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Kettlebell Swing Benefits Explained
In the 1700s, Russian strongmen developed kettlebells to increase their strength and endurance, especially during competitions.
This tradition has worked its way towards the modern world, where kettlebells have become crucial tools of every gym since they provide a full-body workout.
These tools are typically made of iron or steel, and you can find them in various weights, starting from an 8-pound kettlebell to as much as 80 pounds (some even go up over 100 pounds – crazy, right?).
The amazing thing about using kettlebells is the ability to create a full-body workout without the need for other fancy equipment.
In this article, we will discuss the mechanism of action that gives kettlebells their amazing properties, as well as the benefits you can expect from working out with these tools.
How do Kettlebells Work?
Generally speaking, strength training workouts do not include momentum-based weight listing to avoid any unnecessary injuries.
However, kettlebells are the exception to this rule, as performing these exercises using a kettlebell offers a myriad of health benefits, especially when done in the right form.
The sudden movement will immediately raise your heart rate and engage the vast majority of your core muscles, providing you with a quick, cardiovascular-friendly exercise while stimulating muscle hypertrophy, coordination, and joint stability.
Using the momentum created by your body weight, the kettlebell may increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as the trauma to the people sitting next to you. For this reason, it is vital to get comfortable with the movement and ensure that you are in control. To make this process easier, you may consider working on your body for a couple of weeks to gain some baseline strength.
Optimally, you will work with a trainer. Let the trainer work with you on proper form. You will be taught the proper ways of lifting, holding, and swinging the kettlebell.
If that option is not available for you, make sure that the sequencing is synchronized to avoid the overuse of your upper body, which can lead to muscle strains and joint sprains.
In order to perform the movements correctly and safely, remember that you’re not only using your arms or quadriceps to lift the weight. Instead, the entirety of your lower body (e.g., hips, hamstrings, glutes) is engaged to ensure the explosive, momentum-driven swing.
How to Get Started
As mentioned earlier, there is a risk with swinging kettlebells, especially if you are a beginner and/or using heavyweights.
For this reason, fitness experts and gurus came up with a simple guideline that dictates the appropriate weights one should use while taking into consideration age and gender.
Here are some commonly used weights if you’re just starting out:
- Men: 15-25-pound kettlebells
- Women: 8-15-pound kettlebells
The logic behind these relatively light weights is that they will allow you to focus on your form and technique rather than how to lift the kettlebell.
Of course, once you get too comfortable with a certain weight, it is time to level up a notch to maintain that previous tension on your muscle fibers.
For those who are not completely fresh in the field of strength training, these weights are recommended:
- Men: 35-pound kettlebells
- Women: 18-pound kettlebells
The optimal rate is to do kettlebell exercises 2-3 times a week, with 5-8 repetitions during every session. After a while, you may increase the weight and number of repetitions to keep the muscles engaged.
For those who are ready to step up the training with enhanced strength training, these weights are recommended:
- Men: 53-70 pound kettlebells
- Women: 35-44 pound kettlebells
It is not to say that you can’t go heavier than these weights, but this tends to be a common range. For heavier training at moderate reps, these are the most common weights.
Kettlebell Swing Benefits
Kettlebell swings offer a myriad of benefits, which made it difficult for us to summarize all of them in one list. However, we opted for the most important benefits to help you understand the value of this exercise.
Here’s a shortlist of the tops benefits:
Offers an Efficient Full-Body Workout
This is perhaps the most important benefit of kettlebell swings, as most other workout routines recruit a specific muscle group, which offers fewer health benefits and delays weight loss.
The most common mistake that beginners make when they start going to the gym is focusing too much on machines since it seems like they provide advanced muscle training. However, the benefits you can reap from these machines do not come close to what a full-body workout using kettlebells and/or dumbbells has to offer.
Putting your lower body in charge of the swing motion while stabilizing the kettlebell with your upper body, all the muscles are recruited, leading to extensive tissue hypertrophy and cardiovascular stimulation.
Stimulates Your Cardiovascular System
Once you swing the kettlebell to the air, your heart rate will rapidly augment to meet the demands of your muscles.
As you perform this exercise repeatedly, the heart will be pumping blood at a massive rate. This will result in your blood vessels expanding. This happens through the release of sympathomimetic neurotransmitters. This, over time, makes the cardiovascular system more efficient at delivering nutrients and oxygen to peripheral tissues.
What people don’t know is that most exercises offer either muscle hypertrophy or cardiovascular training, which makes kettlebell swings an exception to this rule.
Swinging the kettlebell engages the muscles in a similar fashion to other movements (e.g., running, jumping, lifting).
Over time, your musculoskeletal system will gain memory of these movements, which eventually helps you become more athletic. For this reason, kettlebell training is considered one of the best ways to prepare for upcoming competitions.
Induces Muscle Hypertrophy
As we mentioned above, the explosive movement of the kettlebell will lead to microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. These tears will require the body to initiate repair processes.
This ordeal stimulates the release of growth hormones (e.g., IGF-1, VEGF). These hormones can repair damaged fibers. In addition, they can also promote fiber growth as a way to adapt for future tension.
Here are the muscle groups that primarily benefit the most from this process:
- Core muscles (e.g., abdomen)
- Gluteal muscles
- Back muscles
- Arms and forearms
Kettlebell training requires a lot of concentration and coordination to perform the movements correctly. During each swing, your entire muscular system, along with the joints, will be working simultaneously to ensure the swiftness of the swing.
Most athletes find this very appealing. This often is why they include kettlebell exercises in their training routines, especially after traumatic injury.
Promotes Better Flexibility
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people have a sedentary lifestyle that gradually wreaks havoc on their internal and external organs.
Decreased flexibility and range of motion are common complaints seen in individuals of all age groups.
The hip articulation is particularly prone to this issue. As such, there is a need for regular stretching and exercising to restore its functionality.
The good news is that kettlebell exercises depend on the coordinated rotation of several articulations (e.g., hip, shoulder, elbow), making it the perfect exercise to improve flexibility and reduce injury.
Want More Kettlebell Swing Benefits?:
Burns a substantial number of calories
According to a study published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), 20 minutes of exercise using a kettlebell can burn up to 400 calories.
Compared to other exercises, this number is incredible!
Moreover, researchers found that the aftereffect of kettlebell training is also significant. This aftereffect process of repairing the muscles requires energy and calories.
In summary, the total calories burnt from this exercise makes it an extremely effective way to lose weight.
Neck and back pain are common issues amongst the general population. These symptoms could easily become chronic, which negatively impacts the lifestyle of patients.
Unfortunately, using conventional pharmacological drugs to address pain has numerous consequences, including tolerance, addiction, and intoxication.
Consequently, experts recommend finding natural solutions to manage pain. These can include the consumption of foods and herbs with potent anti-inflammatory properties. Further, it can include performing exercises that strengthen the muscles of the affected area.
For instance, working on your lower back muscles could significantly reduce the frequency and severity of back pain.
In one study, scientists analyzed have found that some of the kettlebell swing benefits include improvements in back pain and spine loading during various phases of the swing motion.
At the end of the study, they found that “some unique loading patterns discovered during the kettlebell swing included the posterior shear of the L4 vertebra on L5, which is opposite in polarity to a traditional lift. Thus, the quantitative analysis provides an insight into why many individuals credit kettlebell swings with restoring and enhancing back health and function, although a few find that they irritate tissues.”
In other words, kettlebell training relieves the tension of the vertebrae to help patients deal with pain.
Convenience of practice
Unlike other strength training exercises, working out with a kettlebell does not take a large space. Kettlebell training could easily be performed at any location (e.g., house, gym, backyard).
The portability and convenience of use make kettlebell training a popular choice among professional athletes and regular people.
Kettlebell training is a fantastic way to stimulate your entire body while taking advantage of the benefits listed above.
Hopefully, this article helped you appreciate the role kettlebell exercises play and how they could help you become more fit.
If you have enjoyed learning about kettlebell swing benefits, check out our Move page to learn about other ways to get healthy through movement.