Kettlebell Swings: Get To The Swing Of It!

It’s been a while since I talked fitness, and I figured it was time to introduce you to the Kettlebell (one of my favorite fitness tools), especially Kettlebell swings. And showcase a few key movements that I believe everyone should know how to do properly.

You’ve likely heard me say it before, but it’s worth repeating again: movement matters most! Any piece of fitness equipment is simply a tool to challenge movement patterns in a specific way.

Contrary to what equipment companies will tell you, there is no “best” piece of equipment.

There are some great tools that can be extremely helpful when used at various times throughout the movement spectrum. However, these tools are only helpful if you are using them with a properly performed movement pattern.

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Yes, it sounds simple, but go into any gym and you will see people doing all kinds of crazy techniques that are supposed to pass as working out. I mention this because Kettlebells are quite popular. You’ve probably seen them in the gym and may have even used them.

However, I guarantee you’ve seen more people using them incorrectly than correctly. Today’s post will hopefully set the record, and inspire you to start practicing a few of these key exercises today! As with any exercise, it’s important to receive a proper movement analysis from a qualified and experienced coach.

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This will ensure you are able to identify and deal with any potential injury risks while being confident you are following the most effective plan for your needs and current abilities.

Why Kettlebells

Kettlebells have been around for a few hundred years. They are simple, versatile, and highly effective tools to help you build strength, endurance, power, coordination, mobility, agility, conditioning, and confidence. Depending on how they are used.

They are different than dumbbells due to power, inertia, and some of the ways that KBs facilitate unique challenges to the body (including kettlebell swings, and rotational style loaded movements.)

The great news is they are also cheap and don’t take up much space. A few strategically selected kettlebells in your home can provide a wide range of incredible workout options available to you at a moment’s notice without needing to dedicate space to a home gym.

Styles and Weights of Kettlebells

Here is a video I did a while ago explaining the basic types. Sorry about the sound. I haven’t got around to reshooting it.

Basically, there are two types. “Standard”, and “Pro-Style”. Either one will work fine, but I’m a fan of the pro-style since they are all the same size, regardless of weight. The most common KBs you will find in a gym range from 4kg to 32kg. You can get them heavier, but most people won’t be ready for them.

The weight you should use depends on many factors. The primary two are:

  • Your current strength, stability, and conditioning level

  • The type of movement/exercises you are doing. For example, you will be able to handle a heavier KB for a 2-hand swing than you will for a slow overhead pressing type motion.

Other factors include the type of workout (strength/power vs. conditioning/endurance), fatigue level, and any other injuries. The key factor to consider with KB weights is that inertia and momentum completely change the stimulus on the body.

Someone who can deadlift 75kg with a barbell, may only use a 20kg KB for swings. This is because the forces produced by swinging 20kg create a completely different (and more challenging) stimulus on the body.

The Most Important Exercise: 2-Hand Kettlebell Swings

This is the foundation of Kettlebell training. It’s an excellent way to build a strong functional core, glutes, and hip power. If you run, jump, play sports, or just want a great butt and healthy back, mastering this exercise should be at the top of your list!

I’ve provided videos for 2-hand and 1-hand/alternating Kettlebell swings. Have fun!

Challenge Yourself with the “Kitchen Sink” Exercise:

The Turkish Get-up (TGU) is a fantastic exercise because it has so many valuable components. It takes (and builds), coordination, balance, control, strength, endurance, focus, and mobility.

In the beginning, it’s best to practice this without load (balance a shoe or yoga block on your hand) to gain skill at properly performing the technique. It’s a wonderful warm-up exercise and can be used for a variety of the reasons listed above, depending on how your program or workout is structured.

I’ve included this “What NOT to do” TGU exercise because I was actually blown away that a company such as Nike would put this online. Unfortunately, many people trust Nike, and are probably out there in gyms trying this movement…and being extremely frustrated by their lack of results!

Now that you’ve been (properly) introduced to Kettlebells, I hope you try them out.

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