How to swing a kettlebell Russian-style
by Elizabeth Stacey Ellis, Strong First Certified Kettlebell Instructor
Kettlebell swings are an incredible exercise to have in your tool belt. Here's why.
BURN FAT. Swings are metabolically challenging, meaning they increase heart rate and burn fat, making them one of the most efficient exercises for fat loss without any impact.
BUILD MUSCLE. Swings are a form of hip hinge, meaning your power is coming directly from pushing your hips back, and snapping them forward. This engages the hamstrings and glutes, also known as the posterior chain, or the major muscles along the backside of the body. Swings add beautiful definition to the posterior chain.
INCREASE POWER AND STRENGTH. Swings require force. You must push the hips back at the bottom of the swing, and quickly and powerfully drive the hips forward in order to create the pendulum-like path for the bell to travel that is crucial for the swing. Training power increases your running, jumping and lifting efficiency, and is great for overall health. Working on swings also is proven to increase total body strength, not only in the lower body but in core strength as well.
BENEFICIAL FOR EVERYONE. Kettlebell swings are great for all populations, including those who need high-intensity, low impact exercises. For people rehabbing ankle, knee, or foot injuries like plantar fasciitis, KB swings are an incredible way to work strength, power and metabolic conditioning all in one.
If you don’t have access to an in-person coach who is experienced with kettlebells, follow the progressions below and take it safely one step at a time. If you are new to working out, I recommend mastering the kettlebell deadlift (demonstrated below) exclusively for a few weeks to ensure proper form and movement mastery.
It is really important to me that you honor your body and never push yourself through a variation that you are not yet confident in. I want you to think of working with kettlebells as "practice". Every time you touch a kettlebell, you are practicing your strength and technique.
Be a student of strength. And remember, it's not just about working out hard. It's about working out smart. It's about practicing beautiful and safe movement patterns that will give you strength not only in your training sessions, but in your day to day life too.