BUILD STRONG HIPS | 6 Kettlebell Swings

November 25, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

Six different kettlebell swing variations to build strong and powerful hips! Kettlebell swing is one of the best explosive hip exercises there is.

Kettlebell swings are as old school as it gets: they have been utilized for centuries by Chinese (In China they call them "stone locks") and by Russians where the "girya" originates from.

The uneven weight distribution of the kettlebell makes the kettlebell a great tool for fluid power training.

Speed and power are not just about producing huge amounts of dead-stop force. A great deal of power comes from acceleration and this is where the kettlebell is amazing.

In this video and article we'll go through 6 great kettlebell swing variations to develop power and strength to your hips.

Kettlebell swing is a hip hinge movement which means that you are generating force by extending the hips. Mastering the deadlift will help.

Although kettlebell is the best tool for the swing, it's also possible to use a dumbbell. Here's how:

  • Use an adjustable dumbbell: place 5-10% more weight to one side and take a neutral grip of the bar (heavier side below). The uneven distribution of the weight allows the dumbbell to swing better and it's more comfortable for your wrists.
  • Use a fixed-weight dumbbell: take a pronated grip because the neutral grip can strain your wrist.

Regardless of the item you use, the most important cue of the kettlebell swing is to learn how to extend from the hips and learn how to accelerate and go with the flow.

You should also keep the scapula (shoulder girdle) stable and keep the core tight. This will promote better hip mechanics and allow you to focus solely on the hip hinge movement.

The Best Kettlebell Swing Variations

  • Traditional kettlebell swing: in the traditional kettlebell swing the kettlebell travels between your legs. Both 2-hand grip and 1-hand grips work very well although gripping with one arm can be more challenging for your grip.
  • Bottoms up clean: the clean is very similar to the swing. In this variation you just bring the kettlebell to your chest and point it upwards. This requires a great deal of stability from your wrist and arm. 
  • Overhead squat swing: in this variation you take a parallel squat with every repetition and raise the kettlebell overhead. This variation is more vertical and works more the quads while also developing shoulder mobility.
  • Double swing: in the double swing you are holding onto two kettlebells (or dumbbells) and they are placed on your sides. This variation mainly promotes a better thoracic posture which is only a good thing. You can also use a much narrower stance in this variation.
  • Lateral swing: this is the most special movement of all swing variations and will target very different muscles. In addition to the hips, you will be training more the core and shoulders. For other rotational swings, check this video out.

How much and how often? You can do these kettlebell swings as a part of your lower body workout. Typically 1-3 times per week will produce good results.

Use light weights! When it comes to explosive work, light weights simply work the best.

Moreover, if you use too much weight, your posture will be compromised and you won't be able to properly stabilize the scapula and core. This will lead to worse activation of the hip muscles and produce subpar results at best.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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  • The entire articles are obviously the result of serious research coupled with trial & error applications with the purpose of offering optimal advice.
    One should be grateful to Vahva Fitness for such genuine contribution.
    Applications of several workouts have radically improved my mobility,strength and appearance.
    Thank you.

    • Thank you as well Samir – happy to hear. We try to break down advanced concepts so everyone can understand them and apply them to their own training. What matters the most is the application of the training concepts.

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