The staple move of any kettlebell workout is the swing – it builds strength and cardiovascular endurance while working virtually every muscle group in the body. While swinging a kettlebell can be fun in and of itself, simply repeating sets of swings can get boring over time. Try one of these methods to spice up your swinging routine:
Vary Your Reps or Work Time
If you usually do five sets of 20 with a short rest between, try swinging for a set period of time instead of reps. Sixty seconds is a respectable goal to shoot for, and most people can do about 40 swings per minute with an equal amount of rest. If that length of time seems too ambitious, start at 30 or 45 seconds and work your way up over time.
You can also play with your rep scheme. There’s no rule stating each set has to look the same, so don’t be afraid to break out of the box. For instance, try something like two sets of 15 reps followed by one set of 10 reps or one set of 30 reps followed by one set of 10 reps, repeating any scheme as many times as necessary.
Change Up Your Rest Periods
With longer rest periods, your kettlebell training is more aerobic, and the easier your workout will seem overall. With extremely short rest periods, the training is more anaerobic. There are benefits to both types of training. Aerobic workouts are better suited to sustained, longer efforts to build endurance while anaerobic ones – like HIIT – build your ability to put forth hard, shorter efforts. In developing general fitness, a blend of both types of training is ideal.
Speed Up – or Down – Your Swing
Once you are proficient at swinging a kettlebell with good form, experiment with the speed of your swing, which can change muscle activation and cardiovascular benefit. In order to swing faster, increase your forward hip action to drive the bell up, stop the upward movement at chest level, and deliberately bring the kettlebell back down to the starting position. For example, try a moderate speed for your swing for one minute, rest for one minute, and then swing more quickly for a minute, rest and repeat as desired.
Use Swing Variations
Your basic two-handed swing brings plenty of benefits, but one-handed swings and alternating swings bring new dimensions to the move. These variations require greater body rotation, which works the core musculature, and it also loads the shoulder stabilizers. So, if you were to do a 200-swing workout, you could try the following format or something similar:
Two-handed x 20 reps
One-handed x 40 reps, changing hands every 20
Two-handed x 20
Alternating x 20
Two-handed x 10
Alternating x 10
One-handed x 40, changing hands every 10
Two-handed x 20
Alternating x 20
Gradually Increase Your Load
While you don’t want to make huge jumps in the weight of the kettlebell you use at a time, changing your load will make your kettlebell swings more challenging. In the absence of another kettlebell, use one-handed swings – which double your load – to increase your strength. You might begin using a format that looks like 20 two-handed swings followed by 2 one-handed swings with as many repetitions as needed. Then, in your next workout, you might increase the one-handed swings to 3 at a time.