Kettlebell swings are a fantastic full body exercise to burn fat, boost endurance, and build muscle in a short amount of time.
But whether you’ve just picked up your first kettlebell, or if you’ve been swinging one around for a while now, there are always ways to make the exercise more effective, and of course, more powerful.
Note: These same tips apply to both the classic Russian swing or the more CrossFit-esque American swing , whichever version you prefer to do.
Here are 5 tips for a more powerful kettlebell swing:
Use your hips
A lot of people start out trying to do a squat during the kettlebell swing, but this isn’t correct form—and it’s a bad habit to get into.
Instead, you should hinge from your hips and thrust forward to move the kettlebell.
Explode your hips as you transition from the bottom position to the top of the swing. This is what should get the weight up—not your arm strength.
The hips are the key to a powerful kettlebell swing, and what will help you do lots of swings in a row or swing crazy amounts of weight without hurting yourself.
Squeeze your butt
A lot of people forget to squeeze their butts during key movements. And it’s not entirely their fault that it doesn’t come naturally to do so—for some reason, butt squeezing is rarely emphasized, especially to early exercisers.
But the glutes are powerful muscles, and activating them will not only help protect your back during the kettlebell swing exercise, they’ll also greatly assist in adding power to your swing.
Squeeze them at the very top of the swing for tons of added power and protection.
Plant your feet
There’s a reason you’ve probably seen people swinging kettlebells with their shoes off—the power portion of the kettlebell swing begins at the feet, and big, bulky running-style shoes can really screw that up. If you don’t want to go barefoot, try wearing some minimal, lightweight footwear instead (I especially like the Nike HIIT trainers).
Regardless of your shoe choice, you want to make sure your feet are rooted into the ground as you get in your kettlebell stance. Think about pushing your feet into the floor as you extend up through the swing for added power.
Don’t hunch your back
Hunching your back during the kettlebell swing is a mistake that can result in injuries, and of course limit your power as well.
Your back should remain in a natural arch throughout the entire exercise. The best way ensure it stays that way is to engage your lats by pulling your shoulders back on the downward portion of the swing.
Also remember that on the way up, your abs should be flexed to help protect your lower back at the top position of the swing.
Proper breathing techniques can help add power to just about any explosive exercise, and kettlebell swings are no exception.
When thrusting your hips, powerfully exhale as you extend to the top position of the swing. I find it helps to actually breathe audibly out of my mouth so that I don’t ever forget to take a breath (it happens).
Use the downward portion of the swing to breathe back in through your nose.