The Swing exercise is the foundation of hardstyle kettlebell training methodology and an essential exercise in our training programs at The Strength Clinic. The hardstyle Swing is an explosive movement characterized by a vigorous and complete extension of the knees and hips (in the top position) preceded by near maximal hip flexion and slight knee flexion (in the bottom position). The Swing is known for its effectiveness in improving performance in daily life activities as well as performance of athletes of the most varied modalities, from long distance runners to combat sports, among others. We can point out five reasons that make the hardstyle kettlebell Swing an exercise of choice for athletic development:

  1.  Strength. The acceleration and deceleration component inherent to the Swing induces important adaptations in the power production capacity despite the relatively light loads used. Reminding Newton’s second law (force = mass x acceleration), it is possible to increase force acting on a given system by increasing acceleration without increasing mass. In this case, the real load manipulated during some moments of the Swing performance will exceed the weight in Kg of the kettlebell, where peak forces generated can be up to 10 times more. This allows for significant maximal strength gains especially in the posterior chain;
  2.  Power. Due to its explosive nature based on a fundamental movement pattern (i.e. “hip hinge”, used in deadlift exercise). The vigorous extension of the hips and knees is at the base of any explosive athletic movement. The Swing not only allows you to work explosive strength, but also allows you to do it in a cyclical and repetitive way, and also in a very safe way. This feature constitutes an advantage of the kettlebell Swing in terms of benefit / risk, when compared to the Olympic movements like the Snatch or the Clean for power development. The Swing is not only less technically complex to learn, it allows greater number of repetitions without fatigue compromising (in a dangerous way) technical execution;
  3.  Trunk stability and rotational strength. The biofeedback offered by holding a kettlebell and the need to balance the forces generated by the acceleration and deceleration of the kettlebell, induces a marked activation of the stabilizing muscles of the trunk and shoulder joints. When performed with one hand, the Swing further accentuates muscle activation in a crossed chain fashion due to the anti-rotational component created. This type of rotational power generation manifests itself in the most varied sports movements, such as: the golf swing; the serve, forehand and backhand stroke in tennis; shooting in handball; shooting and serve in volleyball; shooting and kicking in soccer; throwing events in track and field athletics; etc;
  4.  Muscle and cardiovascular endurance. Due to its particular design, the kettlebell Swing allows repetition of explosive movements with maximum or near maximum acceleration. This possibility of safe repetition with an additional load delivers significant muscle and cardiovascular endurance adaptations;
  5.  Fat loss. Because it entails the stimulation of large amounts of muscle mass at a high intensity and repetitive way, the kettlebell Swing induces high metabolic stress levels. This metabolic stress results in increased oxygen consumption in the subsequent hours (i.e., increased calorie expenditure due to increased metabolism), thus contributing greatly for fat loss.

Indeed, the inclusion of the kettelbell Swing is a wise choice when structuring a well-rounded training program. The Swing is also highly versatile in terms of programming. By combining different loads, number of repetitions, rest periods and variations of the exercise (e.g. two-handed Swings, one-handed Swings, double Swings, dead stop Swings), one can easily shift the pointer in order to work on specific adaptations of the strength continuum (i.e. from the maximum strength end to the muscular endurance end) as well as on the various energy systems. And all this in a very safe way!

A 12-week fat loss program suggestion

Get a kettlebell (at least 16kg for women and 20kg for men) and have it in your living room or bedroom. Learn how to perform the hardstyle swing exercise with a certified instructor. Every day, whether you train in the gym or not, perform 5 sets (spread throughout the day according to your own convenience) of 20 swings during the first week, 25 swings during the second week, 30 swings during the third week and 35 swings during the fourth week. On the second month repeat the process with a kettlebell at least 4kg heavier, and on the third month with a kettlebell 8kg heavier. At the end of 12 weeks rejoice with the results!

Swing and enjoy…! 🙂

Nuno Correia