What’s the point of the kettlebell swing? It’s a legitimate question that many clients ask.
Of course, the answer isn’t short and the move itself isn’t easy to learn, either. But in the end, it’s well worth it.
To do a swing, you start with the kettlebell on the ground. With both hands on the handle, hike the weight between your legs, then snap up to attention and swing the bell forwards. From there, you stay in a back and forth swinging motion until the set is it over and you put it down.
Let’s quickly think about the muscles involved. Your hips (glutes) are perhaps the most important contributor to the movement. When you swing the kettlebell forwards the glutes contract and push the hips forward, creating enough force to swing the weight.
The hamstrings, a companion muscle to the glutes, also contribute to that motion. Your lower back muscles keep the back from rounding as you swing back and forth. While the big muscles of the legs and back move the weight, your forearms work hard to keep the kettlebell from flying away. Don’t be surprised if your hands and forearms hurt after a set of swings.
When you do the kettlebell swing, you probably won’t feel any particular muscle burning. That doesn’t mean there’s no benefit, it means that you’re doing a total-body movement and the strain is distributed throughout your body.
As you perfect your technique with the kettlebell you can go up in weight to make the movement harder. You can also focus on speed and try to get more reps with the same weight during each round. There are multiple ways to make the movement harder.
When you increase the difficulty of the weight your muscles, lungs, and heart work harder. Kettlebell swings require muscle strength, speed, and endurance. As you make the exercise more difficult, you’ll start to feel more of a burn and feel breathless.
If you’re just starting with swings, be patient. First, you have to learn proper techniques so that you don’t injure yourself. Since it’s a fast movement, there’s a chance you can tweak something if you’re not doing it correctly. However, as you get better and increase the difficulty, you’ll feel the exercise more and the benefits will come.