How to Do a Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is a classic, high-intensity bodyweight exercise that most people can perform. But there are several mistakes you should avoid if you want to build strength and improve performance at the same time.

The “kettlebell swing for beginners” is a great exercise to start with. It will help you build strength and endurance, while also building up your core muscles.

Note from the editor: Pavel Tsatsouline contributed this guest article.

The kettlebell swing is the workout equivalent of a Russian army knife. What else can you call a workout that can improve the strength and endurance of a professional powerlifter and an elite marathon runner?

The swing burns fat without the shame of aerobics while also building explosive strength and never-quit fitness. The swing has been a fixture in the training of top fighters and athletes since I brought the kettlebell to the West a decade and a half ago, and has sparked a number of scientific studies that have proved its advantages.

Now it’s your chance to see the Russian kettlebell’s might.

The First Steps

Start with the “Hard Style” swing when you first start working out with kettlebells. The swing is the heart of the kettlebell universe, a ballistic builder of both strength and fitness, and being able to complete one safely and successfully is a necessity for other kettlebell talents. You’ll be better at the other lifts if you improve your swing. Here are a few things to keep in mind before we get into good form:

  • Purchase a kettlebell from a reputable brand to begin. For most men, a 24kg/53lb bell is a good place to start. The power or load of the bell, even at this weight, is upwards of 500 pounds for a short duration at the bottom of the swing!
  • The kettlebell swing requires deadlift proficiency. It’s essentially a powerful deadlift that propels the weight forward rather than up. You’re ready to take on the swing after you’ve mastered the deadlift — heels planted, shins upright, spine neutral, abs braced, and so on.
  • Swing barefoot or with simple footwear. You should start swinging from a neutral and natural position.

The swing, like a punch, takes hours to train and a lifetime to perfect. You may get started by following the simple guidelines below.

Swinging Kettlebells

The movement’s fundamentals are straightforward: Place a kettlebell in front of you on the floor. “Hike pass” the bell back between your knees from a sumo deadlift position until your forearms make contact with your inner thighs. Push your hips forward explosively, propelling the bell to your chest level. Don’t use your traps or your back to raise it!

At the peak of each rep, squeeze your glutes. For the following exercise, guide the bell back between your legs. Complete all repetitions without lowering the bell. This is how it appears:

A man doing kettlebell weight lifting.

The kettlebell is positioned slightly forward of a line drawn between both feet. It’s worth noting that I reach for it while keeping my spine in a neutral position. The “hike” begins with this forward stretch.

A man doing kettlebell swing with legs.

It’s worth noting that the spine is still in a neutral position (always). The kettlebell is swung to the top position from this position, as seen in the following shot.

A man doing kettlebell swing near the sea.

The pinnacle of a kettlebell swing.

Aside from the fundamental motions, there are a few factors to bear in mind while swinging:

 

  • The back is unadorned. On the bottom of the swing, the neck is slightly stretched or neutral.
  • The feet’s heels, toes, and balls are placed, and the knees follow the toes.
  • The shoulders are overburdened (connected to the body).
  • During the backswing, the kettlebell handle passes over the knees.
  • In the bottom position, the arms are straight.
  • On the upswing, there is no forward knee movement.
  • At the apex of the swing, the body forms a straight line: the hips and knees are completely extended, and the spine is neutral.
  • On the way down, take a deep breath through your nose and expel with a “Kiai!” on the way up.
  • At the height of the swing, the abs and glutes flex clearly.
  • At the apex of the swing, the kettlebell floats for a brief period.

A Workout Routine Using Kettlebell Swings

For the first several weeks, practice your swings in groups of ten, taking as much time as you need between sets. If possible, do it every day. You’re ready for the next session when you can easily accomplish 1010 in 10 minutes.

Add the numbers from a pair of dice thrown twice. Consider the following example: (2, 5) + (2, 6) = 15. This is how long today’s exercise will last. (It may range from 4 to 24 minutes, but for the first several months, set a limit of 12 minutes.) Your goal is to complete as many flawless, crisp swings as possible in that period utilizing a certain set and rep pattern without coughing up a lung.

Rep ladders of 5, 10, 15, and 20 reps are to be used (50 total). Multiple sets of the same exercise with the same weight are referred to as a rep “ladder,” in which repetitions are gradually increased. Instead of pyramiding down, you start afresh from the bottom when you reach the top “rung”: 5, 10, 15, 20, 30… 5, 10, 15, 20, 30… 5, 10, 15, 20, and so on.

A ladder helps you to withstand a large amount of training without burning out and allows you to concentrate on technique. The ladder is one of the most reliable ways to gain strength.

While resting, do not stand or sit; instead, move about and shake off your muscles. This is critical for a variety of reasons that I will not go into here.

Pay attention to your body and go on to the next set when you’re ready. If you start the following set and find that the movement’s form/quality or pace has deteriorated, you haven’t waited long enough. The emphasis is on movement quality.

3–4 times a week, do the above swing routine. Continue to exercise your upper body as normal. It’s a good idea to include some form of squat, but it’s also OK to skip any other lower-body workouts for a bit. If you stick to this schedule for a few months, you’ll see how effective this workout is.

To you, Russian kettlebell might!

Make sure to listen to our podcast on kettlebells and training psychology:

 

Make sure to listen to our podcast on kettlebells and training psychology:

The chairman of www.StrongFirst.com is Pavel Tsatsouline. Pavel brought the Russian kettlebell to the West in 1998, kicking off the kettlebell revolution. Pavel is a former Soviet Special Forces teacher and a SME (subject matter expert) to elite US military and law enforcement special operations groups. Kettlebell Simple & Sinister is his most recent book.

 

 

 

The “kettlebell swing workout” is a popular exercise that can be done with a kettlebell. It is an effective way to build strength and endurance.

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