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How to Do Kettlebell Swings

The Kettlebell Move You Need to Burn Fat and Tone Your Legs, Butt, and Core

If you've shied away from kettlebells because you're a dumbbell kind of girl, you're really missing out! This magical piece of equipment can be used in so many exercises that not only strengthen your muscles but also get your heart rate soaring, burning calories — kettlebell training burns an astounding 400 calories in 20 minutes. For comparison, a 30-minute run only burns about 300!

If that's not reason enough to pick up a kettlebell, you'll feel an amazing sense of power and confidence when using one, similar to how you feel when lifting a barbell overhead. In other words, you'll feel like a badass.

Here's one of the most basic kettlebell moves you can do called the kettlebell swing, more specifically, the American Swing. You'll find this in CrossFit workouts and bootcamp-style classes, and I've even done this at Barry's Bootcamp using a dumbbell.

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Although this swinging movement looks like it's all about the arms, the work is focussed in the legs, butt, and core. You don't just swing your hands forward but rather engage the core, load weight in the hips, and thrust the pelvis forward to propel the kettlebell.

  • Stand with your feet wider than hips-width apart, toes slightly pointing out. Squat down, and pick up a kettlebell with both hands. Allow it to hang between your legs.
  • With a flat back and your core engaged, inhale to bend the knees and push your butt back. The weight should be back in the heels so your knees are in line with the toes.
  • Keep your abs strong and the arms straight. On an exhale, press into your feet, squeezing the legs and glutes as you aggressively explode up, extending through your hips and legs to stand, which drives the kettlebell overhead. If you have mobility issues in the shoulders or lower back or an injury, do a Russian kettlebell swing instead, where the bell only raises to shoulder height.
  • Inhale, and with control, come back to the starting position, allowing the kettlebell to swing back between your legs.
  • This counts as one rep.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock
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