5 Reasons You Should Do Kettlebell Swings

Certified Personal Trainer By Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT
Certified Personal Trainer
Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT is the author of The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Bodyweight and a leading expert on HIIT and bodyweight fitness. She lives in Venice, California, and is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

There’s no question that kettlebells are becoming more and more popular as a workout tool — you can now find kettlebells just about anywhere, from your regular gym, to bootcamps, to even the smallest hotel gyms.

And while kettlebells are a great tool to add to your regular workout staples like squats and lunges, one of the very best exercises you can do with kettlebells is the basic kettlebell swing.

Note: There are two main different types of kettlebell swings: (1) traditional Russian-style where the kettlebell goes to about shoulder-height, and (2) American-style where the kettlebell goes straight over your head.

I’ll be referring to the American-style swing here.

So how do you do a kettlebell swing?

  • Pick a kettlebell weight that’s suitable for your strength level. Start lighter than you think you need when you’re first starting out.
  • Lower into a half squat with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your feet pointed slightly outward. Hold the kettlebell in two hands, keeping your arms straight and your shoulders pulled back.
  • Swing the kettlebell slightly behind your legs, then extend the knees and hips to accelerate the kettlebell upward. Keep your arms straight while you project the kettlebell up and away from the body. At the end position, the kettlebell should be nearly straight above your head and facing slightly forward.
  • Absorb the kettlebell weight as it follows the same path back to the starting position.
  • Make sure to keep your arms straight the entire time.

Watch this quick video if you want to see a kettlebell swing in action.

Now that you know how to do them, here’s why you should do kettlebell swings on a regular basis:

1. They work your entire body.

Kettlebell swings give you a full body workout in just a single exercise, working nearly your entire lower body, your core, back, shoulders and more.

2. They’re an incredibly efficient exercise.

Not only will kettlebell swings get you stronger, they’ll also get your heart rate up in an incredibly short amount of time, making them one of the best bang-for-your-buck exercises you can do.

3. They'll help you function better in real life situations.

The way that kettlebell swings train muscles is a lot closer to how you move in your every day life than traditional core exercises like crunches and sit ups are. This makes them a highly functional exercise that will help you with everything from boosting up a suitcase in an airplane to playing with your kids at a playground.

4. They can help reduce back pain and injuries.

While much of traditional resistance training does little to train the lower back muscles, kettlebell swings are great for this — and may help you avoid or reduce injuries and pain that results from having a weak core. But don’t do too many at once when you’re first starting out, or you may end up aggravating those unused muscles. Doing 10 reps 2 to 3 times is a great starting place for most beginners. Ease into the practice and you’ll reap the benefits!

5. They’re great for conditioning and overall fat burning.

Kettlebell swings are a high intensity exercise, meaning they’ll get you conditioned and help burn fat in less time than traditional moderate intensity exercise will. Do 100 swings in a row and you’ll see what I mean!

Try adding kettlebell swings to your HIIT workouts for a super effective, minimal equipment workout!

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