Change Your Body Swing by Swing

While any movement is better than no movement, certain exercises are more efficient than others. Next, to exercise bands, a kettlebell is my favorite piece of exercise equipment. If I had to choose one exercise for the rest of my life, the kettlebell swing would probably be the one.

Why are kettlebell swings such an impactful exercise?

Kettlebell swings are full-body exercises

Kettlebell swings work many of our last muscle groups, including the muscles of the back, hips, legs, shoulders, and core.

Kettlebell swings can help to prevent muscle imbalances

Prolonged periods of sitting can weaken our back and glute muscles while tightening the hip flexors. Kettlebell swings are a great exercise to loosen up tight hip muscles while strengthening the posterior muscles (glutes, hamstrings, low back, etc.).

The reason for this is called reciprocal inhibition, which basically means that a muscle who works as an opponent of a muscle has to relax during the activation of the other one.

Kettlebell swings can be used for effective HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) workouts

Kettlebell swings are an intense, full-body exercise and thus well suited for HIIT. For example, you can use them for Tabata-style workouts. “Tabata” is an exercise protocol that combines 20 seconds of intensive activity with a 10-second rest interval for up to 8 sets (4 minutes in total).

Kettlebell swings combine cardio AND strength training

The explosive movement of kettlebell swings increases your heart rate while working many of your major muscle groups (s. above). This allows you to train your cardiovascular fitness and strength at the same time.

Kettlebell workouts are effective to burn calories and body fat

According to a study conducted by The American Council of Exercise (ACE), kettlebell workouts can burn around 20.2 calories per minute, which is equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace.

Apart from that, workouts that involve large muscle groups help you to burn fat AFTER your workout. The reason for this is linked to the workout recovery process: exercise causes micro-tears within the muscle. To repair these muscle tears, the body requires energy (aka calories). This phenomenon is also known as the afterburn effect of exercise.

Last but not least, kettlebell swings are an effective way to build lean muscle mass, which metabolizes more calories at rest than fat mass. A pound of muscle burns around six calories per hour, while a pound of fat only burns approximately one to two.

How to perform a kettlebell swing:

  • Start in an athletic stance; feet are at least shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage your core.
  • Lower the kettlebell between your legs while bringing your hips back and bending your knees slightly.
  • Push your hips forward to initiate the swing.
  • Swing the kettlebell to shoulder height.

What are the key points when performing a kettlebell swing?

  • The kettlebell swing is primarily a hip exercise: use the power of your hips to initiate the kettlebell swing.
  • Squeeze your glutes while pushing the hips forward.
  • Engage your core the entire time.
  • Don’t swing the kettlebell over shoulder height to prevent shoulder injuries.
  • Chose a weight that’s challenging but not too heavy. If the weight is too light or too heavy, your form will suffer.
  • Most importantly: have fun!

In good health,

A word of warning: please check in with your healthcare provider before starting a (new) exercise program if you suffer from any chronic condition or are recovering from a sports injury.

Rike Aprea

My name is Friederike Aprea. Most people call me Rike. I'm German-born and have lived and worked in Japan and Korea before I moved to the US. I coach individuals and companies using the principles of Kaizen. Whether you want to live a more purpose-driven life, improve your health, or change the business model of your company: Kaizen can get you there. Step by step. Day by day.

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