Kettlebell training has become more and more popular over the last 5 years, as it is a method of training which helps maintain overall fitness, while also increasing your strength, aerobic/anaerobic conditioning and power. Kettlebell swings have the capacity to increase full-body conditioning itself, making it an invaluable exercise in many ways.
The metabolic demands of the exercise itself burns a large amount of calories in a very short amount of time, and your overall endurance will be increased for nearly all sports.
Compared with other “full-body” exercises, possibly the most important features of training the Kettlebell swing is that it involves fewer risks for your lower back, and fewer injuries in general than nearly all others. Kettlebell swings do not have an “eccentric” or controlled-lowering phase, which greatly reduces the likelihood you injure yourself.
Of course it is possible if you do not even attempt to have good form, but it is more difficult nonetheless.
This is also important as you are far less likely to experience DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), since there is no contraction being made to stabilize the negative portion of each rep!
All kettlebell exercises can be performed at a quicker pace than nearly every dumbbell or barbell exercise, helping to provide cardiovascular elements as well as others. Kettlebell swings themselves can provide you the benefit it would take 5-6 other exercises to achieve, making them possibly the most efficient-compound movement in the entire world!
Why Should You do KettleBell Swings?
The main reason to perform kettlebell swings is because it will immediately begin conditioning your entire body, burning fat, and enabling a healthy metabolism.
A study that was published on PubMed that sought to determine the effect of kettlebell swing on maximum and explosive strength concluded that 6 weeks of bi-weekly kettlebell swing training was able to provide a stimulus sufficient to increase both explosive and maximum strength, providing a legitimate alternative to more traditional strength and conditioning protocols.
Kettlebell swings are almost literally a do-everything exercise, and along with the fact that they are very safe when compared with many other exercises, there is no reason not to add them in to your routine today!
Kettlebell Swing Movements
The kettlebell swing is composed of two moves, the first being a hip hing, and the second is a “lockout” phase. Similar to the starting position of a deadlift, the first hip hinge is performed by sitting back into your hips and maintaining a neutral spine position. This neutral spine position is vital for squatting and deadlifting healthily and the kettlebell swing can ingrain this movement almost immediately!
As you hinge and sit at your hips, the kettlebell is now pulled between your legs. The second movement is the lockout, where you now snap your hips and stand up with your abs braced. During this part of the movement, your quad and glutes squeeze, as your hamstrings, glutes and lower back power the weight upwards. Simply, these are the two main movements of the kettlebell swing. Pretty simple, right?
Health Benefits of the Kettlebell Swing
In some circles of strength and conditioning minds, the kettlebell swing has even been touted as a new “King of Exercises,” dethroning the squat and deadlift (your preference between these two). Some of the benefits include:
Complete Body Training
Kettlebell swing touches nearly every muscle in your body, including your deltoids (shoulders), hamstrings, core, quadriceps, gluteus and lower back. Your grip and forearm strength will be challenged immensely and might even be the first part of your body to fail while doing them! Even with only a 30lb kettlebell, after a few high-rep sets your forearms will assuredly be on fire!
Personally, I opt for the single-arm kettlebell swing more often than the 2-handed version, due to the increased demands on shoulder stability. For the last 4 years I have played basketball with a torn-labrum in my shoulder, and I need all the stability work I can get!
Single-arm kettlebell swings act as a form of rhythmic stabilization for the shoulder joint, where the shoulder doesn’t have to stabilize just a stationary force, but a moving one!
The increased amount of benefits this has for your shoulder is literally almost endless.
Attacks the Core, Improving Power Drastically
Kettlebell swings have a nature that compels your core to become engaged more intensely than almost all direct “ab” movements. Stabilizing a moving weight through a large range of motion has a tremendous effect on your core strength, linking your upper and lower body together quicker than ever. Your core provides support for your spine and when your brain notices that your core is stabilized, you will be able to generate more power. This increase in overall body strength and power will ultimately let you build your other lifts quicker, leading to increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass!
The kettlebell swing generally involve lighter loads than other compound exercises, leading to less risk of injuries. Squats and deadlifts cause numerous amounts of injuries each year as people do not learn the technique properly. The kettlebell swing is a perfect alternative for people who do not want to risk injuring themselves with these exercises.
Along with this, the kettlebell swing actually trains nearly the exact movement patterns of both of these exercises.
The angle and positioning is slightly different, but the movement concepts are very similar.
To me, mastery of kettlebell swings should be a pre-cursor to even being allowed to squat or deadlift!
Even world-renowned Spinal Biomechanics Professors have discovered that a movement such as the kettlebell swing is actually capable of reversing the posterior strain on discs in the lower back. While performing the kettlebell swing, the lower back is opened up thereby lengthening and aligning your spine, improving your posture and easing back pain. As a society who spends so much time sitting at a desk or chair during daily life, this is invaluable and 100% necessary.
When performing kettlebell swings, you will without a doubt effectively strengthen and stretch your tendons and stabilizing muscles of your legs and back. The kettlebell swing usually targets the neglected piriformis and IT bands, and with this natural stretching you will be able to promote a higher level of flexibility in your hips rapidly. A tight set of hips and piriformis muscle will lead anyone to lower-back pain, regardless of your level of athleticism. Don’t let this happen to you and begin utilizing the kettlebell swing today!
My Uses for Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings were first introduced to me the summer before I left for college. After the first 3 sets I did I noticed a benefit I had not felt from any other exercises to date.
Many exercises engage large parts of your body and build muscle mass, strength or power on their own, but truly, none compare to this exercise.
A few solid weeks of kettlebell swing training will stabilize your shoulders, strengthen your grip, create a rock-solid core, and leave you with more internal physical power than ever before!