The kettlebell swing is perhaps one of the most powerful and graceful ballistic strength movements you can possibly perform when it comes to checking the list off of some elite level strength and conditioning tactics to add to your training toolbox. Kettlebell swings demand many unique physical traits from you when you perform the movement.
The kettlebell swing elicits unique physical qualities and will provide you with unique strength characteristics to help transform your life, health, and performance—and here are 20 reasons why.
Reason 1: Combat Postural Imbalance
With the explosion of sitting jobs, technology, and the ever growing trend of living a cushy lifestyle, society has been plagued with an epidemic of bodies suffering from broken posture.
If this sounds familiar to you then much of this involves forward rounded shoulders and a slouching body that resembles folding up like a tent. This excessive forward leaning of the trunk and shrunken torso is known as anterior dominance. Kettlebell swings combat the hell out of this.
Reason 2: Reinforced Bracing
Right now if you take a pause from reading this to stand up and punch yourself in the stomach my guess is you’re not going to attempt that with a relaxed stomach. No, you’re going to tighten your midsection to absorb the blow without doubling over in pain. Kettlebell swings are like that constant punch to the stomach without a balled fist. They make you learn to brace your midsection.
Reason 3: Elicit an Athletic Response
Kettlebell swings are a ballistic movement, but require strong muscular control, grace, and timing. To control the arc of the swing you’ve got to develop some athletic qualities to hone your control over the movement and to continue progressing it to achieve greater reps and heavier swings. Kettlebell swings promote athleticism.
Reason 4: It’s Economical
For all intents and purposes kettlebell swings are economical. You can get in a hell of workout time and time again over a lifetime with kettlebell swings and you only need a single kettlebell to do it. So if you’re looking to cut costs then kettlebell swings may help keep your wallet fatter, but not your waistline.
Reason 5: Intense Caloric Expenditure
If you’re looking to blowtorch the body fat then kettlebell swings can help you with this very thing. Some well designed kettlebell swing workouts can help you to seriously ramp up your calorie burn due to the systemic stress placed on your body during the movement. If you’re looking to rid yourself of some excess body fat then kettlebell swings are a solid remedy.
Reason 6: Joint Preservation
Sure the kettlebell swing is a loaded movement, but swings do not place the same stress on your back, knees, and hips as compared to a standard deadlift or back squat. Because the weight is lighter and the movement is more ballistic the load stress is more manageable and less taxing on your joints. If you’ve got a handle on the technique then you can perform a lot of swings without joint pain, or wear and tear.
Reason 7: Optimal Cardio
If you want a crash course in what “cardio” feels like then I suggest you attempt a 100 or so crisp powerful swings. After returning the kettlebell to the ground from doing each set of swings that oxygen debt will hit you like a ton of bricks. Kettlebell swings can be structured for achieving a tremendous cardiovascular workout.
Reason 8: Posterior Chain Development
The kettlebell swing is not a squat movement. Instead, a proper kettlebell swing is done by hinging at the hips (similar to a deadlift) and engaging the posterior chain muscles such as the glutes and hamstrings. These muscles involve your power center and are necessary for athletic performance and overall function.
Reason 9: Grip Strength
After you’ve gotten a handle on the kettlebell handle for a few thousand swings your grip strength will also get a serious upgrade. Kettlebell swings are great for developing a crush grip and will build you some impressive forearms to help you in any strength demanding situation.
Reason 10: Great for Athletic Performance
As a strength and conditioning coach that has coached many competing fighters in MMA, BJJ, and Muay Thai I can tell you first hand that kettlebell swings have been a regular ingredient in their training. Kettlebell swings have proven to deliver on the athletic specific needs of these athletes every single time.
Kettlebell swings stress the nervous system in a very similar manner as striking the pads during sparring work. Kettlebell swings are tremendous for developing the speed, reaction time, and conditioning for fighting and every other sport, for that matter.
Reason 11: Efficient Hip Loading
When performing the kettlebell swing with proper technique the move is powerful. To pull it off you must be capable of integrating your posterior muscles while driving through your legs and hips firing your glutes and hamstrings to propel the kettlebell up from between your legs.
If you’re performing kettlebell swings with a high level of proficiency for a set of 20 to 30 reps every swing repetition should look the same from the first one to the last one. This is because you’re engaging the hips with an efficient loading pattern known as the hip snap.
Reason 12: Optimal Stabilization
Swinging the kettlebell in a working set becomes a battle between grounding your body in a tug of war with the outward momentum of the kettlebell swing. Once you engage the hip snap to propel the kettlebell out from between your legs into the arc of the swing, you must effectively ground yourself as the momentum of the kettlebell will try to pull you off balance. You must stand firm and controlled. You must have optimal stabilization to root yourself into the ground at the peak of each swing.
Reason 13: Kinesthetic Feedback
Because the kettlebell swing is such a dynamic and powerful movement once you’ve honed your technique, the arc of the kettlebell is created between two phases of the swing involving the loading of your hips (when the kettlebell is hiked between your legs) and the peak of the bell at the end of the swing (when the kettlebell is stalled out and at a float at the end).
Your objective is to get the bell from the hip load to the peak and from back from the peak to the hip load as quickly and efficiently as possible. This back forth process will involve the kettlebell giving you constant feedback so that you can keep producing momentum with each swing repetition.
Reason 14: Convenience
Kettlebell swings are a quick and convenient way to get in a day’s training if you’re pressed for time and space. When I have hurried days I like to grab 10 pennies. For a simple swing workout I may perform 20 to 30 reps per set with a moderately heavy kettlebell. After each set is completed I remove a penny to help me keep count of my sets. Once all the pennies are gone so is the day’s training.
Reason 15: It’s Easy to Apply the KISS Method
The KISS method (or Keep It Simple Stupid) is always a solid approach to training when you’re looking for answers and effectiveness for a good workout. Once you have a handle on the technique of the hardstyle kettlebell swing then it makes for an ideal KISS opportunity to be fulfilled for your workouts.
Reason 16: Increased Power
Muscular power is essential for athletic function and for being able to maintain a high level of functional fitness over the long haul. Kettlebell swings are great for building that posterior chain maintaining your ability to perform sprints, jumps, runs, and kicks for a lifetime.
Reason 17: Increased Muscular Endurance
In case you weren’t sure muscular endurance essentially involves your body’s ability to perform submaximal muscular contractions for extended periods of time. With kettlebell swings you can perform moderate to high reps while keeping your rest times brief. This allows you to achieve a high level of work volume enhancing your muscular endurance in your hips, glutes, hamstrings, back, and forearms.
Reason 18: Increased Aerobic Work Capacity
When looking to enhance your aerobic capacity you need to be able to sustain a work output for a prolonged period of time. Kettlebell swings allow you to do this. By engaging swings with a lighter bell you can perform up to 50 reps and beyond for continuous work tapping into your aerobic capacity. The key to this is making sure you try to set a steady rhythm of execution and stick to it.
Reason 19: Increased Anaerobic Work Capacity
Kettlebell swings are an easy method to use for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. These type of workouts can easily be accomplished by swinging a moderately heavy to heavy kettlebell for 20 to 30 reps.
The set is short, but intense, causing your heart to have to pay back the oxygen debt that you owe from the intense interval. This will tax your system, but after your recovery interval you can repeat the process over and over again to build up your anaerobic work capacity.
Reason 20: Improved Resiliency
Last, but not least, if you’re performing kettlebell swings with a high level of proficiency they will make your body more injury-proof and allow you to bounce back from most any intense physical situation. Your resiliency is the biggest sign of your fitness. Being able to bounce back from difficult physical and mental circumstances is something that kettlebell swings can help you to enhance in a hurry.
At the end of the day, if you’re serious about upgrading your strength, fitness, performance, and lifestyle kettlebell swings will cover the bill. There is a reason this hunk of iron has been around for hundreds of years. It’s here to stay so we all should take advantage of it.
Do you currently use kettlebell swings in your training program? If you’re using swings what are your training goals? Post up and share. If you would like to work with me in person, in the Atlanta, Georgia area, or online, please take a moment to visit my Breaking Muscle Brandon Richey profile to connect with me through my social media pages.