Kettlebell Swing – The Ultimate Guide


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.

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 12kg 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 swing 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.

The kettlebell swing predominantly works into the back of the body especially the glutes, hamstrings, hips, core, and back. You will get some conditioning through the quads but not as much as with squats or lunges, great for women because it doesn’t bulk up the legs. The shoulder stabilizers also get a lot of work as they try and prevent the shoulder joint from being pulled apart. The lower back should act in an isometric manner meaning that it should maintain a flat or neutral spine throughout the movement, the core muscles will help to maintain this position.

7 Kettlebell Swing Benefits

1. 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.

2. Super Cardio

Want to feel like you have just sprinted 100 meters 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 seconds before your heart and lungs are really pushed to their maximum capacity.

3. Get Strong Quickly

Big strength gains come from eccentric movements which involve lengthening muscles under load. The kettlebell swing overloads hundreds of muscles eccentrically as you actively absorb the energy from every swing movement. Look out though, eccentric movements are what make your muscles feel sore the next day!

4. 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 from 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.

5. 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 power through the hips and legs which is vital for most sports.

6. 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 work anywhere with a 6-foot square space.

7. Only One Kettlebell Required

The kettlebell swing is a very diverse exercise. You can start with the two-handed swing and as you outgrow 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!

If you would like to come for a  2-week trial of our Group Training and see how to incorporate Kettlebell Exercises into your training every day, click here now.