Swinging a metal ball around does not only sound challenging. By pressuring your body in the short term, kettlebell swings can also offer many long-term benefits.
One thing you do want to keep in mind is that there are also ways to overdo it.
If you have a sensitive lower back, you likely want to start with light kettlebell swings so that these benefits don’t come with downsides.
1. Kettlebell swings can strengthen muscles
While kettlebell swings are not entirely in this category, you can still say that they are somewhat of a resistance training exercise.
In any case, doing kettlebell swings with enough weight and repetitions can improve mass, endurance, and/or strength in a variety of areas.
Some of the muscles worked with kettlebell swings include:
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
- Forearm grip muscles
- Erector spinae (lower back)
- Deltoids (shoulders)
- Trapezius (upper back)
One potential downside of kettlebell swings is that they are relatively challenging for your forearm grip muscles. Especially if you consider that most kettlebells don’t have knurling (grooves in the handles).
This can be good for growing and strengthening your forearm grip muscles but also makes it harder to get to the point where you can grow and strengthen the other muscles.
For this, a variety of kettlebell swing alternatives will be better choices.
That being said, muscle growth is not the only benefit you can get from engaging all these other muscles. You can still get better endurance in these other areas and keep the muscles healthier.
2. Kettlebell swings can prevent back pain
Aches and pains in different areas are somewhat common in modern life. While there are some inevitable ones, many can also be avoided by strengthening your body parts in advance.
For example, kettlebell swings can help you improve muscle endurance in your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
In turn, this tends to reduce the risk of getting pain in this area which is a relatively common area of issues (1).
One important thing to note is that you want to be careful with kettlebell swings if you already have issues in this area.
In that case, it might be smart to start with more controlled lower back exercises.
3. Kettlebell swings could help you burn belly fat
While targeting your fat loss is generally not possible, kettlebell swings can still help you lose weight and burn belly fat over time in combination with good habits in other lifestyle areas.
The first reason for this is that kettlebell swings can help you use up more energy during the workout.
Exactly how many calories kettlebell swings burn can vary but a rough estimation is that the average person burns around 96 to 166 calories per 10 minutes of doing the exercise.
This number is derived from studies where the male participants used a 16 kg (35-pound) kettlebell and female participants used an 8 kg (18-pound) kettlebell.
Secondly, while it is not the number one exercise in this area, kettlebell swings can still help you build some muscle mass.
Because weight influences how many calories you burn a lot, this extra muscle mass offers a lot of results in the long term.
These two benefits make it easier to get to a point where you use up more energy than is coming in. In turn, you start using energy stores like body fat and over time, belly fat.
4. Kettlebell swings can improve cardiovascular health
An interesting detail of kettlebell swings is that you can do them in different ways to focus on different aspects of your health.
If you use a light kettlebell, you can really pick up the pace of the swings without fatiguing your grip muscles.
This helps you challenge your cardiovascular system which includes your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
By challenging this system enough (but not too much), kettlebell swings can help you strengthen it.
Additionally, this also means kettlebell swings could make daily activities like climbing the stairs easier.
5. Kettlebell swings can improve balance and coordination
There are definitely workouts that are harder in these areas too but it is fair to say that kettlebell swings challenge your balance and coordination to at least some extent.
Similar to many other areas of your body, challenging your balance and coordination in safe amounts can make you more skilled in these areas.
This benefit of kettlebell swings does not only have a positive impact on other areas of your life. It can also reduce your risk of falling in daily activities like walking around and climbing the stairs.