Kettlebell Swing: The Most Efficient Exercise Ever

By Liz DiAlto

In today’s busy world, more and more clients are moving away from 60-90 minute gym sessions and asking about the best “bang-for-your-buck” exercises and workouts.

For most things, I will never say “X is the BEST,” because I believe in a highly individualized approach to health and fitness and place a lot of importance on self experimentation.

However, there is one exception to my rule: The Kettlebell Swing.

If you could only do ONE exercise for the rest of your life, The Kettlebell Swing would be my recommendation. For 2 reasons:

Kettlebell Swings Boost Your Metabolism.  Kettlebell swings increase power, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity, and anaerobic capacity.

Kettlebell Swings Are Super Efficient.  The swing works your entire posterior chain (this means every muscle down your back side from the base of your neck to the bottom of your feet!), while strengthening your abs and hips as well.

Before you even touch a kettlebell here are a few exercises that can actually prepare you for the movement:

The plank.  A proper kettlebell swing requires you to brace your abs just like a plank does at the top of the movement

The glute bridge. This is the easiest way to practice thrusting your hips forward (or up) and squeezing your glutes.

The dead lift.  Put simply the swing is the dynamic version of a static dead lift using a Kettlebell as the modality versus dumb bells or a barbell.

Once you’re ready to try a real swing, keep in mind that it’s not a squat, and there’s no pulling of the kettlebell with your arms required.  Your arms don’t actually do any of the work, they are propelled by the force of your hip thrust.

How To Do A Kettlebell Swing Step-by-Step:

Start with your feet a little bit wider than shoulder width apart, sit back into your hips, knees bend to just less than 90 degrees, butt down (from a side-view your shoulders would only be slightly higher than your butt).

Begin with the kettlebell on the ground in front of you, far enough away that you have to fully extend your arms to grip it. Grip it tightly, press your shoulders down away from your ears to engage your lats, and swing the bell back between your legs, then using your hips to thrust forward, stand up straight allowing the momentum from your hip thrust to propel your arms out in front of you as you squeeze your glutes and quads and brace your abs (remember, just like the glute bridge and the plank).  Keep your weight in your heels and be mindful not to arch your back, the body should form a straight line at the top of the movement.

Once gravity takes action and the bell wants to lower back down, keep your abs braced to protect your lower back, pull it back between your legs and repeat.  It may take a few swings to get your arms up to shoulder level, remember not to pull the bell, let the momentum do the work.

A few extra cues:

On the descending part of the swing, do your best to keep the bell above your knees and inhale.  As you thrust to the top position, exhale.

If you’re more visual and prefer a video demonstration, click here for a YouTube tutorial: How To Do A Kettlebell Swing

Once you get this movement down, try using the swing for this quick 8 minute interval workout:

Kettlebell swings 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds, repeat 16 times.

 

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