and the kettlebell should be at shoulder height.
- Keep your arms straight and your core braced throughout the movement.
There are countless videos on YouTube if you want a more visual instruction.
Bonus: If you want to take the kettlebell swing to another level, do a partner assisted kettlebell swing. This variation makes the move a lot more difficult. The way it works is when you’re at the top position, your partner will push the kettlebell down. The challenge comes from taking the momentum of the downward swing and quickly moving the kettlebell back up. The partner assisted kettlebell swing will give you a significant boost in athleticism. Craig Marker of StrongFirst states that the partner assisted kettlebell swing can provided similar benefits as the depth jump. If you don’t have a partner, make a conscious effort to make the eccentric portion of the swing as explosive as fast as possible.
If you want a lean muscular physique in addition to greater athletic performance, add the kettlebell swing to your routine. The swing will make you look good and feel good. Always remember that it’s important to have good form.