Kettlebell swings are an intense full-body workout. By swinging the weight between your legs and up to your chest, you raise your heart rate, build upper body strength, train your core, and work your lower body.
But according to new research, investing in several of the best kettlebells at different weights and progressively increasing the load over a few weeks can work your whole body and improve your endurance.
The study, published in the International Journal of Exercise Science (opens in new tab), explored the effect of two sessions of kettlebell swings per week. The 28 participants would exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 12 times during these sessions.
They were split into two groups; one group trained with a fixed (44lb) weight, while the others started at 35lbs, then increased the load by 8.8lbs every two weeks, finishing the six-week experiment with a 53lb kettlebell.
After analyzing the results, the researchers found that both groups got stronger, and their one-repetition maximum (1RM), the heaviest weight you can lift for one repetition, increased too.
Although the results were almost the same across all measures, the increased load group also showed greater muscular endurance than the fixed weight group at the end of the six-week study.
If you're wondering how the team assessed endurance, both groups performed deadlifts at 50% of their 1RM for as many repetitions as possible, with the variable weight group able to complete more reps before failure. Deadlifts and kettlebell swings use very similar muscle groups, so it's a good exercise to measure how the muscles have developed as a result of the kettlebell swing training.
Want to try this multi-muscle exercise yourself? Our how to do a kettlebell swing guide has everything you need to get started. The most important part is to focus on your form and keep your core active throughout.
Without support from your core, it's easy to start arching your back which can cause pain and injury, especially when working with weights. Once you've invested in a kettlebell, there are plenty of muscle-building exercises you can try.
If you're new to these weights, this kettlebell workout for beginners is a great place to start. There are swings (of course) alongside other multi-muscle compound moves like lunges, deadlifts, and squats.
To add some variety to your routine, you could pick up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells for customizable at-home workouts and then learn how to deadlift with dumbbells for another way to train your core and lower body.
James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer 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.
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