Pure Gym Limited

Kettlebell Swings

What is a kettlebell swing?

The kettlebell swing is a great exercise to strengthen your core, shoulders, quads, hamstrings, glutes and back. It's also a great functional exercise which can burn around 400 calories in 20 minutes - which is equivalent to the burn you'd get uphill cross country skiing.

Using an explosive motion emanating from your hips, glutes and hamstrings, the kettlebell swing can boost your muscular power and endurance so you're better equipped to perform everyday activities such as walking, lifting and turning.

The repetitive nature of this high-intensity full body exercise can also help boost your aerobic capacity resulting in enhanced cardio fitness so you can do more for longer.

If you're keen to witness dramatic changes to your fitness you will find our top tips for getting started below, including a how-to guide to performing the perfect kettlebell swing.

PureGym members can get to grips with a kettlebell and master their swings in our free Pure Kettlebell class, which is available at most gyms.

For more kettlebell exercises, check out our beginners guide on how to use the kettlebell.

Check out our other glute exercises: Burpees, Mountain climbers


Are kettlebell swings good for abs?

Kettlebell swings work your abs and core when performing the exercise correctly, as the core helps to control the movement. Bracing your core when performing kettlebell swings is recommended to help maintain a flat back and avoid injury.

Does kettlebell swing burn belly fat?

The kettlebell swing is a great total body that can help to strengthen your body and at the same time improve your cardio fitness. It can help burn fat, provided you are in a calorie deficit which is key to fat loss.

What part of the body do kettlebell swings work?

The kettlebell swing is a full body exercise that works the glutes, hamstrings, back, shoulders, and core.

Kettlebell swing tips

  • If you're using kettlebells for the first time, start with a lighter weight until you get used to the feel of the weight and motion of the exercise.
  • One of the best ways to warm up before picking up the kettlebell is to practice the swinging motion but without the weight in your hands.
  • Once you've picked up the kettlebell, try and keep a loose but firm grip on the weight to avoid causing unwanted tension in your neck and shoulders.

Kettlebell Swing Variations

How to do a two handed kettlebell swing

Level: Beginners

Equipment: Kettlebell

  1. Stand with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. Lower into a half-squat and pick up the kettlebell with both hands so your palms are facing your body.
  2. Keep your core tight and a slight bend in your knees as you straighten your legs pushing from the heels and explode through the hips and swing the kettlebell to chest height.  
  3. As you swing the kettlebell down between your legs, return to the half-squat position. That's one rep.
  4. Complete the required amount of reps.

How to do a one arm kettlebell swing

Level: Intermediate

Equipment: Kettlebell 

  1. Walk up to the kettlebell.
  2. Stand with feet hip width apart. Half squat and grab hold of the kettlebell handle with one arm.
  3. Brace the core and hike back, allowing the kettlebell to swing back in between your legs, then squeeze the glutes and swing the kettlebell to chest height.
  4. When it reaches chest height, grab the kettlebell with the other arm, making sure you've got it, then let go the other hand. You may find you might need to practice a bit with timing at the start to get this right.
  5. Allow the kettlebell to swing back down between your legs, return to the half-squat position.
  6. Complete the required amount of reps.

How to do an overhead kettlebell swing

Level: Intermediate

Equipment: Kettlebell 

This exercise is also known as the American kettlebell swing and is a continuation of the kettlebell swing.

  1. Stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Grab the handle with both hands, keeping palms facedown and hips square.
  3. Drive your hips back, allowing the kettlebell to swing between your legs, then drive the hips forward, allowing the momentum to drive the kettlebell to swing forward and all the way up towards the ceiling as you bring your arms up and overhead.
  4. Allow the kettlebell to follow the same path as it comes down, maintaining a braced core, and let it follow through between your legs.
  5. This counts as one rep.

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.