Russian kettlebell swing 

Russian Kettlebell Swing: Working Upper Body, Core Muscle Groups and Overall Body Mass & Power!

If you’re tired of the classical barbell and dumbbell movements and are looking to bring diversity into your workouts, then picking a kettlebell is a way to go. 

For today, we will show you a swinging exercise called “The russian swing”. 

The russian kettlebell swing is a compound movement that just like the kettle bell deadlift workout, engages a number of muscle groups at a time. 

The successful execution of this exercise implies a proper muscle synchronization. 

Working muscle groups 

  • Starting from the bottom up, we have the quadriceps that give us the initial force required to lift the weight up to the shoulder line.
  • Then, we have the glutes which help us accelerate on the way up.
  • The spinal erectors grant a part of the power output needed for acceleration and are the halfway power-plant on the way up to the shoulder line. 
  • Finally, we have the front part of the shoulders working at the top end of the movement.
  • Furthermore, we have the calves, traps, serratus and upper chest working in a synergistic fashion 

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Russian Kettlebell Swing Exercise Execution 

Kettlebells Swing Crossfit Exercise

  • Place the kettlebell in front of you and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width 
  • Squat down and grab the kettlebell with an overhand grip, then extend up as if you would during a kettlebell deadlift and slightly swing the kettlebell up.
  • On the way down, squat and bend over slightly, allowing the kettlebell to pass between your legs, until it reaches your heel line.
  • On the way up, put in some more effort and swing the kettlebell all the way up, contracting the glutes and elevating the arms, all while keeping the back straight.
  • Increase the swing height (kettlebell elevation) gradually throughout the first couple of repetitions, until you reach the full range of motion 

Make sure to track the activation of each working muscle group.

First off, at the lower portion of the exercise, you will notice an activation of the quads, glutes and spinal erectors. 

Then, we observe a further activation of the glutes, erectors and the front portion of the shoulders.

The glutes cause a bigger power output and increases the inertia of the kettlebell, which in turn makes the erectors work more to keep the back straight.  

Finally, we observe an activation of the shoulders, traps and calves, which work together to increase the shoulder joint power output and stabilize the kettlebell. 

Due to the complexity of this exercise, we recommend you to start off with a lighter weight, until you get into the flow of the movement and develop strength. 

Once you’ve mastered properly distributing the inertial forces along the working muscles, you can move up to higher weights. 

Kettle Bell Workout Swing


The Russian kettlebell swing is a perfect exercise that has a main goal of bringing in functional development.  

That is namely an increased shoulder line strength, improved muscle coordination and balance. 

If you are looking to bring diversity into your workouts and do something more than just strong muscle contractions, including kettlebells in your workouts is a good option. 

As the exercise is complex, we recommend first learning the execution and establish a total muscle control, before moving on to heavier weights. 

That is of course a requirement in case you are looking to avoid injuries and remain biomechanically functional.

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