The swing is a traditional kettlebell exercise with numerous benefits. Performed either two-handed or using one arm at time, the kettlebell is swung from between the knees to anywhere between eye level to fully overhead--kettlebell traditionalists utilizing the former while followers of Crossfit and other conditioning programs the latter. The swing exercise can also be performed with a dumbbell, weight plate or even a medicine ball in a bag if a kettlebell is not available.
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Performing a Kettlebell Swing
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell handle in both hands. Keep your weight spread evenly through your heels and forefoot. Bend your knees, descend into a quarter squat and push your hips back. Lean forward and lower the weight between your knees. Keeping your arms straight, your shoulders back and without rounding your back, thrust your hips forward and swing the kettlebell up to your preferred height. Allow gravity to pull the kettlebell back down as you push your butt back, bend your knees, and get ready for another swing.
Kettlebell swings are initiated with a powerful hip thrust using your glutes and hamstring muscles. In weight lifting, these muscles are, in conjunction with your lower back, referred to as your “power zone” as they are strongly involved in virtually all lifting, running and jumping movements. Using a heavy kettlebell for low rep sets will improve your muscular power.
Increased Muscular Endurance
Muscular endurance is your ability to generate sub maximal muscular contractions for extended periods of time. Moderate to high reps using a light kettlebell, combined with short rests, will help improve your muscular endurance. Your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, shoulders, arms and core muscles are all worked effectively during kettlebell swings.
Increased Aerobic Capacity
Kettlebell swings can be used as an effective aerobic exercise. Use a light kettlebell and perform high repetition sets of 50 or more reps to give your heart and lungs a workout. Kettlebell enthusiasts often work up to sets of 500 to 1,000 continuous reps. When performing high rep sets of kettlebell swings, try to set a steady rhythm and stick to it. Swinging in time to music or a metronome can help you to maintain an even swing.
Increased Anaerobic Capacity
You can perform interval training using kettlebell swings. Interval training is an effective way to improve your anaerobic fitness. Swing a moderate to heavy weight kettlebell for 30 to 90 seconds, rest for a moment or two and then repeat for as many sets as are desired. Your breathing rate and heart rate will accelerate dramatically and your muscles will burn as lactic acid is produced--the byproduct of anaerobic exercise.