Top Kettlebell Swings Benefits: Muscles Worked, Calories Burned, and More

kettlebell swings benefits

Kettlebell swings benefits your cardiovascular and strength. They burn a ton of calories and are a full body muscle building exercise. Learn all of the kettlebell swings benefits plus other exercises you can do with a kettlebell.

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It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone when it comes to your workouts. We tend to use the same types of equipment for the same workouts we have been using for years. 

If you are like me, you are always looking for a new way to move your body. From strength training to powerlifting to running half marathons and more, I always find ways to change up my workout routine. My latest workout obsession? Kettlebells. 

Kettlebells might be one of the most overlooked exercise tools out there. While everyone knows about barbells and dumbbells, many do not know the benefits kettlebells offer. 

Kettlebell Workout Benefits 

When it comes to kettlebells, there are a ton of benefits. Kettlebells are designed to help improve and strengthen your posterior chain. They help burn calories, lose fat, and build muscle in your core, glutes, hamstrings, and more! According to an ACE study, “kettlebell training was also shown to markedly increase aerobic capacity, improve dynamic balance and dramatically increase core strength.”

1. Muscle Building

Kettlebells can build muscle in most areas of your body, depending on how you use them. If you use them to deadlift, they will develop your hamstrings, glutes, and back. If you use them to push press, you will build your shoulders, traps, and biceps. If you use them for swings, you will build your core, glutes, and hamstrings. Simply put, you will build lean muscle all around depending on what you use the kettlebell for. 

2. Calorie Burn

As a long-time tool of strongmen and cross-fitters, it is no doubt that these little tools burn a ton of calories and help you achieve a lean look over time. But many people question the effectiveness of the kettlebell. According to an ACE study, participants burned at least “20.2 calories per minute, which is off the charts. That’s equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace.” 

3. Versatility

With gyms being closed worldwide for the last year and a half, home gyms have become more critical than ever before. If you live in an apartment like me, you spent months trying to figure out if a squat/bench combo would fit in your living room. Arguably the best thing about kettlebells is that almost everything you can do with barbells and dumbbells, you can do with kettlebells. There are so many exercises you can do with kettlebells. The cannon-ball-shaped tool is compact, reasonably inexpensive, and can be used for just about any exercise you can think up. 

4. Stability/Core Engagement

Because kettlebells are so dynamic in their functions, they allow the trunk (aka your core) to stabilize. The trunk muscles include your pecs, obliques, and abs. Due to the kettlebell’s design, they are more resistant and are more challenging to move than dumbbells. Given that they are harder to move, you need to engage your core while using kettlebells to do the movements safely. By engaging your core, you are strengthening it. 

5. Builds Power and Strength

Studies show that kettlebell swings benefits power and strength. In fact, training with kettlebells improves both aerobic capacity/power and maximal and explosive strength. This is especially true when used for circuit-based training with a variety of full-body exercises. In fact, in only 6 weeks, one study found that both maximum and explosive power improved significantly through using kettlebells in place of standard training.

6. Reduces Pain and Injury

A study on kettlebell training sought to find out if training with kettlebells could help people in jobs with high reports of musculoskeletal pain and injuries. The researchers found that kettlebell training benefits workers by reducing pain in the neck, shoulders, and low back while building muscle in the back to prevent further injury and pain.

7. Excellent Cardio Workout

Kettlebell training benefits your cardiovascular system by getting your heart rate up in no time and keeping it elevated throughout training. Compared to regular resistance circuit training, research findings show that the kettlebell swing workout tends to be perceptually harder, increasing feelings of heat stress, muscle pain, and has a higher sustained heart rate during exercise compared to the circuit workout. 

8. Improves Mental Health

While all exercise has a powerful effect on mental wellness, research has shown that kettlebell training can significantly reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms. The research reports a 22% decrease in these symptoms from kettlebell training and improved quality of life even after the training stopped.

Read next: Core Strength Exercises That Actually Work

kettlebell swings benefits

What Do Kettlebells Do For Your Body

Kettlebells improve balance, flexibility, coordination, core, and overall strength and aid in fat loss. Kettlebells are a perfect combination of cardio and strength training. This allows them to be used to not only build muscle but lose fat as well. 

What Kind of Body Do Kettlebells Give You

Because kettlebells are a combination of cardio and strength training, you will get leaner while building muscles. Depending on what type of exercises you use kettlebells for, you can achieve a firmer-looking upper body, as well as more lean glutes, hamstrings, and core.

Read next: 15 Kettlebell Chest Workouts You Need for Big Strong Pecs

Kettlebell Swings Benefits 

If you are looking for an exercise that builds muscle, burns calories, aids in fat loss, and helps with your stability, look no further. Kettlebell swings are one of the few exercises that not only help to build strength but help with stability, mobility, and grip strength as well. 

Kettlebell Swings Muscles Used

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Core
  • Hips
  • Shoulders
  • Lats
  • Quads

Kettlebell Swings Calories

Adding kettlebell swings to a workout circuit with other kettlebell exercises can undoubtedly help you burn more calories. When combined with other kettlebell exercises, such as kettlebell deadlifts and Turkish half get-ups, participants burned around 20 calories every minute. 

Kettlebell Swings for Fat Loss

If you want to lose excess fat, the simple answer is a calorie deficit. Cardio and strength training alike are great tools to aid in your fat loss journey. According to a study done by Truman State University, the benefits of kettlebell swings in terms of fat loss are comparable to that of running on a treadmill. Using kettlebells can help you lose excess fat at a similar rate to a treadmill but gives you something the treadmill does not— a more significant amount of muscle mass. 

Read next: Kettlebell Squats and Swings HIIT Workout

Kettlebell Swings Benefits for Abs

Kettlebell swings have major benefits when it comes to stability and core strength. Because the movement is multifunctional, the swinging motion recruits your trunk muscles when done correctly. Many muscles have to work together to create momentum to move the kettlebell front the starting position. The kettlebell swing and the variations specifically designed to strengthen your core, like kettlebell windmills and planks with kettlebell pull-through, can be essential tools to strengthen your abs.

Heavy Kettlebell Swings Benefits

It’s no surprise that there are mixed reviews when it comes to kettlebell swings. Most coaches either love them or hate them. With items such as kettlebells, most people shy away from going heavier out of fear they will injure themselves. 

However, the most basic way to build muscle is by progressive overload. In layman’s terms: you must continue to increase the demand on your musculoskeletal system to grow muscle and strength. 

When it comes to doing kettlebell swings, increasing the weight slowly and over time (with the correct form) is the only way to keep building muscle. Make sure your form is tight, you are lifting a weight you can manage, don’t be afraid to lift heavy!

Doing Kettlebell Swings Every Day

Although it is not advised to lift heavy weights every day as our body needs time to recover, using kettlebells to burn calories can be beneficial. Kettlebell swings can help strengthen your core and burn fat. When used as a tool at the end of your workouts or an accessory to bigger lifts, they can be a great accessory. 

Other Kettlebell Exercises: Benefits

Kettlebell Snatch Benefits

The kettlebell snatch is a full-body movement that develops the posterior chain and upper body. It also builds power, strength and helps with coordination. Building muscle, strength, and stability in your core, glutes, and hamstrings can help increase strength on other lifts such as squats and deadlifts.

Kettlebell Snatch Muscles Worked: 

  • Quads
  • Hips
  • Glutes
  • Core
  • Hamstrings

Kettlebell Clean Benefits

Like barbell cleans, kettlebell cleans have a ton of benefits. Cleans can give you increased explosiveness, better grip strength, and overall shoulder, core, and posterior chain strength. Author and strength training coach Mark Rippetoe says, “it is a scalable way to keep power production current with increasing strength.”

Kettlebell Clean Muscles Worked

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Shoulders
  • Upper back
  • Core

Kettlebell Windmill Benefits

The kettlebell windmill is an advanced movement that can be used to increase muscle in your whole body but emphasizes your obliques, glutes, and shoulders. Increasing strength, especially in your core, can translate to other lifts, such as your deadlift, where core strength is vital. Building overall strength, stability, and coordination can help everyday tasks such as picking things up and ducking down easier. 

Kettlebell Windmill Muscles Worked

  • Obliques
  • Glutes
  • Upper Body

Kettlebell Deadlift Benefits

Deadlifts are one of the most essential lifts you can do for your body. Deadlifts use more muscles simultaneously than any other lift. Like barbell deadlifts, kettlebell deadlifts are a compound exercise. Therefore you are getting the most bang for your buck when doing deadlifts. You will build strength in various muscle groups that will translate into other lifts such as squats, bench presses, and rows. 

Kettlebell Deadlift Muscles Worked

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Traps
  • Lats
  • Lower Back
  • Upper Back
  • Glutes
  • Core
  • Forearms

Kettlebell Training Tips


Make sure you are using the correct form. Like any form of exercise, if you do it wrong, you can get hurt. When using the kettlebell, especially for swings, make sure you are tightening your core and using a weight that is not too heavy.

Choosing a Kettlebell Weight

When trying to find what kettlebell weight to use, there are a few factors you need to look at. First, what exercise are you doing? If you are doing a kettlebell deadlift, you will need to use a heavier weight than you may with a kettlebell swing or windmill. 

Second, are you a beginner at training? If yes, you should start VERY light. You can always increase the weight, but using a kettlebell that is too heavy and getting injured can halt your progress. A female using a kettlebell for a first-time arm workout should start with a weight close to 15 lbs for their first training session. For a leg workout, using a 25 lb kettlebell would be a good place to start. 

How Often Should Kettlebells Be Used

Training every day is not ideal for recovery. Although some people may recover faster than others, rest and active rest days are advised. Using kettlebells as a tool to build other compound lifts such as squats and deadlifts can be super helpful, but doing them every day may hurt your progress. Adding kettlebell lifts as an accessory to your compound lifts 4-5 days a week can be beneficial if done correctly. 

Overall, kettlebells can be a great way to exercise, particularly if you work out at home. Their size, cost, and versatility make them a great additive to home gyms and workout routines alike.

Kettlebell Workout Circuit

Set your timer for this one! 40 seconds on and 30 seconds off. Try 1 to 2 rounds performing all exercises in order before starting back at the top. This should take 15 to 30 minutes.

You can download a copy of this workout with all instructions provided in my Free Resource Library.

Madison Freeman
Madison Freeman

I am a journalist and freelance writer working towards my personal training certification with a keen eye for good stories. I think strength training is the best form of therapy and I never turn down a good piece of cake.

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