Beginner’s Guide: Kettlebell Swing

It’s coming towards the end of summer here in Canada, ahhhhhh! Don’t get me wrong, winter here in Ottawa is gorgeous, but it does last a little too long for my liking. Which means that my family and I are taking every opportunity to enjoy the wonderful warmth of being outside. Because I know it is going to get cold before I know it, I try to plan a couple of my workouts in our backyard hanging out with the kids. With this in mind, I want to share one of my favorite movements to do in our backyard, the Kettlebell Swing!

Benefits of the Kettlebell Swing:
  1. works out your cardiovascular system
  2. works out your core and posterior chain
  3. increases endurance   
  4. increases athleticism and the coordination of your body   
  5. simply fun

As with a lot of the exercises I do today, I was introduced to the kettlebell while serving in the United States Navy. Right before we deployed in 2011, I became friends with one of the members of the air deck crew (the folks who worked on and flew our helicopters), this guy planned to get into shape during deployment by using what looked to me like a cannonball with a handle (kettlebell). During the course of the deployment my shipmate, worked out using primarily the kettlebell he brought on-board. Over the next few months I watched as this guy transformed in front of my eyes, he went from being a little overweight to very toned and muscular.

That was enough back then to convince me of the effectiveness of this piece of equipment, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I got my own kettlebell. As simple as swinging a kettlebell might sound it took a while before I got the movement down properly, learning to use my hips to thrust the kettlebell, but when I learned how to do it the right way, I immediately started to enjoy this exercise!        

How to do a kettlebell swing:
  1. Before you begin, think about this movement a little. You are not going to swing the kettlebell with your arms, you are going to move it with your hips. With your feet shoulder width apart, hold the kettlebell in both your hands between and in front of your legs. With the kettlebell gripped tightly in both hands, push your chest up and keep your back arched naturally.  
  2. Keeping your core tight, lower your body by pushing your butt back, the kettlebell should now be behind your legs a little.
  3. Drive the kettlebell forward in a swing by thrusting your hips (use your glutes and keep your core tight).
  4. As the kettlebell falls back, build momentum by explosively thrusting your hips for as many repetitions as you desire.

The Kettlebell Swing is deceptively simple, but please practice this movement with a light weight until your body can coordinate through it properly. I strongly urge you to research this movement further or find a trainer/friend to walk you through the steps before attempting it with a heavy weight.    

Like I said before, the best exercises are the ones you love to do, the Kettlebell Swing is just one of the many things you can do to work out. Thank you so much for reading and as always, cheers to your health!

More Fitness Beginner’s Guides:
David Smith

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