Updated: Aug 19
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500 kettlebell swings in one workout? Are you mad! Granted, 500 kettlebell swings in a single session sounds like a lot, but the row sets and bodyweight exercises help to break up the 500 reps into manageable chunks.
Taken together, the simple exercises that comprise this workout make for a complete training session. The 500 kettlebell swings will build whole-body strength while the row and calisthenics will burn fat thus improving muscular definition.
Related: Best Competition Kettlebell for swingers
But why 500 kettlebell swings?
The kettlebell swing is a complete exercise. When performing the swing the major muscle groups of the legs and back are engaged. Also, the core, shoulders, and muscles of the arm are activated to stabilise the body during the swing.
The muscle-developing attributes of the kettlebell swing have been long understood. A 1920s weightlifting champion, David Willoughby, said of the swing that it ‘brings into action and develops practically every group of muscles on the back of the body and legs, and a good many others besides.’
It’s because of the many strength-building benefits why Willoughby concluded his assessment of the swing by stating that ‘if you only have time on your schedule for only one back exercise, make it this one …’ (The Russian Kettlebell Challenge).
In addition, if you put some ‘umph!’ into each swing, sending the kettlebell high above your head, you will also bring the cardiovascular system into play. After a single set of just 50 kettlebell swings, your heart will be racing as it works to fuel the many muscles that are required to execute this exercise.
Benefits of 500 kettlebell swings
In our other article – Benefits of Kettlebell Training – we talk a length about the many ways that this foundational exercise can promote improved physicality. To avoid repeating ourselves, we have summed those benefits below in a concise list. However, if you would like a comprehensive overview of the benefits of the kettlebell swing, follow the link above.
Improved muscle definition
Dropping of waist sizes
Increased grip strength
Noticeable body compositional improvements
Augmentation of pre-existing lean muscle mass
Enhanced energy levels
Advancements of strength PBs
Body strength ‘shot through the roof’
Abs really did take on the appearance of slabs!
How to do this 500 kettlebell swings workout
This 500 kettlebell swings workout is set out in a repeating circuit. Comprised of three exercises, you are to try to complete each group of exercises before taking a rest. Of course, if you want to push yourself or if you have the fitness, progress through the circuits without resting.
You’ll notice that the row distances decrease by 250-metres with each successive circuit. This makes the workout harder because you’re afforded less time to rest between each set of 100 kettlebell swings. But remember, if you need to break the 100 KB swings down into smaller sets, say 50 or 25reps, then you should do so. There’s absolutely no shame in that.
The 25 press-ups serve a dual purpose in this workout. They engage the chest muscles, which is the one muscle that swinging and rowing don’t activate, and they help stretch off the forearms, which take a bit of battering from all that pulling and gripping.
Ensure to warm up well before attempting this workout. The suggested workout is as follows:
2000-metre row: after a 250-metres dismount the rower and perform 10 kettlebell swings.
500 kettlebell swings
Total distance rowed: 3500-metres
Total kettlebell swings: 500!
Total press-ups: 125
How to perform the perfect kettlebell swing
In his excellent book, The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, Pavel Tsatsouline tells us that ‘the swing is a great way to learn your way around the kettlebell’ and get prepared for more difficult exercises, such as the snatch, clean, and long cycle.
However, though the swing is regarded as a simple, foundational exercise, and one to ‘learn your way around the kettlebell’, few people perform it correctly. To help you avoid making those common mistakes, we have outlined the swing technique as well as including a list of dos and don’ts.
Stand directly over the kettlebell – not behind it! – adopting a one and half shoulder-width stance.
Squatting at the knees and keeping your back perfectly straight grasp the bell and stand up.
Keeping the back straight pull the kettlebell back between your legs and, using your glutes, propel the kettlebell forward until it’s level with your shoulders.
Ensuring to keep your core engaged throughout the movement, allow the kettlebell to return to the start position and repeat.
Kettlebell swing dos
Do keep control throughout the exercise.
Do relax during the movement – you shouldn’t be stiff and rigid.
Do make sure that your feet are evenly spaced and planted firmly; your weight should be on your heels.
Do fix your eyes on a point roughly head height.
Do ensure the your arms are slightly bent throughout.
Do keep your core tight whilst swinging.
Do squeeze your bum cheeks together at precisely the moment when the KB reaches the top position. An old kettlebell teacher of mine said try and imagine as though you’re trying to crack a walnut between your arse cheeks.
Kettlebell swing don’ts
Don’t bend or round your back – keep it straight or slightly concaved.
Don’t at any point lock the legs out.
Don’t over-rotate or ‘collapse’ at the hips during the downward phase. The kettlebell should not pull you down so that your torso becomes parallel with the floor. This is a common mistake that places a lot of stress on the lumbar region of the spine.
Don’t try and lift the kettlebell with your shoulders. Remember, you are propelling the bell forward with your glutes and transverse abdominus. The muscles of the arm merely guide and control the trajectory of the kettlebell. If you try and lift with the shoulders, like when performing a lateral raise, not only will your muscles quickly fatigue but the base of the kettlebell will face the floor and not forward.
If you want to take your swinging to the next level, try the 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge
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About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.