Switch squats for kettlebell swings to get stronger in just six weeks, study finds

This multi-muscle exercise builds strength and burns fat in just 30 minutes a week

Woman performing a kettlebell swing
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If we had unlimited time to exercise, we could experiment with every move and training technique. But when you need to be efficient with your workout time, new research has found that switching squats for kettlebell swings could be the best way to build strength.

Whether you train at the gym or work out at home, this is good news as you don't need much equipment, only one of the best kettlebells to get started. And according to the researchers, you'll see muscle-building results in just six weeks.

These findings come from a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The team wanted to explore the impact of the kettlebell swing on maximum and explosive strength and used the jump squat as a comparison.

They recruited 21 men between 18 and 27 years old for the trial and split them into groups focused either on the kettlebell swing or jump squat. Over the six-week experiment, both groups exercised twice a week.

Man performing a kettlebell swing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Those tackling the kettlebell swing would train for 12 minutes, alternating between 30 seconds of exercise and 30 seconds of rest. If the participant weighed less than 70kg, they'd use a 12kg kettlebell. While those over that weight trained with 16kg kettlebells.

By the end of the study, the kettlebell swingers recorded a 12% increase in maximum strength, compared to a 7.7% increase for the jump squat group. Similarly, both groups had substantial improvements in explosive strength.

However, the jump squatters had a 24% increase in this case, whereas the kettlebell group experienced a 15% improvement. As the authors note, this effect might be down to how they measured explosive strength.

To quantify this, they tracked the exercisers' vertical jump performance, and in that context, it's easy to imagine that squat jumps would be more effective. That said, the improvements in the kettlebell cohort were still substantial.

When discussing these findings, the team also mention that "kettlebell swing training may have a greater effect on horizontal explosive strength movements, like the broad jump, and, potentially, sprint performance."

This study showed the effect the move could have on your strength in a relatively short amount of time. So, you could take on the 100 swings each day kettlebell challenge or incorporate the exercise into your routine. 

As it only takes two short sessions a week to see results, you can pick up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells and use the best bicep workouts to build upper body strength throughout the week too. 

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.