Kettlebells have increased in popularity in the U.S. since they were made famous by Russian fitness trainer Pavel Tsatsouline around the turn of the century. Kettlebell training often focuses on performing a high number of repetitions with less weight than traditional barbell weight training. According to kettlebell expert and personal trainer Mike Mahler, kettlebell swings improve your hamstring strength, and in turn your leg speed.
Proper Form for Greater Returns
Before you begin to contemplate how many times a week you should perform the kettlebell swing, you must be exercising with the best form possible so you get the greatest returns from each repetition. Former competitive gymnast Greg Glassman states that proper kettlebell swing form means that you swing the kettlebell all the way over your head and not just to eye level. When using this form of the exercise, you will work your muscles harder with a lighter kettlebell, thus reducing your chances for injury.
Sets Per Week
Certified personal trainer Alex Stewart states that you can safely perform 12 to 15 sets of upper leg exercises per week. These exercises should be split between your quadriceps and hamstrings, so at the most you can perform six or seven sets of kettlebell swings in a week without a worry of overtraining. However, it is best to train your muscles with a variety of exercises and focusing exclusively on kettlebell swings for your hamstring development may not give you the best results possible.
Five by Five
Mahler advocates even fewer sets per week of any single kettlebell exercise. He states that five sets of five repetitions from the kettlebell swing is sufficient to work your hamstrings at a maximum and improve your size and strength. On the same day that you perform your kettlebell swing sets, you should perform an equal number of sets that work your quadriceps, such as front squats.
Signs of Overtraining
Your body may respond differently to training with kettlebell swings, so you must pay close attention for signs of muscle fatigue and overtraining. If you feel a sharp pain in your leg, stop performing the kettlebell swing immediately. Use rest, ice, compression and elevation to treat a pulled hamstring. If you notice a loss of strength, fatigue or an inability to achieve a muscle pump after your workout, you may be performing too many kettlebell swings a week.