The kettlebell is a gym in itself.
I have not found any other tool that produces such dramatic results with body composition.
Sure, nutrition is a MAJOR part of ridding the body of fat and getting lean, but outside of a focused nutritional regimen, kettlebell training and more specifically kettlebell swings are a godsend to those who seek fat loss.
I have seen a lot of talk about the kettlebell swing’s ability to increase conditioning, but the truth is that I am not entirely sold on the idea of using the kettlebell swing for boosting conditioning. I think that a fit individual who attempts to use kettlebell swings as a conditioning tool is going to quickly find that the volume of swings needed to elicit the kind of training effect needed to take one’s conditioning to the next level far exceeds the risks of overuse and mindless reps.
And quite frankly, extremely high rep sets is going to cause your grip to give out before your hips will. I guess I would rather use other tools for increasing my conditioning (ex: Airdyne, hill sprints, sled pushes/pulls, etc)
On the other hand, if you are a person who isn’t in game shape just yet, the training effect of kettlebell swings might be just what you need to mix into your workout regimen.
Either way, kettlebell swings are a great drill when performed with decent form, using a decent weight. When selecting a weight to use for swings, go heavier rather than lighter.
Your hips are the most powerful region of your body and using a heavier bell will eliminate that chances of cheating the bell up with the arms. Actually, “lifting” the kettlebell during the finishing movement of the swing is one of the biggest mistakes that I see in people. The arms should definitely remain “taut”, but there should be no involvement from the shoulders when exploding out of the “hiked” position into the vertical standing position.
I like to picture my arms as two pieces of rope attached to the kettlebell when swinging. My hand grip is not a death-gripped around the bell, but rather tight enough to keep control of the bell throughout the arcing motion.
The kettlebell, as I mentioned above, provides a fantastic opportunity to engage in a dynamic workout no matter what the occasion. I personally love to engage in “swing-only” workouts the day after a tough cardio-strength training session. If my body feels like it can handle the load of the kettlebell, I will go for a nice session of swings only. Nothing else. If I feel completely drained from the previous days workout, I will reach for the Schwinn Airdyne (aerobic based session) or simply roll and stretch and skip exertion altogether.
Long-term fitness is maximized when following a plan, but fine tuned and customized when you learn to listen to your body. If you can train, train. If you feel like you’re forcing everything that day, take a rest day and focus on hydration, nutrition and rest. There is no shame in that. I repeat, learn how to listen to your body and learn how to back off your training when it’s needed.
So, as the title of this post states, here is a simple swing only kettlebell workout that I have used in the past. I view these as practice. Swinging is an art, and I am not a master, although I do make a conscious effort to improve the efficiency of my swings, increase weight and continue to make forward progress.
Alternating for 24 rounds (Set #1):
—-> 15 seconds of 2-handed swings
—-> 15 seconds of rest
Total Time: 12 minutes
Depending on your fitness level, you can stop here, or you can rest for 2 minutes and move into:
Alternating for 24 rounds (Set #2):
—> 15 sec Right Hand 1-Arm Swing
—> 15 sec rest
—> 15 sec Left Hand 1-Arm Swing
—> 15 sec rest
… and so on.
Total Time: 12 minutes
24 rounds seems like a lot, but consider that each work set is 15 seconds long and it is not maximal effort. Why isn’t it maximal effort? Because while kettlebell swings are definitely physically demanding, they are not a movement that you can max out on. The bell swings as it will. It is very tough to increase the swing count per work set to a point where you are will reach heart rates or perceived exertion that will tap you out.
The glory in kettlebell swings is the muscular engagement combined with the cardiovascular training stimulus. This combination is pure gold for fat loss.
For a 15 second round, I am typically hitting 8-10 reps of kettlebell swings with a 28kg-32kg kettlebell. This is my swing count for both two-handed and the single handed swings. Single hand kettlebell swings call for a lighter weight bell and possibly a slightly slower rep count for the given work period.
*** Set a timer for alerting you when to swing and when to rest. I suggest a GymBoss Interval Timer, but you can use whatever is easiest. Ideally use something that doesn’t require you to work through mathematical equations in your head while trying to take in oxygen. Not fun.
Please take care and attention to your form. If it breaks down during the workout, put the bell down. There is no blue ribbon at the end of the workout for struggling through with shitty swing form. Only bad habits and increased likelihood of injury. After the first 24 rounds of 2-handed swings, rest (yes, rest), and re-group for the single arm swings.
If you don’t know how to swing a kettlebell, a workout like this is not the place to learn. If you can swing 2-handed comfortably but have never swung using the single arm version, again, this is not the place to learn. Practice your technique before you engage in a workout like this.
If you clear the prerequisites listed above for entry to a workout like this, my only comments left are: don’t be afraid of work and opening up those lungs babies.
Set a timer and go for it…
Cheers to swinging fat off your body in record time!
P.S. As I mentioned above, fueling your body appropriately will enhance your workouts and your results from those workouts. Precision Nutrition is the best nutritional program in the world right now.