Work Your Entire Backside With the Kettlebell Swing

Work Your Entire Backside With the Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing targets the often-neglected posterior chain and quickly raises your heart rate, making it a full-body strength and cardio exercise. But to reap the benefits of the kettlebell swing (and not get injured), you need to learn proper form.

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Kettlebell Swing Form And Steps

Here’s how to do kettlebell swings:

  • Place the kettlebell about a foot in front of you and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back flat, core engaged, arms straight, and a slight bend in your knees, push your hips and grip the kettlebell’s handle in both hands.
  • “Hike” the kettlebell to initiate the movement, swinging it back between your legs before swinging it up to chest height as you thrust your hips forward to return to a standing position.
  • Hike the kettlebell back between your legs to begin your next rep.

Make it easier: Use a lighter weight.
Make it harder: Use a heavier weight, or do a single-arm kettlebell swing, using the same form to perform equal reps on each side.


Mistakes to Avoid

Dr. Jordan Duncan, DC, owner of Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington, cautions against a few common kettlebell swing mistakes.

1. Squatting instead of hip-hinging

“Make sure your hips move primarily back instead of down, as that would turn the exercise into a squat,” Duncan says. “You can practice the hinge movement without a kettlebell by standing a foot or so in front of a wall (with your back to the wall) and moving your hips straight back (with minimal knee bend) until your hips contact the wall.”

2. A “floppy” kettlebell swing

“As your arms contact your body (corresponding to the time when you start the hip hinge), you want them to stay connected to your body until you explode up and let the kettlebell float during the upswing,” Duncan says. “Some athletes lose this contact between their arms and body, resulting in a loose, floppy swing.” Also, avoid using your arms or shoulders to initiate the kettlebell swing; the power of your kettlebell swing should come from your hip thrust.

3. A downswing that’s too short

“Another common mistake is not allowing the kettlebell to travel back far enough between the thighs at the terminal point of the downswing,” Duncan says. He suggests having someone hold a clipboard about a foot behind your hips so that you can hit the clipboard with the kettlebell on your downswing, ensuring that the kettlebell has traveled far enough.


Benefits of Kettlebell Swings

woman doing kettlebell swing in gym | kettlebell swing

When you consider the kettlebell swing’s benefits, it’s easy to understand why it’s one of the most popular kettlebell exercises.

1. Kettlebell swings work the entire backside of your body

The kettlebell swing is ideal for strengthening the posterior chain, or all the muscles that run along the back of your body, from the base of your skull to the backs of your feet.

2. Kettlebell swings are also an effective cardio move

The kettlebell swing will also get your heart pumping, making it a go-to cardio move for HIIT and circuit workouts.

And if you’re interested in improving your power and maximal strength, research shows that the kettlebell swing is an excellent option.


What Muscles Do Kettlebell Swings Work

You’ll feel kettlebell swings working most of your body, including your:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Core
  • Shoulders

The kettlebell swing’s hip hinge “requires powerful contraction of the gluteus maximus and hamstrings to extend the hip on the upswing,” Duncan explains. Your core muscles provide stability throughout the movement. “Athletes are taught to ‘break the handle’ of the kettlebell during the swing, which activates the latissimus dorsi muscles,” Duncan says.


Where to Buy Kettlebells

You can purchase kettlebells (including soft and adjustable options) at most fitness equipment and online retailers. However, you may need to shop around due to a surge in demand for home workout equipment, but here are a few popular options:

Rogue Kettlebells

rogue kettlebell | kettlebell swing

Get it from Rogue.


Cap Barbell Enamel Coated Cast Iron Kettlebells

cap barbell kettlebell | kettlebell swing

Get it from Amazon.


Yes4All Solid Cast Iron Kettlebells

yes4all kettlebell | kettlebell swing

Get it from Amazon.