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Examining The Kettlebell Swing; Good For Strength Or Not?

Examining The Kettlebell Swing; Good For Strength Or Not?

by: Brandon Richey–Get Free Updates And Training Guides Here

Examining The Kettlebell Swing; Good For Strength Or Not?

Investigate by cursedthing

Today I’m taking a closer look and I mean a “cat’s eyes” closer look at the effects of kettlebell swings on strength. The question is that are kettlebell swings good for strength or not? It’s that simple, or is it? Well if you want to know the answer then you’ll have to scrap the old “curiosity killed the cat” mindset and continue to read on!

The Breakdown…

So the kettlebell swing is essentially the center and is at the very foundation of most all kettlebell lifts. If you have ever performed the swing with effective technique and with any respectable amount of weight then you know that it is truly an a*s kicker! I would go so far as to say that the kettlebell swing could be summed up best by the great words of Roddy Piper:

Yep, that about sums up the kettlebell swing. If you’re all out of bubblegum then this is the a*s kicker thing for your training. So yes, I’m sold on the kettlebell swing. However, what does the kettlebell swing do for your strength?

Well the findings I’m going to present are going to be from a couple different variables. For one, I’m going to reference some personal experience, but on the other hand I’m going to reference a solid study from my certifying body the NSCA (National Strength And Conditioning Association). So let’s get down to it shall we?

The Facts…

Jason P. Lake & Mike A Lauder presented a scientific study of the kettlebell swing in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research back in December. The study compared the performing of the kettlebell swing using a 16kg, 24 kg, and 32kg kettlebell compared to escalating percentages of a 1 RM with the back squat and jump squat exercises. Now I’m not going to send you to Snoozeville with all the details of the study, but I want to explain the findings of the 32kg kettlebell swing when compared to the other exercises and their related percentages.

When looking at the numbers of the back squat and the jump squat exercises at the comparable percentages next to the 32kg kettlebell swing the peak and average force was higher in the back squat and jump squat exercise. Wow, you weren’t expecting me to say that were you? Well hold your horses I’m not done. However, the swing peak and the average power production during the 32kg kettlebell swing was higher than that of the back squat exercise and very comparable to the jump squat exercise! Are you still with me?

You can get your own 32kg (72 lb.) bell right here for more power production!

RCK Authentic Kettlebells

So in simple terms this means that the kettlebell swing is good for strength, but essentially it is more optimal for a different kind of strength! Basically this study showed that the kettlebell swing was tremendous for helping one to develop the ability to rapidly apply force to a given situation. A-HA, so the point is that it is good for strength, but seemingly it is better for a more power production type of strength rather than a more absolute maximal level of strength. Did you get all that? Let this sink in for a second.

So what can we learn from this? Well I would say that kettlebells are great for everybody, but for a moment let’s take a look at specificity. In other words, what types of athletic and active populations would benefit from the ability of one to be able to rapidly produce force in a specific situation? How about an MMA fighter? What about a football player? A baseball player? Well, basically all of these populations would require this and benefit from this trait! It’s specific to the demands, but this type of strength is very specific to the kettlebell swing. Remember we are only examining the swing and not the turkish get up or other slower moving exercises. Movement specificity is being considered under the circumstances and it should be in any related study.

Here’s more to help you with your kettle bell swing!

Enter The Kettlebell

Now I’ve always been pretty certain of this, but like I said the type of movement should be considered. Also the technique of the swing that was being used in the study was specified by Pavel. I just thought I should include that as well. The point being is that a soundly executed athletic swing with maximal force production would yield you these kind of results found in the study. Remember it’s not just about doing something for the sake of doing it. What’s most important is how you do it!

Here’s how you handle a real heavy bell! 

 Beast Tamer How to Master the Ultimate Russian Kettlebell Strength Challenge

The way I teach my students and when I’m performing the swing I execute it so that my body can project the greatest amount of force possible. I hinge at the hips to effectively stretch and load the hamstrings,I lead with my hips, and then I explode forward with the bell all while maintaining a tight compact position. This way the same load and power at my center mass can more easily transition from doing a two-arm swing, to a one arm swing, and even more readily to an overhead snatch.

As you can see I try to maintain the same constant movement by leading at the hips during all 3 transitions. This is why the arc of the bell is very tight (or close in proximity) to my body. It should be done this way so that you (or I) can maintain an effective center of gravity during the lift(s). Whew, I broke a sweat just trying to explain all of this. The point is that the lift and the way it should be performed is about efficiency. 

So the kettlebell swing is good for your strength, but it’s for a specific type of strength. Now I said that I would also reference some personal experience and I have explained some with my own training and with the video demonstration above, but my MMA guys have certainly experienced the benefits of this. All my MMA strength and conditioning students know this which is why they tend to be more explosive on the floor during competition. Being able to rapidly produce force is an absolute MUST in MMA! Plain and simple; you want to be faster than the other guy or you get your lights knocked out. They all love kettlebell swings. How’s that for personal experiences?

The bottom line is that kettlebell swings are incredibly valuable to your fitness and strength program. Obviously the swing lift offers an array of other benefits that I didn’t touch on today, but in terms of pure strength you now hopefully have a better understanding of its value. If you need some additional guidance and want to learn some more cool stuff and to kick more a*s when you run out of bubblegum then you need to get a copy of my Kettlebell Power And Speed Formula ebook right here:

Like I always say most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend. You see curiosity didn’t kill the cat this time! Let me know what you think of today’s post. Feel free to leave a comment or question concerning the article below in the comment box.

Related Articles: 

What’s Wrong With Your Kettlebell Swing? 

The Power Principle…

Strength Tip Of The Day…Simplify Your Training

Examining The Kettlebell Swing; Good For Strength Or Not?

















I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Yepper, KB Swings rock. I was able to convince my Son that KB Swings would up his game in a number of areas. It took a while because the weight just isn’t impressive when compared to what a person can load up on a bar. I have not encountered a study that really addresses the question of why the KB Swing generalizes so well. Perhaps you know of one or two?

    At any rate, regardless of formal study or not, direct personal experience has convinced me to include KB Swings in my work-outs and now my Son is convinced as well. Damned peculiar exercise in that it really doesn’t look all that impressive, however, the results are awesome and that’s what it is all about … results. Great article as always, Brandon.

    1. Hey Doc you are right on. The kettle bell swing is a peculiar exercise for sure. It’s amazing how much a 53 or 72 lb. kettle bell can get up your heart rate.

      The study I mention above (Jason P. Lake & Mike A Lauder presented a scientific study of the kettlebell swing in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research) was actually where I got my data for this article. It is a cool study.

      By the way Doc my YouTube channel got suspended so my videos are down for the moment. I just posted an article with an explanation of the whole experience today 5-29-14 so it’s up if you want to check it out. This sucks, but I just wanted to give you a heads up in case you couldn’t view any of my videos at the moment.

      Thanks again for your support and feedback. It’s been a tough couple days in damage control. Thanks again Doc.

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