Kettlebell swings are a low-impact exercise that leverages the hip hinge to develop strength and power in the posterior chain muscles – these muscles include the hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles.
In this article we cover some of the results athletes have seen and help you tailor your training routine for maximum effectiveness.
How long does it take to see results from kettlebell swings?
The time it takes to see results from kettlebell swings can vary based on several factors, including the frequency/intensity/sets/reps of your workout, as well as your recovery and training history.
Generally, you will likely start to see results from kettlebell swings after 8 to 12 weeks, with beginners experiencing early strength gains around the 8-week mark and more advanced individuals seeing progress by the 12th week. These early improvements in strength are often caused by neuromuscular adaptations (i.e. your body becomes more efficient) and followed later by an increase in muscle size.
It’s important to recognize that muscle definition, which is closely tied to body composition is important to discuss here. You can become stronger without immediate changes in your body composition, therefore even if you don’t “see” the results, improvements in strength are likely occurring beneath the surface.
Do kettlebell swings build legs?
Yes, kettlebell swings will build muscles in the legs, specifically the glutes and hamstrings to some extent. However, the fast and dynamic nature of the kettlebell swing dosn’t lend itself to being the most effective way to building muscle in the legs.
Instead, exercises like romanian deadlifts, traditional deadlifts and squats are better suited to building the legs given their slow and controlled eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) nature. It is this control that creates a longer time under tension for the muscles, fostering optimal conditions for muscle growth and strength.
Do kettlebell swings build arms?
Kettlebell swings are not primarily designed to build arm muscles. The exercise mainly targets the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. The arms act as levers during the swing but are not the primary focus of the exercise. For building arm muscles, other exercises that specifically target the biceps, triceps, and shoulders would be more effective.
What does kettlebell swing tone?
Kettlebell swings can tone the muscles of the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. They also engage your core, lats and rhomboids but to a lesser extent.
While kettlebell swings are effective for the posterior chain, they do not engage most upper body muscles or those on the anterior side of the body, such as the quads. For a well-rounded programme to tone your full body, it’s worth incorporating other exercises such as squats, press ups and pull ups into your programme.
It’s important to recognize that muscle definition (also referred to as muscle tone), which is closely tied to body composition is important to discuss here. You can become stronger without immediate changes in your body composition, therefore even if you don’t “see” the results, improvements in strength are likely occurring beneath the surface.
Incorporating kettlebell swings into your workout routine can lead to various benefits, including strength and power in the posterior chain muscles, with improvements typically observed over an 8-12 week period.
The key to achieving the best results is consistency, patience and attention to maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.
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Will is a sport scientist and golf professional who specialises in motor control and motor learning. Will lecturers part-time in motor control and biomechanics, runs Golf Insider UK and consults elite athletes who are interested in optimising their training and performance.