With jobs, kids, a social life, and an all-around busy schedule, we are always in search of how we can get the most out of our training sessions and in the fastest amount of time. Enter the Kettlebell Swing. Just ask any typical “bro” at the gym, the Kettlebell swing is probably the first thing they do, right (insert sarcasm voice)? All kidding aside, the swing is a great lift, with numerous benefits that can not only make us stronger and mobile, but can also have carry over effects into our other lifts. So what are its benefits?
#1. The KB swing, if done correctly should be done with a hip hinging pattern, not a squat. The hip hinge allows more posterior body activation (hamstrings, glutes), which is something that many people lack. Overall, our society is front side dominated, rather because we do things incorrectly and only load the front of our body, or because when we take mirror selfies, only showing the front side of our body (please don’t be that person). Right now most of you reading this are probably sitting at a desk and/or looking down at your phone with your shoulders slouched over and your back in a flexed position (go ahead and sit up straight).
#2. The swing can help fix our posture. Because of the hip hinge, you will learn how to use your hips better, and not your back. So for any of us that sit all day and have bad posture, the KB swing can fix our posture, and the long list of problems that come from it, bad shoulders, lower back pain, knee pain, etc, I will have to talk about all of those another day.
#3. But what does the swing do for my appearance, I want to look good too!! We all do, and let’s be honest we all know that beach season is exactly 832 hours 45 minutes and 34 seconds away. The KB swing is ruler when it comes to butt and midsection activation. Have your attention now? Good! Because of the force our hips, glutes, and hamstrings have to generate in order to reverse the force of the KB on the downward swing, our backsides get lit up. We always hear people say, “make your lifts multi jointed to lose weight.” What they really mean is figure out a way to fire/activate multiple muscle groups at once. By doing this our body is forced to use more energy (calories), giving us a caloric deficit, and we didn’t have to spend any time on a treadmill. When the swing is done correctly, our abs/core must stabilize the weight, similar to in a squat. If our core is not activated, the swing will crumble and fail. The same goes for our backs, the lat muscles are used to stabilize the weight, and since the lats have been commonly referred to as “the glutes of the upper body” I would say activating those muscles as much as possible is pretty important.
#4. It serves as a safe alternative to Olympic Lifting. Right now you are probably thinking, “no way swinging a Kettlebell back and forth can replace the all- mighty snatch”, and if you can snatch 275-350lbs, yes, you are probably right, you would have to swing a pretty heavy KB to get the same effect from that heavy of a snatch. But for those of us that can’t snatch that heavy, the swing would be a great alternative. On top of not being a great Olympic Lifter, many of us have pre-existing injuries that may not allow us to Olympic Lift. The KB swing still allows for a great amount of power output, muscle activation, and overall strength. If a person struggles with an Olympic Lift, has history of injuries, or simply should not be in an overhead positon (baseball player), the KB swing is a great alternative.
#5. The metabolic component. Instead of running every day, or getting on a stationary bike, the KB swing can provide a “cardio” type effect on the body. Rep and set range for working on your cardio with the KB swing can range from 3-5 sets with 10-15 reps per set. If you are saying to yourself, “so I don’t have to do slow steady state cardio everyday”, then yes, you are correct. You not only get the metabolic advantages, but you are also building muscle, and the more muscle we have the greater our metabolism will be, and the more food we can eat!! Being around the holidays, I would say that is a pretty awesome reason for you to get in the gym and pick up a kettlebell.
1.) Posterior(back) body activation
2.) Fixes posture- help alleviate pain in our body
3.) Makes our body look better, mainly our butts
4.) Safe alternative to Olympic Lifts
5.) Serves as a metabolic function
Trainer at Forge-RX