How to do a Russian Kettlebell Swing

Add full-body toning to your gym routine with this kettlebell exercise.

Eyeing those kettlebells at the gym, but not sure where to begin? Start with the Russian kettlebell swing. The key to this exercise is to swing the kettlebell to eye level.

Taylor Race, trainer and owner of Elevate St. Pete, uses kettlebell movements to complement his cross-training routines. “Swings are a fun thing you can mix in, in sets of 10-20 reps, between sets of other conditioning exercises,” says Race.

To incorporate the Russian swing to your repertoire, first choose an appropriate weight.

HOW HEAVY?

Kettlebells come in weights ranging from five pounds on up. Standing in front of the rack at the gym, eyeing up your options, you might wonder, “What size kettlebell should I start with?”

Race suggests choosing a weight that feels comfortable. “Start very light — 15 to 20 pounds at the most.”

While that may seem heavy, it’s important to “choose a weight that requires your legs to do the work as long as you can keep your back flat and shoulders from rounding forward,” Race says. “If any of the pieces of proper form break down, then opt for something lighter.”

You should feel like you have control of the kettlebell throughout the entirety of the swing. Once you feel comfortable and have built up strength, consider increasing the weight by five pounds.

PROPER FORM

  • Stand with your feet as wide as your hips, then put a slight bend in your knees
  • Maintain a flat back
  • Engage your core muscles
  • Follow the kettlebell with your gaze while maintaining a neutral neck
  • Extend your knees at the top of the swing

HOW TO

  • Using both hands, hold the kettlebell with an overhand grip
  • Start with the kettlebell hanging between your thighs. Your wrists should lightly touch your legs
  • Lean forward slightly. Using your hips, swing the kettlebell up to eye level
  • Release, then swing up again

BONUS PRO TIP: “Move as one unit through your hips and back,” Race says. Swing the kettlebell like you are “hiking a football.”

Now that you’ve mastered the Russian swing, try the single-arm kettlebell swing, which is very similar to this movement, and then move on to the American swing, which is the most challenging of the three exercises.