How do you do the kettlebell swing ? This exercise has been around for hundreds of years. Originally, it was used as a tool to improve general strength and fitness in the Russian Army . Over time, it has become a popular training tool with many different benefits. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about this exercise, including how it works and what equipment you need to get started. We will also give you some tips on how to execute it so that you can perform this exercise safely and effectively.

What are kettlebell swings?

In recent years, kettlebell swings have grown in popularity. They are a quick exercise that strengthens the entire body. Kettlebells come from Russia (they are called "girya" in Russian). They develop great power and strength. At first, they were used to measure the weight of various merchandise, but over time they were used in strength competitions.

Today, kettlebells are popular in training programs like CrossFit and in athletic training programs. Because they're comfortable and relatively easy to use, they're also often included in high-intensity exercise routines for the average person. We will explain the kettlebell swing and its benefits , the muscles it works , how to do it correctly and the most common mistakes to avoid.

Swings are one of several exercises that can be performed with a kettlebell. This is a free weight that looks like a cannonball. It has a handle and is usually made of cast iron or steel .

Kettlebells come in a variety of sizes. You can use them for pushing exercises, swings, curls... Really, you can do any movement with them that you can do with dumbbells or a barbell.

The kettlebell swing exercise is thought to have originated in Russia during the 18th century. So people started lifting weights for fun. You will find kettlebells with different weights (16 kilograms or 36 pounds, for example). The classic swing is also known as the Russian kettlebell swing .

Kettlebell swing and muscles involved in the exercise

The  KB swing  is a full-body exercise that targets the hamstrings , quadriceps , and glutes .

The movement also strengthens the shoulders, arms, back, and abdomen . The pectoral muscles are also used in this exercise, although to a lesser extent. Kettlebell swings are   full-body, multi-joint exercises. They work the muscles of the upper and lower body. They also strengthen the trunk.

 In the kettlebell swing, which muscles are involved

Kettlebell swings target the posterior chain muscles:

- Glutes
- Hamstrings
Calves - Spinal erectors
- Trapezius
- Rhomboids

In addition, the exercise activates the abdominal muscles, anterior deltoids, pectorals, forearms and quadriceps a little, which are in the front part of the body. It will help you improve your grip strength .

How do you swing with a kettlebell?

The kettlebell swing how to do it correctly

To get the most out of swinging in your training and to prevent injury, it's important to learn how to do the KB swing correctly .

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a kettlebell with both hands (palms facing you). Begin with arms extended downward.
  2. Inhale and roll your hips back (move your hips) and slightly bend your knees to bring the kettlebell between your legs. Remember to keep your back straight and activate your trunk.
  3. Exhale, squeeze your glutes, and push your hips forward. Raise your body to a standing position. Let your arms swing the weight as far as you can naturally go. The goal is to bring the dumbbell to shoulder height or to a position parallel to the ground. You don't have to use arm strength to lift the kettlebell into the swing. It may take several movements to find your own rhythm and maximize lift.
  4. Take a breath and lower the kettlebell between your legs, pushing your hips back and slightly bending your knees. This is how you do a repeat.
  5. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps, or continue for as long as you like (for example, you could try doing as many reps as you can in 5 minutes . This is an example of the kettlebell swing exercise  in Crossfit ).

American and Russian kettlebell swing: the two variants

You should know that there are two ways to do this exercise. There is the  (original) Russian kettlebell swing and the American style . 
You will raise the kettlebell to different heights depending on whether you are doing an American or Russian kettlebell swing. In the Russian style, the dumbbell only goes up to shoulder height. In the American KB swing , you have to extend your arms vertically to bring the weight overhead.

Kettlebell swing ruso

 How to Do the Russian Kettlebell Swing

There is a discussion about which swing mode is better. The movement pattern in both exercises is identical, with the exception of the upper part. In both, start the kettlebell swing just below the groin, use a slight bend in the knee and a powerful thrust from the hips. You have to bring the kettlebell to your top while keeping your spine straight and neutral.

In the two movements, the abdominals, buttocks, shoulders and back are also strengthened, which will remain stable. Quite a few arguments indicate that the Russian kettlebell swing is better. Plus, it allows you to move a heavier weight because you don't have to worry about carrying it overhead (the latter could be dangerous to your shoulder joints and spine). The Russian version of the exercise allows you to increase your power output .

Russian swings are usually performed faster than American swings, as it takes about half the time to reach the top of the shoulders as it does the top of the head. The advantage is that we can use a heavier weight that increases hip power and shortens the time. Let's not forget to mention that stopping the weight on the shoulders contracts the abs and gluteus. More lateral muscles are also needed to stop the sway.

One downside to the kettlebell Russian swing is that it forces you to exert less effort by limiting your range of motion. However, when you factor in weight and muscle recruitment, the disadvantage vanishes.

Kettlebell swing americano

 How to do the American kettlebell swing

  1. To do the American kettlebell swing , stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place the kettlebell (with the handle below you) between your feet and in line with your toes.
  2. The first thing is to slightly flex the hips and push them back. Try to lower yourself with your hips until you can grab the weight. Keep your back straight (it should be a line from hip to bottom).
  3. Push up with your hips while staying upright. Roll your shoulders down and back. Squeeze your glutes and stomp your feet on the ground. When you explosively straighten up, the weight will first swing forward and away from your body.
  4. Use the power of the swing to push yourself back through the hips. Bring the kettlebell back between your legs, keeping your body aligned and tense. Do the movement with the hip and legs.
  5. Swing the dumbbell forward as you push through your hips and legs. At the top of the movement, the weight should be above your head.

All the benefits of the kettlebell swing

Do you want to do a specific exercise that offers you a lot with very little material? So, incorporate the  KB swing into your training routine.

Improve the stability and balance of the lower body thanks to the fact that you will gain greater flexibility in the hips, hamstrings and quadriceps (frontal plane).

Increases the range of motion of the hips, knees, and ankles (the posterior chain).

Improve your strength and explosiveness . Kettlebell swings greatly build strength and activate your muscles. You will improve your physical shape and gain performance and power.

The kettlebell swing burns a lot of calories . You can do high-intensity workouts to promote calorie burning in a short time. Also, after finishing this exercise, your metabolism will have increased temporarily to aid recovery.

Improves hip mobility .

Improve core strength.

Develops the muscles of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, lower back). Many other exercises only work the front of the body. However, the  kettlebell swing  works the upper and lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

Favor your cardiovascular system . Kettlebell exercises usually involve all parts of the body. They force the heart to increase its beating rate to pump blood.

It is a total body workout . To swing, you'll need to use your upper body, core, and lower body. You will work it all!

It is comfortable and easy to do . Most kettlebell exercises can be completed in just 10-15 minutes. You only require a kettlebell to get started.

Low impact activity . To use kettlebells, you'll keep your feet planted on the ground, which reduces force and pressure on your knees. For some users, this is a better option for getting a basic pump over high-impact exercises (like jump training).

What weights should I use on kettlebell swings?

Pick a kettlebell that will challenge you, but don't be silly. In a kettlebell swing, you should never feel like the weight is going to drop. If the weight is too light or too heavy, you won't get a good stimulus from your workout. If you have this problem, try taking another weight or reducing the number of repetitions until you are comfortable. Never sacrifice technique .

Determining the proper weight for the kettlebell will depend on your strength and experience. If you're a newbie, it's best to start with a lighter kettlebell. It will allow you to practice swinging motion with proper technique.

Although there are many weights to choose from, most beginners will start with a kettlebell that weighs between 10 and 18 pounds. You can also buy lighter weight kettlebells (such as 5 pounds or 2.25 kg), if you need them.

As you get fitter and stronger, you may need to increase the weight. Depending on your level of experience and strength, you can choose a kettlebell that weighs between 18 and 70 pounds.

For the American version of the exercise, the  International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation advises a 35 lb (16 kg) dumbbell for an average trained male, and a 17 lb (8 kg) dumbbell for an average trained woman. At a very advanced level, you could use 44 lbs (20 kg), 52 lbs (24 kg), or even 70 lbs (32 kg) weights.

swing with kettlebells

In what types of training can you do the KB swing?

You can get the benefits of this exercise in the following workouts:

  • •  Strength . Add it to a twice-weekly strength routine. Do 2 or 3 series of about 10 repetitions. When you master these sets, do a few more reps.
  • •  HIIT . Swing for 20 seconds, then rest for another 10 seconds. Do 8 sets of this and you'll turn the exercise into a HIIT (interval training) routine.
  • • Sports warm-up . Use lighter kettlebells, such as 4kg, to warm up your body and get active before starting other weight lifting routines.

Swing variations

The swing is one of the most effective exercises for building strength, power, and endurance, but there are other ways to perform this exercise to improve your fitness. There is no one way to do this move. Here you have interesting alternatives.

Kettlebell swing with dumbbell

 Can do kettlebell swings with a dumbbell

If you don't have kettlebells or want to try swinging with another material, dumbbells are a great option. You will be able to use high weights and maintain good form in the exercise.

Of course, the kettlebell is much more comfortable to grip. In addition, there is a kettlebell model with a swivel handle , which makes swinging even easier.

Dumbbell snatch

 Dumbbell snatch, exercise

The dumbbell snatch is another variant of the kettlebell swing. In this variation, you lift the weight just above the ground, instead of chest high as in the original exercise. It is also known as the "burpee style" as it can be used as part of a burpee circuit workout. You will be able to do multiple reps without having to move much between sets.

Kettlebell swing one hand

 Kettlebell swing with one hand

In effect, you can swing  with one or two hands . The movement of the kettlebell in this exercise will always be similar to that of a pendulum swinging between your legs and up to eye level (or overhead) while keeping your core tight and hips stable throughout the movement. .


There are some exercises to improve your kettlebell swing . You can also do the kettlebell clean, kettlebell snatch, kettlebell windmill, kettlebell goblet squat, or sumo deadlift with chin-up row.

Kettlebell clean
Kettlebell clean.
Snatch con kettlebell
Snatch con kettlebell.
kettlebell windmill exercise
Kettlebell windmill.
Kettlebell goblet squat
Goblet squat with kettlebell.
Sumo Deadlift High Pull
Sumo deadlift with chin up row.

Frequently asked questions about this exercise

Finally, review with us some frequently asked questions about the swing. We answer the most common questions.

How many calories does the kettlebell swing burn?

Let's talk about the  kettlebell swing and calories .  How much can you burn during kettlebell swings? This will depend on the intensity with which you do the exercise. It can be between 10 and 30 calories per minute , depending on the weight of the kettlebells you use and the number of repetitions you do. The duration of the training is also decisive: the longer you are training, the more calories you will burn.

It is not easy to calculate the amount of energy used in the swings, since it depends a lot on your technique and level of fitness. There are a few ways to estimate the number of calories you burn doing kettlebell swings:

- Take your weight in kilograms and multiply it by 2.2 (to get your weight in pounds).
- Multiply that number by 20 (the minutes required for moderate activity).
- Divide the result by 7 cal/lb to get the total calories burned.

Please note that this calorie formula is only an estimate.

*By number of swings : another method is as follows; 100 swings is approximately 100 calories burned.

The kettlebell swing is a good cardiovascular exercise and will help you burn belly fat. This movement works the entire body and uses your stored fat for energy. Yes, it helps to lose belly .

Does the kettlebell swing help build muscle?

Obviously yes. Rocking affects the whole body. You will see how you strengthen most of the muscle groups. Your hamstrings, glutes and calves will grow if you train often with the kettlebell. The muscles in the upper lat area are also involved in holding the dumbbell at shoulder height, and support your shoulders and spine when you squat.

However, to develop the muscles of other parts of the body, such as the arms or shoulders, this exercise is not so good. The swing works mainly in one plane of movement (front to back).

Do  the proper repetitions on the kettlebell swing . Kettlebell training can be specifically tailored for many different goals. If you want to gain muscle, do 8-12 reps spread over 3-5 sets. Use a heavy weight that approaches fatigue for the last few reps.

KB Swing to build muscle

Can I do this exercise if I am a beginner?

That's how it is. Even beginners can carry it out. It is important to master the hip swing before you start doing it. The move could be dangerous if not done correctly. This move is an excellent way to increase strength, power, and aerobic capabilities . It also strengthens many muscles in the body: glutes, quadriceps hamstrings, abdominal muscles, and upper back muscles.

It should not be done by people with low back problems or spinal instability due to an injury (such as a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease).

Can I do kettlebell swing every day?

No. This is a mistake that could lead to overtraining and injury. Your muscles will not be able to adequately recover between workouts if you swing the kettlebell every day .

Do not do high rep sets (high reps) with this exercise before performing heavy lifts like squats or deadlifts. Do not swing with a kettlebell if you have torn rotator cuffs, as this could aggravate the injury. Also, do not abuse the repetitions until you feel tired or exhausted. This is not good for improving performance! Give your body a break to recover and grow.

Frequent mistakes: how to do the kettlebell swing?

How to do the  kettlebell swing correctly? Although overall a very safe exercise, there are common mistakes that can slow down your results and lead to injury. Avoid the following:

  1. Lift the weight with your arms . Your lower body swing should propel the kettlebell up. The arms should only guide the weight and never lift it.
  2. Arch your back . Do not round your back or shoulders in the descent phase. This can put excessive pressure on the lower back. You need to keep your upper back and shoulder muscles strong to resist the force of gravity.
  3. Do a squat . All you have to do is move your hips to swing the kettlebell up and in front of your body. Don't do a squat movement, which would target the quads more and develop less power.
  4. Doblar las rodillas demasiado. Esto también produciría un movimiento de sentadilla, que reduciría la potencia y el impulso que buscamos.
  5. Not keeping your abs tight . Avoid a lower back injury and facilitate movement by keeping the trunk contracted during the exercise. 
  6. Swinging too fast . You must swing conscientiously and in the proper way. If you move too fast, you're only working your upper body. In this case, your bottom will not have enough time to exert force (and you could cause an injury).
  7. Not using the proper weight . The kettlebell should be heavy enough to be challenging, but not heavy enough to impair technique. Gradually increase the weight when you master your technique.
  8. Not breathing well . Take in air when bending and release the air when pushing the weight.

Use the kettlebell swing as a new exercise to get in shape. Try to do! You will strengthen many muscles with a single movement. In which sports can you do this exercise? You can use the kettlebell swing in crossfit, HIIT, bodybuilding or martial arts training. Build overall strength with this move. You don't need much to get started, just a kettlebell and knowing how to do the technique.

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