I was first introduced to Kettlebell Swings three years ago by a friend of mine who swore that KB swings did more her clients than any other exercise. I was somewhat skeptical, but she’s been a trainer for the better part of fifteen years so I decided to give it a go.
I started by buying a 16kg and a 24kg kettlebell and working them into home workouts. I’ve since began to notice more and more gym-goers adding swings to their workouts, and for good reason, they’re a do-it all workout.
I spent six months doing nothing but variations of kettlebell swings, turkish getups and goblet squats. The result? I wound up in the best shape of my life.
Reason 1: They do more for your squat and deadlift than any other exercise
During those six months, I didn’t do deadlifts or traditional squats. Logic would hold that my deadlift and squat strength would decline. I was shocked when I was able to add 40lbs to my deadlift. Even more shocking, my squat strength also improved.
This is such a common occurrence that it’s received it’s own nickname “The What The Hell Effect”. This article does a nice job of explaining why, but the short answer is kettlebell swings build explosive strength and they also will do wonders for your posterior muscles. Muscles that are fundamental for both squats and deadlifts.
Reason 2: They do wonders for tight hamstrings.
If you grew up playing sports and have spent the past 15 years sitting at a desk you probably have three thing: tight hamstrings, short hip flexors and poor posture.
Prior to my KB swing workouts the last time I could touch my toes was the twelfth grade. Now, I’m not only able to touch my toes from a standing position, I can slide my first knuckle under my feet. At the bottom of every swing, your hamstring flexibility will be challenged, which explained the reason for this new-found mobility. With each passing week I could see a noticeable improvement in virtually all aspects of mobility.
Reason 3: They’ll help your posture
Swings are a great exercise for posture for a few reasons. First, if you’re performing swings correctly your shoulders are going to be drawn back which naturally activates your lats and your core is going to be engaged. It’s hard to have poor posture when your shoulders are packed and your core is slightly engaged, the kettlebell swing does a great job of encouraging this position.
Second, underdeveloped glutes can lead to poor posture. Having weak glutes is extremely common because of how much time we spend on our ass. As we discussed above, swings build a rock solid posterior.
Reason 4: Build Bullet-Proof Grip Strength
The first thing I noticed after my first swing workout was how sore my forearms were. More than anything else I have noticed my grip strength has gone through the roof.
After your first few days of kettlebell swings you’ll likely feel it in your forearms. Hanging on to a kettlebell through a set of swings will do wonders for your forearms. As add weight and build in variations like one-handed swings, swings to racks and alternating swings you’ll continue to challenge and build your grip strength.
Reason 5: They make for an incredible cardio workout
If you’re looking to improve your cardio or burn fat kettlebell swings should become your best friend.
The best part is you only need 10 minutes a day. The protocol is very simple, perform 10 sets of 10 two-handed swings each day. If you are new to swings I would recommend the average male start with 16kg and the average female start with 8kg.
Reason 6: You can build entire workouts around swing variations
Kettlebells are the perfect tool for complexes. Moving from exercise to exercise is seamless and rarely requires you to drop the kettlebell to move from one to the next. Swing variations typically form the back-bone of these complexes, many of which can be done in under 10 minutes and will do more for you than your traditional one hour gym workout.
This is a very simple kettlebell workout that is a good starting point for beginners.
There are so many combinations that can be done with a 16 or 24kg kettlebell your workouts will never get stale or boring.
In the past two or three years I’ve noticed most gyms have started to add kettlebells. And if you’re not a member at a gym, you can buy a 16kg and a 24kg kettlebell for about $150 or build your own. Kettlebell swings might very well be the most economical and efficient way to get in shape. They take very little time, demand very little in terms of equipment and can offer a true full body workout.
Take the 30-day swing challenge, perform 10 sets of 10, 5 days a week. You’ll be amazed the results.
John C. is a physiotherapist student who also holds a BSc. in Kinesiology as well as a Master’s Degree in Biomechanics. When he’s not studying or blogging over at Brace Access you can find him at the rink doing what all good Canadian boys do, playing puck.