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How to Do a Russian Kettlebell Swing

"My Legs Are Toast!" Is What You'll Say After Doing This Basic Kettlebell Move

If you want to strengthen your lower body and abs and get your heart rate up, grab a kettlebell for this basic CrossFit move. This looks like an upper-body exercise since you're swinging the kettlebell up and down, but it's all about the legs, butt, and core. Champlain Valley Level 1 CrossFit Coach Laura Matuszak says it's a hip drive, or hip thrust, that moves the kettlebell — not the arms.

This is a Russian kettlebell swing, which means the bell never goes above shoulder height, or eye level. This is a great variation for beginners and those with tight or injured shoulders. And since the kettlebell is moving up and down at a faster rate than it would if you were doing an American kettlebell swing (where the bell goes overhead), you'll feel your heart rate accelerate faster. Get ready to sweat and breathe heavy!

How to Do a Russian Kettlebell Swing

Equipment needed: Begin with a lighter-weight kettlebell and increase weight as you get stronger. A 26-pound kettlebell is being used in this video.

  • Stand with your feet wider than hips-width apart, toes pointing out slightly. Squat down, and pick up a kettlebell with both hands. Allow it to hang between your legs.
  • With a flat back and your core engaged, inhale to bend the knees and push your butt back. The weight should be back in the heels so your knees are in line with the toes.
  • Keep your abs strong and arms straight. On an exhale, press into your feet, squeezing your legs and glutes as you aggressively explode up, extending through your hips and legs to stand, which drives the kettlebell to shoulder height.
  • Inhale and with control come back to the starting position, allowing the kettlebell to swing back between your legs.
  • This counts as one rep.
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