The #1 Kettlebell Exercise For Posterior Chain Power

Aug 15, 2022 | Exercise guides, Strength & Conditioning

Strong, muscular man performing the kettlebell swing
Whether you’re looking to build explosive power or you need to work on correcting your posture, the kettlebell swing is for everyone. This ultimate posterior chain exercise can fit into almost any training program and is sure to strengthen your core, glutes, hamstrings, and back in one fluid motion.

John Fasulo is a strength & performance coach with 10 years of experience and a ton of certifications under his belt. He’s a USMC veteran with a training background in sports performance, speed development, olympic weightlifting, endurance events, and physique competitions. He’s here to tell you all about the kettlebell swing and why you want to keep it on regular rotation in your fitness toolbox.

John Fasulo
John Fasulo

Why Add Kettlebell Swings to Your Strength Training Program?

Kettlebells are an amazing tool to pack in your strength and conditioning arsenal. There are so many ways kettlebells can be used in a training regimen, but if I had to pick one exercise I think everyone should do, I would hands-down choose the kettlebell swing.

Kettlebell swings are a phenomenal exercise that target the entire posterior chain.

They can be used for power development or as an accessory exercise for conditioning. They also work a myriad of strength qualities simultaneously: grip, dynamic hip hinging, thoracic spine posture, and shoulder packing of the lats. The kettlebell swing can also help correct anterior pelvic tilt issues by patterning pelvic stability with hip extension.

Kettlebell swings largely target the power-producing muscles of the posterior chain. Your glutes, hamstrings, lats, core, and spinal stabilizers are all actively working with this ultimate bang-for-your-buck exercise.

When performed with heavy weight, the pattern of horizontal hip displacement translates perfectly to the skill of explosive acceleration for speed athletes — think Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and sprinting. Hip power is essential for so many athletic movements and heavy kettlebell swings will help develop that power output.

On the conditioning end of the spectrum (lighter weight and higher volume), kettlebell swings will work your posterior chain without over-taxing those muscles and taking time away from your running/conditioning work. They’re usually just enough to get your lungs fired up in a conditioning workout.

Fit woman works out with heavy kettlebell in modern gym. Functional muscle training with the kettlebell swing.

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How to Do a Kettlebell Swing

When performing the kettlebell swing, you’ll need to keep a couple key cues in mind if you want to make the most of the movement. Your form can make the movement feel smooth and efficient or awkward and clunky. The good thing is, it’s an easy movement pattern to learn with enough practice.

Start with a slightly wider than hip-width stance. Place the kettlebell on the floor in front of you at about an arm’s length away, just outside of your immediate reach. Hinge downward, maintaining a strict neutral spine, and reach for the kettlebell handle with both hands.

Grab the kettlebell handle in an overhand grip and forcefully throw it through your legs, dipping forward like you’re bowing to royalty in front of you. Be sure you’re not arching your back or letting the weight pull you forward — maintain a neutral spine.

At the peak of your backswing, rapidly pull the kettlebell through your hips and launch it away from you so it starts moving upward. Stand up straight along with the kettlebell’s swing in front of you. A “Russian style” swing stops with your arms straight out in front, while an “American swing” ends with the bell directly over your head, biceps by your ears. Most novice athletes start with the Russian swing.

Take the most direct route up with your hips and be sure not to over extend into your low back. Keep your lats tucked tight and pull the kettlebell back into you with each rep

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KB Swings With Bands

Once you feel confident with the movement, kettlebell swings can be progressed pretty fast by increasing the weight. Small jumps in weight can quickly accumulate a ton of volume in a short amount of time.

You can also add bands to emphasize eccentric overload and bump up the tension for the concentric portion of the lift as well.

Don’t forget! Kettlebell swings can be corrective in nature as well as a great addition to a program for anyone dealing with chronic anterior pelvic tilt issues or a rounded thoracic spine. The kettlebell swing can appropriately find its way into virtually any program at any difficulty level – it is truly one of the ultimate exercises!

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