Why You Should Swing Kettlebell - CalisthenFit Health & Fitness Dublin

Why You Should Swing Kettlebell

Kettlebell or "Girya" (in Russian meaning "handle bell") has been around for quite some time, dated back to the 18th century. It has been used since by circus performers and athletes to build and exhibit strength.

Originating from Russia, that little cast iron tool can do lots of great things for your body.

cast iron kettlebell

The first time I heard about kettlebell, I did not think much about it. If you asked me about my first hands on kettlebell, I would say: “Meewwww..” I had some bad experiences from “trainers” who just did not teach the correct techniques and could not coach them properly. They were only interested in about showing off. I did not enjoy kettlebell back then as much as I do love them now.

I was intrigued and interested on why that piece of iron is such a powerful tool and why you should start using and swinging it.

I came across Valery Federenko and Pavel Tsatsouline, the man who brought kettlebell to the Western world and I was hooked.

Pavel collaborated with Dragon Doors, so off I went to get my Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) with them, so that I can coach properly kettlebell to people without injuring their lower back or having that cast iron dropping onto their head.

Before I get into more details, it’s important to learn a proper hip hinge before you swing a kettlebell. The “hinge” is the fundamental movement to learn in kettlebell but it is also a pattern that so many people have lost today.

If you can’t perform a hip hinge correctly, you’re calling for injury and should not swing a kettlebell before you get this right. I will write more about the hip hinge in another post but basically before your swing, your hinge should look like this:

Kettlebell Hip Hinge

There are 5 top reasons you should swing kettlebell:

Reason Nr.1 - Improve your posture: the lifestyle of today with too much sitting, hunching on computer and driving; all those lead to tight hips, rounded shoulders and sore back. When done properly, the kettlebell swing is the most effective way to work your whole body, correct it as well as strengthening your core and posterior chains – hamstrings, back, glutes, shoulders. The swing is an explosive movement and requires the contraction of all the muscles of your body to work and literally reverses all of the common poor postural patterns of today.

Reason Nr 2 - Force you to breathe: every single person that I work with, does not breathe. Or breathe improperly. Breathing is life and without it, you're dead. When exercising, you need to breathe even more and correctly to be able to perform. In the hardstyle kettlebell, you use what we call the power breathing that requires you to inhale through the nose and expand your stomach, then breathe out through your mouth with a sharp hiss – like a cat hissing – by contracting your core. 

Reason Nr 3 - Build strong powerful glutes: I wrote a while back a post about the importance of strong glutes HERE. By sitting too much, you’re turning off your glutes and those babies just aren’t working any longer. Swinging kettlebell emphasizes a hip hinge and requires you to engage and contract your glutes when you “pop” those hips forward. By activating your glutes, you’re stabilizing and putting your pelvis in a neutral position which can help reduce lower back pain as well as enhancing athleticism and gives you that nice strong looking booty.

Reason Nr 4 - Get you fit and increase your cardiovascular: majority of my clients want to get fitter and kettlebell swing will definitely get you there. If you have ever been hill sprinting, you will know how it feels. Swinging kettlebell will set your heart rate to be pumping like you never had it before. It is a ballistic movement that forces you to go up and down, by controlling the weight of the kettlebell trying to pull you away at the top of the swing and dropping your head and body at the bottom of the swing. It conditions your whole body due to its powerful, explosive and dynamic movement.

Reason Nr 5 - Shape your body by burning lots of fat: due to the nature of the swing and its metabolic effect, when done with a decent load and with intensity, it can burn lots of calories and fat during and especially post-exercise. The weight of the bell and resistance it creates will torch body fat and build strength and muscles to help you slim down and toned up. If you’re looking to burn fat and transform your body, I recommend a minimum of 300 kettlebell swings a day – minimum 16kg for a woman and 24kg for a man.

As my friend and great coach Dan John said: " A swing is a swing... Even if you do only 10, it's still a swing!"

Despites the great nature of the kettlebell swing, it’s important to remember that learning the proper technique and form are crucial to avoid injury and to get the best effects for your body.

If you don’t know how to swing kettlebell, learn from an experienced and certified coach – I know an excellent one !

Else look for a Russian Kettlebell Certified (RKC Here), Strong First (SFG) or Strength Matters (SMK) coach as we all have to go through months of training and preparations, to teach and demonstrate proper techniques, pass the required tests (especially the dreadful 5mins snatch) to be able to coach properly. It's not a weekend course that just hands you a piece of paper at the end!

To Your Better Health And Strength Every Day,


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Jeanne Le Bailly

Bodyweight, Strength and Fat loss coach. PN L1, RKC, PCC and Movement/Animal Flow instructor. Make your body move the way it's intended to...

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