Kettlebell swings are a popular exercise that definitely requires some effort. In turn, this increases the number of calories you burn.
One of the benefits of kettlebell swings is that they can help you burn more calories. The exact numbers will vary but there are some ways to make educated estimations.
The average person can expect to burn around 289 – 498+ calories per 30 minutes of continuous kettlebell swings.
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.
The studies on the number of calories burned with kettlebell swings are not perfect (yet) and it isn’t entirely clear how much changing the weight will influence this number. However, the numbers above offer a decent first estimation.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account, how many calories certain numbers of swings burn, how kettlebell swings compare to running in terms of calories burned, and more.
Estimations kettlebell swings calories burned
Even if it is not your main goal, doing kettlebell swings will make you burn more calories than less intense activities. To calculate calories burned during certain exercises like kettlebells more specifically you can use a formula with MET values.
A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is. This number represents how many times more intense the activity is compared to sitting still.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
One challenge with estimating the MET value for an activity like kettlebell swings is that the weight of the kettlebell in comparison with your current strength will influence things a lot.
There is one estimation of a MET of 9.8 for continuous kettlebell swings (1). This estimation comes from 2 studies where things like oxygen consumption and heart rates of a small number of participants were measured when doing kettlebell swings (2, 3).
In the studies, the men used a 16 kg (35-pound) kettlebell and the women used an 8 kg (18-pound) kettlebell. So if you use a heavier kettlebell your MET will likely be higher, a lighter kettlebell will likely involve a lower MET.
These studies are not perfect since this weight was the same for all participants no matter how strong they were etc. That being said, this MET estimation is definitely also not a random guess.
You can look at the number of calories burned with kettlebell swings from different perspectives. The first table will show the calories burned with the MET estimation of kettlebell swings for different weights and time intervals.
After that, you can find charts comparing the number of calories burned for different amounts of kettlebell swing repetitions, kettlebell swings vs running, and how long you have to do kettlebell swings to burn certain numbers of calories.
Again keep in mind that these are estimations for specific kettlebell weights. This formula doesn’t take into account certain important factors that do influence the number of calories burned with kettlebell swings.
Additionally, to put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (4).
Calories burned with kettlebell swings
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned with kettlebell swings is by looking at how much time you spent doing it.
Again, these estimations are derived from studies where the men did kettlebell swings with a 16 kg (35-pound) kettlebell and women did kettlebell swings with an 8 kg (18-pound) kettlebell.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||10 calories||145 calories||289 calories||434 calories||579 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||12 calories||179 calories||359 calories||538 calories||718 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||14 calories||214 calories||428 calories||642 calories||857 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||17 calories||249 calories||498 calories||747 calories||996 calories|
How many calories burned per kettlebell swings
In one of the two studies used to estimate the MET value for kettlebell swings, the participants were told to do as many swings as possible in 12 minutes using a 16-kg kettlebell.
On average the participants did 265 (± 68) swings during the 12 minutes which comes down to 22 (± 6) swings per minute (3). The table below uses this speed of 22 repetitions per minute in combination with the described MET value.
|# Kettlebell Swings |
|1 Swing||20 Swings||100 Swings||300 Swings||500 Swings|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||0.4 calories||9 calories||44 calories||132 calories||219 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||0.5 calories||11 calories||54 calories||163 calories||272 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||0.6 calories||13 calories||65 calories||195 calories||324 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||0.8 calories||15 calories||75 calories||226 calories||377 calories|
Calories burned kettlebell swings vs running
Next, kettlebell swings are not the only option if you want to get in more movement. Running is another popular option. The numbers in the table below are for doing the exercise for 30 continuous minutes.
Running at 5 mph (8.1 kmh) burns around 50.9% more calories than doing kettlebell swings with an 8 kg (18-pound) kettlebell for females and a 16 kg (35-pound) kettlebell for males.
One of the two studies used to estimate the MET value for kettlebell swings asked participants to do kettlebell swings and run on the treadmill at the same rating of perceived exertion on different days (2).
This measure is very subjective but at these exercise intensities that felt equally hard, participants burned around 37% more calories while running.
(f: 8 kg, m: 16 kg)
(5 mph/8.1 kmh)
(7 mph/11.3 kmh)
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||157 calories||236 calories||340 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||194 calories||293 calories||421 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||232 calories||350 calories||503 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||269 calories||406 calories||584 calories|
How long to burn calorie counts with kettlebell swings
It is also possible that you have a specific goal in terms of how many calories you want to burn with kettlebell swings. Below you can find estimations for different calorie counts and different weights.
|Calorie Count |
|100 Calories||300 Calories||500 Calories||1000 Calories|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||10 minutes||31 minutes||52 minutes||104 minutes|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||8 minutes||25 minutes||42 minutes||84 minutes|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||7 minutes||21 minutes||35 minutes||70 minutes|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||6 minutes||18 minutes||30 minutes||60 minutes|
Biggest influences on calories burned
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like kettlebell swings is hard to predict and measure correctly.
This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game when you are trying to balance these numbers with the calories in food.
Even so, good estimations for the number of calories burned with kettlebell swings can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn with kettlebell swings include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to fuel its movements.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Weight kettlebell: Kettlebells are available in a wide range of different weights. The heavier ones will require more energy of your body to swing around.
Hidden calorie burning from kettlebell swings
There are many other aspects that make it even harder to put how many calories you burn with kettlebell swings into an exact number. This includes the fact that the calorie-burning effects of kettlebell swings are not limited to during the workout.
As mentioned, how much you weigh plays a relatively big role in how many calories you burn. This doesn’t just apply to your workout, this is also the case during everyday activities.
One of the benefits of kettlebells is that they make it easier to build muscle mass. This amount of muscle mass helps you burn more calories day in, day out.
It is however extremely hard to put this amount into a number since this muscle mass will be so different from person to person.
Especially resistance training beginners can see a nice amount of progress when they start doing kettlebell swings.
Next, doing an activity at high intensities can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.
Lastly, by moving more and building muscle you influence the levels of certain hormones that in turn can benefit your metabolism.
Estimations for calories burned from kettlebell swings usually don’t take these more long-term effects into account.
How to burn more calories with kettlebell swings
The number of calories burned with kettlebell swings is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per time interval.
The challenge for most people is fitting in activities in their busy schedules. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of kettlebell swings.
If you do have more time, spending more time kettlebell swings will generally burn more calories although at some point overtraining may cause the reverse.
The main way to burn more calories while doing kettlebell swings is by choosing the right weight and repetitions for your goals.
To burn calories in the short term you want to choose a weight where you can do kettlebell swings for an extended period of time. In this weight range, you want to choose the highest weight you can safely use.
Another option is focusing on long-term calorie burning by building muscle. For this, the weight of the kettlebell should be higher (but still safe) and you should be able to do fewer repetitions.
Additionally, you can simply do other exercises besides kettlebell swings to build extra muscle mass.
This extra muscle mass will increase your body weight in a healthy way and in turn, help you burn more calories.
Can you lose weight from kettlebell swings?
Kettlebell swings can definitely help you lose weight. One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000 calories). How long it takes to see weight loss results from kettlebell swings will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intensely to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
15 minutes of kettlebell swings a day could help you burn an extra 1790 calories in 10 days which is about 0.51 pounds of body fat. 30 days 5370 calories (= +- 1.53 pounds of body fat) and so on…
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be suboptimal. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
Muscles worked with kettlebell swings
Kettlebell swings mainly work muscles like your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, forearms, erector spinae, shoulders, obliques, abs, quadriceps, and calves.
Resistance training beginners and intermediates can grow and strengthen these muscles with kettlebell swings. Especially if they choose the right weights and number of repetitions.
For individuals more advanced when it comes to resistance training, kettlebell swings may not be enough to build a lot of muscle mass.
Both groups of people generally benefit from giving their bodies enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow their muscles after an intense kettlebell swing session.
Should you do kettlebell swings to burn calories?
As you can see, kettlebell swings are an exercise that can help you burn a relatively large amount of calories.
There are still a few workouts that can help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time but kettlebell swings can definitely be a good choice.
If calorie burning is your main goal and you regularly do kettlebell swings, implementing some other exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle can be helpful.
The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including during your kettlebell swing sessions.
Also keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what exercise routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.