Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kettlebell Swings- A total body exercise

Kettlebell Swings- A great exercise 

One of my very favorite exercises is the Kettle Bell Swing.  It works all the large muscle groups and it is just fun to do.  I was super pleased to see this exercise in the program I am doing now, INSANITY Asylum Volume 2!   Here is how to do a proper kettlebell swing and an exercise routine you can do at home.

Why kettlebell swings are so great 

A survey of scientific literature (12 published peer reviewed articles) conducted by Bill Campell, PhD, CSCS found that kettlebells are both safe and effective in improving power and strength performance.  It works the large muscle groups, thus getting a greater calorie burn by getting your heart rate higher and strength aspects by helping you build muscle.  

If you watch the way many people perform kettlebell swings, you may think the point is to move the weight around. But during a proper swing, perhaps more than in other weight-bearing exercises, the kettlebell simply reacts to the movement of your body.

That's right: The kettlebell swing isn't really about the kettlebell. It's about you, and how you control your body and move around the kettlebell. Since you, like most people, are probably accustomed to thinking in terms of moving weight, it may be difficult to grasp this at first. So let's take the load out of the equation entirely for the moment.

The Right Way to Swing a Kettlebell

There are two positions you need to become familiar and comfortable with if you want to maximize the significant benefits of the swing. It may sound backward, but the first position is the finish position. Here's how you perform it:


Stand with your feet placed outside your shoulders, either pointing straight ahead or turned slightly out, whichever is more comfortable to you.

Clench your hands into loose fists. Hold your arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground, with elbows locked and hands touching.

Pull your shoulders down into your waist, away from your ears. You should feel some tightness under your armpits. Those are your lats. You may never have felt them like that before, but this sensation is crucial to the swing, so remember it.

Tighten your abs like you're bracing for a punch. Don't bend forward, though. Just try to lock your ribcage to your pelvis.

Finally, squeeze your glutes as tightly as you can, like you're pinching a coin between your cheeks. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders through your hips and knees down to your feet.

Now Let's Get Swinging!

1.) Set your feet in the same position they were for the finish position.

2.)  While your eyes look forward—head up and chest out—push your hips back. Fold into your hips, keeping your weight over the middle of your foot, slightly toward your heels. As you do this, your knees will bend to some degree. This is OK, but if you do it correctly, you'll feel your hamstrings, not your quads. Now hold that position.

3.)  Think about performing a vertical jump. But instead of placing your arms outside your legs, move them between your legs. However—and this is crucial—keep the angle of your body steady. Only move your arms.

4.)  Feel your hamstrings stretch. Remember, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The more stretch you can get on your hips and hamstrings, the more powerful your swing is going to be. 

5.)  Thrust your hips forward while raising the kettlebell up to a little over eye level.  Keep a firm hold on the handle, but allow the kettlebell to swing a little.  

6.)  Find this position repeatedly, at least 3-6 times, and just like the finish position, hold it about 6-10 seconds each time. When you do it correctly, you'll feel it.

What weight should you start with?

A good starting point is 35 Pounds for men and 15 pounds for women.  I am currently using a 30 pound kettlebell in my workouts. 

Here is a great Kettlebell circuit you can try at home 

Do as many rounds of this circuit as you can in 15 minutes.

Kettlebell Swing - 15 reps

Wall Sits- 30 Second Hold

Burpee - 5 reps

I hope this help you perfect your kettlebell swings!  These are a great addition to any workout! 

I coach people for FREE and I would love to help you with your fitness goals.  Email me at with "This is my year" in the subject line and we can chat about your fitness goals! 

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