When it comes to home workouts, we don’t need to tell you that not all exercises are created equal. If you’re short on time and looking for a full-body exercise that builds muscle and raises your heart rate, we’ve found it.
All you need to do a kettlebell swing is a kettlebell or a dumbbell (we have the best adjustable dumbbells weightlifting at home), and an exercise mat, if you’d rather protect your floor or carpet from sweat (nice). While they may sound pretty harmless, kettlebell swings are an ultimate all-in-one exercise, suitable for beginners and bodybuilders alike. They will train your entire body and can also help strengthen the spine, boost your cardiovascular fitness and burn calories.
Below we’ve summarized how to do a kettlebell swing, plus the variations to try. It’s worth noting that while kettlebell swings are great for building back strength, if you’ve ever suffered from a herniated disc or back injury, it’s worth checking with your doctor or personal trainer before introducing this exercise to you. adds routine.
How do you do a kettlebell swing?
The first thing to remember before doing a kettlebell swing is that the swing portion of the movement comes from your legs, not your arms.
1. To do a kettlebell swing, start by standing on your exercise mat (we have a list of the best yoga mats that double as exercise mats if you need suggestions) with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in front of you.
2. Bend your knees and grab the kettlebell with both hands.
3. Engage your core, swing the kettlebell back between your legs; then, as you swing upward, contract your glutes and abs, keeping your arms straight as the kettlebell raises.
4. Try to bring the kettlebell up to chest height, with your arms extended. Squeeze your glutes and snap your hips at the top of the movement.
5. Let the kettlebell fall back down naturally and swing it back between your legs for your next rep.
Of course, kettlebell swings can also be done with a barbell, holding the weight by the plate, not the handle.
Remember, the motion in the kettlebell swing comes from your hips — you’re not lifting the weight with your arms. Think of your hips as the hinge in the movement — your lower body remains glued to the floor, with your weight back through your heels, and your torso moves back and forth to swing the weight. The main muscles that are trained are located along the back of the body – this is not a squat and lift.
Make sure you don’t bend your knees too much during this move (again, it’s not a squat), and avoid leaning back at the top of the move as you put too much pressure on your lower back – keep your core engaged to avoid this .
What are the benefits of a kettlebell swing?
As we’ve already mentioned, there are a number of benefits to this amazing full-body move. Kettlebell swings are a weightlifting move and one that targets the back, core, deltoids, traps, pecs, glutes, and hamstrings. They are also a type of anaerobic activity, meaning you get a great workout in a short amount of time. In fact a 2012 study found that people who did kettlebell swings had similar average heart rates to those who walked on a treadmill.
While weight loss should never be the sole reason to exercise, if you’re hoping to lose weight, kettlebell swings strengthen muscles and boost your cardiovascular fitness, burning more calories than other strength-training exercises.
Kettlebell swings also don’t require a lot of equipment and can be easily done from home. Why not start with three sets of 20 kettlebell swings and build up. You can also alternate between kettlebell swings and goblet squats or burpees for a great workout.
Finally, kettlebell swings are a brilliant exercise to do if you sit all day because they work your hips and your back muscles. We found more of the best exercises to do when you sit all day here.
The best kettlebell swing variations to try
American swing: This is where it gets a bit confusing; the exercise outlined above is commonly referred to as a Russian kettlebell swing. In an American kettlebell swing, instead of pausing when the kettlebell is at chest height, swing the kettlebell up and over your head before swinging it back down between your legs. It is more advanced than the traditional version as the range of motion is greater. Make sure you’ve mastered the Russian kettlebell swings before trying this version.
One-handed kettlebell swing: Again, one to try once you get the hang of the original, but one-handed kettlebell swings will put your stability to the test, forcing your core to work harder. To swing a kettlebell with one arm, hold the kettlebell in one arm while swinging it back and forth, keeping your other arm by your side when it’s not working. Make sure to switch between arms to do the same number of reps on each side.
Looking for more training inspiration? We found one best exercises to destroy your core if you hate planksthe best exercises to try if you have lower back painand a beginner-friendly exercise to work on your back strength†