When done correctly, the humble kettlebell swing is a full body workout. Not only do they strengthen the posterior chain (the muscles along the back of the body) and increase your heart rate in a short time, but they target the legs, arms and core. It’s a high-intensity, low-impact move, but what would 100 a day do to my body?
To learn more, I grabbed a kettlebell and started. Would 100 kettlebell swings a day for two weeks help me improve my posture and strengthen the muscles in the back of my body? I’m no stranger to a weird workout challenge – read what happened when I did 50 hamstring curls a day for a week here, or 100 dead insects per day for a week, but kettlebell swings don’t feature often in my strength workouts, so 100 a day was definitely a test. Read on to find out what happened.
Before you begin, remember that doing 100 reps of anything is a lot, and targeting the same muscle groups every day is not recommended. If you’re new to kettlebell swings or returning to the exercise after an injury, it’s a good idea to check your form with a personal trainer before adding reps or weight to the exercise.
How to do a kettlebell swing
The first thing to remember before doing a kettlebell swing is that the swing part of the movement comes from your legs, not your arms.
1. To do a kettlebell swing, start by standing on your exercise mat (we have a list of best yoga mats which double as exercise mats if you need suggestions) with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in front of you.
2. Bend your knees and grab the kettlebell with both hands.
3. Engaging your core, swing the kettlebell between your legs; then, as you swing upwards, engage your glutes and abs, and keep your arms straight as the kettlebell rises.
4. Aim to raise the kettlebell to chest height with your arms straight. Squeeze your glutes and slam your hips at the top of the movement.
5. Let the kettlebell drop naturally and swing it between your legs again for your next rep.
Of course, kettlebell swings can also be performed using a dumbbell, holding the weight by the plate, not the handle.
Remember that the motion of the kettlebell swing comes from your hips – you’re not lifting the weight with your arms. Think of your hips as the hinge of the movement — your lower body stays glued to the floor, your weight being back through your heels, and your torso moving forward and backward to balance the weight. The main muscles worked are along the back of the body – this is not a squat and a lift.
Be careful not to bend your knees too much during this movement (again, this is not a squat) and avoid leaning back at the top of the movement, as you will put too much pressure on your lower back – keep your trunk engaged to avoid this.
Learn more about how to do a kettlebell swingand variations to try here.
I Did 100 Kettlebell Swings A Day For 14 Days – Here’s What I Learned
Eager to master the movement, I grabbed a kettlebell and started swinging; here is what I learned.
This move worked my whole body
I did not expect to feel this movement as intensely as I did. It hit all the different muscle groups in my body, and I could feel my glutes and abs working hard as I rocked my kettlebell back and forth.
Doing 100 a day meant I tended to rush through my reps to get to the end, but moving too quickly through the kettlebell swings puts too much stress on the upper body when the movement should come from the legs.
Doing 100 swings a day was a lot
Besides feeling this exercise in my glutes and abs, after a few days of 100 reps I really felt the movement in my lower back. Worried about arching my back while exercising, I filmed my form and sent it to a personal trainer friend, who assured me I was doing nothing wrong but going from not doing a kettlebell to 100 per day was probably a bit of a jump. Over the next few days, I broke the challenge into four sets of 25 reps, keeping a kettlebell near my desk and doing 25 at different times of the day, rather than all at once.
As a reminder, to prevent lower back pain during kettlebell swings, remember to engage your core during the exercise. To do this, think about either sucking your navel into your spine or contracting your stomach, as if you were about to get punched. Learn more engage your heart, and why it matters.
I had a few blisters
Doing kettlebell swings is said to help you work on your grip strength – something I absolutely have to practice. Around the fifth or sixth day of my challenge, I started developing blisters on my hands from the kettlebell. It’s a sign that I’m not lifting weights as often as I should, but it’s still a surprise.
I found it easier to activate my glutes while running
On the days that I sneaked my kettlebell swings in before I went for a run, I definitely felt my glutes activate more as I put in my miles. Like many runners, I tend to have lazy glutes on the run, and I found that doing the kettlebell swings before stepping out of the gate helped me excite them while I ran. A study (opens in a new tab)published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that six weeks of kettlebell training improved explosive strength by nearly 20%, so maybe keeping the kettlebell as part of my pre-race warm-up will help me run faster in the long run.
I became more confident in movement
At the end of my two-week challenge, I managed to do a few days of one-arm kettlebell swings – a step up from the two-handed technique. These help increase the demands on your stabilizer muscles, and I definitely felt my shoulders work harder.
I will definitely be adding these to my strength workouts in the future
There’s no doubt about it – doing 100 kettlebell swings was one of my most boring challenges to date. Yet, despite the sore back and blistered palms, I really felt the benefits in my body. Of course, two weeks isn’t enough to see a physical difference, but I felt like I worked my lower body and core hard, and ran harder because of it.
I’m definitely going to keep kettlebell training in my routine going forward, but I’m looking forward to not having to do 100 swings tomorrow morning.
Looking for more inspiration? Read what happened when this fitness writer did it 100 kettlebell strikes a day for a weekbesides look at this 15 minute kettlebell ab workout.
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