The swing is considered the most powerful kettlebell movement, it’s what they're famous for. This exercises boasts a multitude of muscular and skeletal benefits, as well as being “2 for 1” providing resistance and cardio training in one.
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Benefits of the Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell swings are initiated with a powerful hip thrust using your glutes and hamstring muscles.
Strengthen your core without crunches.
The abdominals remain engaged throughout this movement to stabilise, giving them a great workout.
Burn (a lot) of calories.
Combining weights with power brings your heart rate through the roof, training at this kind of high intensity will have a massive calorie burning effect as well as creating EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption.
Develop hip flexibility.
Our hips are fragile, so working on movements which develop hip hinge strength can help to prevent injuries and replacements in later life.
Condition lower back.
When performed correctly, the kettlebell swing helps develop strength in the back whilst carrying a load. If the lower back immediately aches when swinging, it’s usually the first signal of poor form, although it could be injury or many other issues.
Muscle pulls against the bone strengthening the bone as well as burns more calories than fat, the more muscle you have the better chance you're giving your metabolism.
Build CV endurance without a treadmill.
The high speed and duration of kettlebell swings elevates your heart rate continuously throughout the exercise like regular cardio, so you can skip the treadmill. (Or take it as extra).
Swinging a heavy object in front of your face requires considerable coordination.
Develop functional strength.
The kettlebell swing develops functional strength, great for incorporating multiple muscle groups and joints.
Challenge your balance.
The way the kettlebell swings it forces you to challenge your balance as your centre of gravity changes.
How to Russian-Kettlebell Swing
For the Russian kettlebell swing, we only swing the bell to in line with our shoulders. When the bell is taken above this height it becomes an American swing.
- Place the kettlebell about 30 cm infront of you on the ground and stand with a wide stand. Feet just outside your shoulders with your knees slightly bent.
- Bend at the hips to reach down for the kettlebell, keeping your back straight and your bum sticking out.
- In one swift movment lift the kettlebell as you thrust your hips forward, as your hips reach full extension the kettle bell should swing inline with your shoulders.
- As you allow the bell to swing back down return to your start position before firing up for the next swing.
Tips to Kettlebell Swing:
- Keep the motion fluid so you don’t stop between reps.
- Thrust with the hips, do not arch with your back.
- Don’t drag the kettlebell up, it should be the force of your hips causing it to travel, not your arms dragging it upwards.
- Breathe out as you thrust the bell forward.
What is the difference between a Russian Kettlebell Swing and an American Kettlebell Swing?
This one is a big debate in the world of Kettlebell training and there are arguments for why either exercise is better.
The Russian swing uses explosive power hinging at the hips to take the bell to shoulder height before swinging back to the start position. The American swing take this one step further forcing the swing all the way up above their head. This move is particularly popular in the Crossfit world who argue:
“We don’t do half rep pull-ups, we don’t do half rep squats, and we don’t do half rep push-ups. If there is a natural range of motion to any movement we like to complete it. To do otherwise seems unnatural.”
They have gone so far as to call the original Russian Swing a “half rep”. This is a difficult argument to make, as taking the bell over the head can lead to arching the back and has the potential to impinge the shoulder joint as there is the potential for flexion beyond the natural range of movement, at the moment when the bell passes the ears you are at most risk as it would be easy for the bell to continue moving passed the desired angle.
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