Amazing Benefits of Kettlebell Swing: Achieve a 6-Pack in No Time!!

Kettlebell swings are one of the most impactful and effective exercises that alone are enough to activate the body muscles. Being a full-body exercise, it works well for both the upper and lower body. However, if 6-pack/washboard abs are your goal, then you must be wondering, do kettlebell swings work abs? Yes, kettlebell swings can help you achieve well-toned abs. However, consistency is the key!

Kettlebell swings can help you in building abs only if you make effective use of them in your workout routine. This workout burns the fats, boosts the body’s metabolism, and keeps muscle mass. Not only this, but it also works for core stabilization. So, for maximum knowledge, let’s figure out, do kettlebell swings work abs or not!

What Is a Kettlebell?

A kettlebell is workout equipment that has a ball attached to a handle for lifting. When it comes to the kettlebell swing, it is a ballistic and posterior chain dominant exercise that works for the posterior body, abdominal and pectoral muscles. It involves swinging the kettlebell in a motion similar to that of a pendulum between the knees to anywhere towards the head.

kettlebell

There are two types of kettlebells:

  • Competition style kettlebells – These are made up of steel and are uniform in size with the same diameter regardless of the weight.
  • Classic Kettlebells – These are made up of cast iron and their size gradually increases with the weight.

If you’re new, then you must be wondering about how to choose your kettlebell weight? Well, if we consider ballistic exercises, then the ideal weight for people above 18 years ranges from 8-16 kg for women and 16-24 kg for men. They offer you a wide variety of exercises to enrich your workout routine.

People often ask, do kettlebell swings work abs? Well, yes they do. It not only works for abs but also works well for the entire body! Following are some of the beginner-friendly kettlebell exercises you can perform:

  • Swings
  • Sumo squats
  • Suitcase lunges
  • Kettlebell Deadlifts
  • Hand to hand swings
  • Figure of eight
  • Single-arm kettlebell row
  • Thruster

As a beginner, firstly you should learn how to use the equipment. This is because kettlebells are different from dumbbells which are comparatively easy to handle. However, while using kettlebells you can easily hurt yourself. So, when using them, keep your feet planted and shift the body weight on your heels. Be careful with your lower back and involve your lower limbs in locomotion.

How many kettlebells swing a day?- Well, if your workout is entirely based on kettlebell swings, then 300- 400 should be done. On average 10-12 reps of 30 swings can be done. However, if you’re new, then 100 kettlebell swings a day is also enough. You can start with less than 100 kettlebells swings a day and then gradually increase the count based on your goals.

What Muscles Do Kettlebell Swings Work?

The kettlebell swing is a full-body strength exercise that predominantly works on the muscles in the posterior chain, shoulders, abdominal muscles, and lats. This hip hinge movement incorporates cardio while strengthening the body’s musculature and works well for weight loss.

do-kettlebell-swings-work-abs

However, do kettlebell swings work abs? If yes, then which muscles do they target? As mentioned earlier, these swings work for hundreds of muscles in the body including the abdominal muscles. The whole of this exercise revolves around muscles that help in grip, stabilization, flexion, and posture correction.

Do Kettlebell Swings Work Abs?

Yes, the swings work for abs! For abs, you can try a combination of kettlebell swing variations which includes-

  • one handed kettlebell swing
  • two handed kettlebell swing
  • Kettlebell lateral swings

For well-toned abs, you can try American Kettlebell Swing and one-handed kettlebell swing. The hip hinge movement pushes your core to increase the force produced and also helps in developing the perfect abs. Each time you swing a bell, the abs contract. It’s better to keep the core braced during swinging because extreme core activation might lead to sore abs.

Do Kettlebell Swings Work Chest?

Although it is a full-body exercise but the swings can’t work for the chest in any way. This is because the entire force during the exercise is derived from the hip region. It is mainly a posterior chain exercise that can be paired up with chest exercises to enhance the heart rate. Other than swings, you can try the following bell exercises for the chest.

  • Pullover
  • Floor Press
  • Kettlebell Push up
  • Decline floor fly

Do Kettlebell Swings Work Biceps?

While performing the American swings, the overhead movement converts a few secondary movers into primary movers. The muscles include-

  • Biceps brachii
  • Deltoid (anterior region)
  • Pectoralis major
  • Coracobrachialis
  • Serratus anterior
kettlebell-swings-for-biceps

The above-mentioned muscles usually work as both movers and stabilizers. Movers work while producing force, whereas stabilizers maintain the shoulder joint’s position and prevent injuries. The swings provide your biceps, glutes, hamstrings, and lats with an amazing full-strength workout.

Do Kettlebell Swings Work Arms?

Kettlebell swings target muscles of the posterior chain mainly. The primary movers are the hip extensors such as hamstrings and glutes while the lower back works isometrically. On the other hand, the rest of the muscles involved are secondary movers.

So, the major work is done by the posterior chain and not the arms and forearms. This is the reason why people with shoulder problems can also swing the bells.

Many experts suggest that kettlebell swings aren’t for arms. It is a momentum-fueled exercise that benefits the entire body both internally and externally. However, it mainly works for the posterior chain.

Do Kettlebell Swings Work Glutes?

When it comes to kettlebell swings, hips are the star of the show! People who perform kettlebell swings are well-known for having a tight and round butt. The three muscles in your hip region are called glutes which perform abduction, rotation, and extension of the hips.

  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus minimus

These muscles play a significant role in maintaining pelvis stability and body posture. The kettlebell swing is an all-rounder exercise that can help in improving power and grip strength. Heavier kettlebells work well for hip power and for the musculature shape in the posterior region. So, if you want others to turn heads, then kettlebell swings can help you tone up your butt!

Do Kettlebell Swings Work Lower Back?

The major muscle in your back is the erector spinae. It is a group of muscles and tendons which runs through the length of the spine. As the name indicates, it extends the spine and helps in standing erect.

kettlebell-swings-lower-back-workout

To brace the abs, throughout the kettlebell swing workout this muscle keeps the spine erect. It works isometrically and its continuous contractions stabilize the back. The swings work dynamically but overuse of such muscles can lead to injuries. Sometimes due to lack of hip mobility, the swinger can suffer from back pain because of not keeping the spine in a neutral position.

Kettlebell Swing Types

Mainly there are two types of kettlebell swings. They are:

  • Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing: This is hinge based kettlebell swing. A swing pattern that utilizes the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes). It’s best to perform this move with good ground connection for stability, power production; a flat sole shoe or barefoot is preferred when swinging.
  • Kettlebell Sport Swing: This is pendulum based kettlebell swing. The motion of the kettlebell sport swing is double knee bend compared to more traditional hardstyle swings. This allows for stretch reflex from hamstrings, which helps scoop up and secure the bell in its upward trajectory while ensuring that it does not hit your legs with full force.

But there are many variations of the kettlebell swing. Some of them are –

  • single arm swing
  • one kettlebell double arm swing
  • two kettlebells double arm swing
  • suitcase swing
  • high swing

There are three versions of the kettlebell swing. They are –

  • Russian Kettlebell
  • American Kettlebell
  • Sport Style Kettlebell

Russian Kettlebell vs American Kettlebell

There are two types of swing versions, Russian and American swing. Both of them are somewhat similar. The lifting is initiated in the same way in both of them. However, the actual difference lies in the end position. The Russian swing stops at the chest level, whereas the American swing continues overhead.

Russian Kettlebell Swing

This exercise is initiated by slightly bending the knees, keeping the chest up, and driving the hips back or in short the “athletic position.” The performer now bends down to grab the handle of the kettlebell. After grabbing it, the performer will swing it with hip extension against the force of gravity up to the chest level.  Now, gravity takes the bell back towards the floor.

russian-kettlebell-workout

Russian swing is usually preferred because it allows the swinger to swing heavy kettlebells without the fear of any injury. This is because Russian swing is limited to chest area only which also increases the power output due to increased weight.

Another benefit of Russian swing is the decreased rep time. It takes very little time as compared to the American Swing because of the less distance. However, it is notorious for limiting the work but this argument isn’t valuable once you consider the muscular involvement and power output.

American Kettlebell Swing

This swinging exercise is the same as the Russian one. It starts with an athletic position and the kettlebells are swung above the head and not stopped at the chest level. American swing takes a lot more time than the Russian one due to which power output is also affected.

Above all, it does not allow a swinger to lift heavy weights because it could impose a threat to the most unstable joint of the body, the “shoulder joint.” So, one can only have access to the light kettlebell. If you have weak shoulders, then you should avoid practicing American swings.

american-kettlebell

Now the never-ending debate is, which method of swing is better, American or Russian? Well, we’ve told you all about both of them. Now, it’s your decision to choose one. However, both of them provide you with effective movement patterns.

The American swings enhance endurance and working capacity. On the other hand, the Russian swing recruits the lats and improves the grip strength. To choose any one of them, consider your workout goals, current fitness condition, and past experiences. Lastly, seek professional advice from your coach.

Kettlebell Swing Benefits

Covid19 has ruined our body posture as the majority of us had spent our time sitting in front of the screens during quarantine. This not only led to a terrible posture but also suppressed the goal of having perfect abs! To correct that, we need something effective and not so time-consuming.

Kettlebells are versatile workout equipment, which not only burns fats but also improves cardiovascular health. This full-body workout routine can fix your hundreds of problems as they not only build muscles but also enhance endurance. Following are some of the kettlebell swing benefits you must know:

Involvement of a Variety of Muscles

Kettlebell swings involve the entire body’s muscles and also help in strengthening them. If you are thinking that it targets the lower body only, then you’re wrong. This is because they work on abdominal muscles, the whole back, anterior chest (pecs), shoulders, and the posterior body chain including, the hamstring, glutes, and core. Hence, they involve a majority of the body muscles and even small stabilizers in the workout routine efficiently!

Improves Your Heart Rate

It not only helps in shedding the unwanted pounds but also improves the heart rate. Kettlebell training and swings are among the best cardio workouts that can help you increase cardiovascular endurance. As it improves cardio, it directly promotes the oxygen uptake in the lungs that affects the body’s circulation.

Strengthens Body Muscles

Usually, specified exercises work for particular body muscles. However, a kettlebell workout works for the whole body! The swinging helps in strengthening the core, hamstrings, glutes, the whole back, abdominal muscles, and pectoral muscles also.

Helps in Shedding the Unwanted Pounds

When it comes to weight loss, Kettlebell swings (KBS) can do wonders! They can help you burn up to 600 calories within 30 minutes. This means a person can burn up to 20 calories in 60 seconds which is far better than running for miles! However, the burning of calories is regulated by the size of the kettlebell and also how it is being used.

Supple Body

KBS is not only a strength-building exercise, it also enhances mobility and makes the body flexible. While improving athleticism, the exercise effectively strengthens dozens of muscles. It helps you maintain body balance by engaging the core.

While swinging, in a standing position, the glutes and hip flexor work alternatively. When the glutes are engaged, the hip flexors are relaxed and vice versa. Each time you swing, the stretching of hip flexors enhances pelvic mobility. On the other hand, a heavier kettlebell activates the hamstrings which directly influences the flexibility.

Core Strength

The swing mostly targets the major core muscles. The forceful swing strengthens the muscle as they move against the force of gravity and momentum together. Similar to the core strength stabilization, it also improves the grip strength.

Grip strength is the muscular strength generated by the muscles of the forearms. When it comes to workouts, grip strength affects all the exercises. So, an improvement in grip strength influences your daily workout routine.

Reduction of Back Pain 

KBS reduces back pain and makes the back even stronger. The right way of swinging helps in relieving back pain and makes it resistant to injuries.

Conclusion

The kettlebell swing is a diverse exercise. The hip hinge movement strengthens the muscles, maintains body mass, improves heart rate, and burns calories. Even if these swings are all you’re doing in your workout session, they’ll definitely benefit the whole body.

These swings involve the posterior chain and lower back mainly. The shoulder stabilizers prevent any injury while the lower back acts in an isometric fashion. If you’re still wondering, do kettlebell swings work abs? Then, rest assured because if swung with the right frequency, it can surely help you achieve the perfect abs!

FAQs

Is kettlebell swing good for belly fat?

Unfortunately, there is no such exercise that can help you lose fats from a specific part of the body. To lose fat, you need to lose more calories than you’re consuming and put your body in a calorie deficit. The kettlebell swing is a full-body workout that can work for abs, strengthen the muscles, burn calories and also help in burning body fat including that of the belly region.

What is a good weight for kettlebell swings?

While choosing the weight, you must consider your age, experiences, the diameter of the handle, and fitness aims. The kettlebell swing is an example of ballistic exercise. So, the ideal weight of kettlebells for ballistic exercises is-

  • 16kg and 24kg kettlebells for men above 18.
  • 8kg and 16kg kettlebells for women above 18.

Is 20 minutes of kettlebells enough?

According to a study, 20 minutes of using kettlebells can burn calories equal to running a six-minute mile. This exercise can burn up to 20 calories per minute. So, a 20 minutes workout session can help you lose as much as 400 calories. Within a week, for losing 1 pound one has to lose 3500 calories. With this exercise, you can burn 1200 calories per week by working out thrice a week for 20 minutes. The fat loss results will be visible within 30 days.

Is it OK to do kettlebells everyday?

Yes, it is OK to do this exercise daily but keep in your mind that kettlebell exercises are intense. As much as the workout is important for your body, it also needs rest. So, give your body adequate time to recover and enjoy your daily workout sessions.

Can you lose weight with just kettlebell swings?

Yes, kettlebell swings involve the entire body muscles and not only strengthen them but also help in losing body fat. It is well-known for burning a greater amount of calories in a smaller period. While building muscular strength it also improves the heart rate. In a nutshell, the kettlebell swing is one of the best fat-reducing exercises.

How can you do kettlebell swings without a kettlebell?

There is no way you can do swings without a kettlebell. However, you can use dumbbells instead of kettlebells for swinging. You can perform the same exercise by holding a dumbbell in your hand. On the contrary, you can perform other alternative exercises which target similar musculature. Such exercises include hip thrust, Romanian deadlift, sumo deadlift, and banded pull through.

What exercises can you do with a kettlebell that will work your abs?

There are a variety of exercises for abs. However, make sure these exercises don’t leave the abs exhausted. So, it’s better to practice these exercises at the end of your workout routine. Following exercises can be performed-

  • Kettlebell Turkish Get Up
  • Kettlebell Russian Twist
  • Kettlebell Windmills
  • Kettlebell Sit-Up
  • Kettlebell Lateral Swings

People often ask, do kettlebell swings work abs? The answer is, yes! Swings increase the jumping power and involve all the important muscles of the body.

Dr Umme Hurayra

Hi, I'm Umme Hurayra. I am currently studying MBBS in Mymensingh Medical College. Medical science is an incredible thing. I like to share my knowledge with everyone.

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