Credit: Kettlebell Facebook Page
Why choose between cardio and strength building? With the kettlebell swing, you can have two workouts in one. The swing is not only an arm exercise, but also combines a hip hinge, a hip thrust, and a bit of a vertical explosion, without your feel ever leaving the ground. Here are some ways to effectively use the kettlebell swing to its full potential:
Starting with the kettlebell between your legs, hold the bell with one arm. Swing it back and forth like a pendulum. When the kettlebell swings back, rock to the heels of your feet. This movement stretches the hamstrings and activates the lats of the back. When the bell swings forward, rock towards the balls of your feet, which will open up your hip flexors and engage most of the muscles of the posterior chain in your back and legs. Keep your knees slightly bent, but not too much–you don’t want to turn this into a squatting motion.
Some trainers prefer the two armed kettle bell swings, which utilize both arms, but I like to perform them with one arm at a time or alternating arms. In fact, by using two arms at the same time, it can be difficult to breathe–this is especially common in men with broader shoulders, since the handle of the kettlebell is quite narrow.
The height your kettlebell swing can vary. It doesn’t have to be completely horizontal at chest level. You can play with lower swings while you develop the coordination necessary for the full movement.
Don’t count reps but instead, go for time. Generally, the number of swings and the speed at which you do them will make it difficult to count accurately. I recommend that you time yourself: start at 20 seconds, move to 40, and eventually swing for 60 seconds.
The kettlebell is a great way to work a variety of muscles–it’s quick, easy, and doesn’t require clunky machinery.
– Bill Garelick, DOWNTOWN’s Fitness Editor