top of page

Ask Dave: What does the kettlebell swing between the legs do?

Here’s an “Ask Dave” that made me laugh.

I got chatting with one of my Facebook friends, a guy who follows a lot of my work and like me has an interest on physical fitness and martial arts.

He’s not very familiar with Kettlebells being more of a barbell guy. Which is cool.

He’d been down his gym to train and has noticed more and more people using kettles. Again, this is cool.


He’s seen a few things he didn’t like.

Anyone who knows training should be able to recognise good or bad form. Identify potentially injurious movement and spot poorly thought out exercises.

So he dropped me a line, knowing I’m kinda fond of my kettles.

He started with: “Why do people train with kettlebells” which is a monster question. But followed with “What does that kettlebell swing between the legs do?”

And that’s what I want to talk about here.

The Kettlebell Swing is a hip hinge movement. As is the Deadlift.

One of these is a safe hip hinge to load......

One of these is a safe hip hinge to load……

The shapes made by the body in both lifts are almost identical. And many make a direct comparison between the two exercises. Which is fair.

The big difference, and indeed what makes them complimentary to each other is this:

Deadlift: Concentric emphasis Swing: Eccentric emphasis

The deadlift is lauded as the king of strength lifts. It’s uncompromising, either the bar comes off the floor and the hips lock out, or it doesn’t. There’s no lowering portion. The bar is dead on the floor, no lowering portion to stretch load the muscles. You have to create all the force yourself.


The Swing is just as uncompromising, if done well. And that’s a big IF in most gyms.

The main workload on the kettlebell swing takes place at the terminal point on the backswing. As that bell swings back through the legs it picks up speed, especially if you are using a “hard style” hike, or have a partner to push it. Your posterior chain (hammies, glutes, back) have to work pretty hard to slow the bell down, halt it and then power it forwards into the next rep.


And it’s here that the value lies.

The lengthening of the posterior chain / back line under load into an explosive contraction.

It’s almost plyometric.


Its certainly as close as many need to get to plyometric training.

Done well, kettlebell swings can be done in a variety of rep ranges, from low rep with heavy bells to very high reps with moderate bells. But thanks to the momentum and speed of the back swing, the weight of the bell at that terminal point where the posterior chain is fully loaded is multiple times that of when it is at rest.

Which explains how people who train with kettlebells in a safe and progressive manner develop unusual strength even though they may only ever be using light implements. And lets face it, 24kg’s isn’t really that heavy.

But a 24kg bell will smoke most people. And anyone who can swing or even snatch a 24 for reps will probably have a respectable deadlift.

I hope that answers your question Rob.

Now get yourself a free copy of the Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing pdf eBook and grab yourself a kettlebell!

Get Your Copy of The Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing, simply enter your email address to download:

The Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing

Email Address:

Leave this field empty if you're human:

And don’t forget I’ll be hosting the world renowned kettlebell expert Steve Cotter next week. If you’re lucky there’s tickets remaining, have a look here: 

Eventbrite - Steve Cotter Dublin Workshop


Dave Hedges

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page