Being called an uptight yippee when you’re trying to concentrate is not much of a compliment unless you’ve been busting your butt in your workout kingdom and focusing on core strength and toning up. Then, being called out for having rock hard glutes or the tightest of tight tushies when you walk in the gym door will make you nod, smile and secretly thank the staple of kettlebell exercises you’ve perfected; kettlebell swings.
What is a kettlebell swing?
Kettlebells have been described as a cannonball with a handle. That description is apt because they give you a big bang by kicking butt. Kettlebells allow for powerful dynamic swinging action (yeehaw!) that strengthens muscles, increases joint range of motion and stability and gets the heart pumping. What’s more, because of their popularity, the humble hunks of handled weight are easily found in most gyms today, which isn’t surprising since kettlebells have serious staying power.
These hefty beauties have been wielded around since the 1700’s. Can you think of any other piece of exercise equipment that have been used effectively and safely for several centuries to help individuals build balance, strength, flexibility and endurance by enabling dynamic weighted movement? They have proven their mettle. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently sponsored research that “demonstrates that kettlebell training significantly boosts aerobic capacity, while also improving core strength and dynamic balance.”
While kettlebells are versatile and can be used to train all major muscle groups in the upper and lower body; from triceps to biceps, quads to hamstrings and many muscles in-between. The kettlebell swing is the staple of a kettlebell workout.
How do you properly perform one?
To do one properly, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes forward. Grab a kettlebell with both hands. Start with a conservative amount of weight until you’ve mastered the form and built-up foundational strength. Keep your back straight, arms long and bend your knees as you swing the ball between your legs. Then, quickly thrust your hips forward (kapow!) and use leg strength as you lift your chest. Let the kettlebell swing to chest height so your arms are extended in front of you. Aim for a set of 12-15 repetitions to start, and build up to doing 2 or 3 sets.
What are the benefits?
Kettlebell swings have significant benefits when it comes to core strength and stabilization. Being a dynamic movement, the swing recruits major muscles throughout the core including muscles in the glutes, thighs, abdominals and back. The muscles learn to work together to execute a controlled fluid movement against the forces of gravity and momentum, which means better coordination for both athletes and individuals seeking general fitness, alike. Fluidity in joint and muscle movement, coupled with increased strength decreases the likelihood of back pain and injuries in and outside of the gym. Take a hint from history. Pick-up a kettlebell and swing your way to the realm of legendary glutes, core strength, stability, and power.