Kettlebell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength

A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research says that kettlebell swing training will improve your maximal & explosive strength.

And how cool is that???

The Study

The aim of this study was to compare how kettlebell swing (KB) training had on measures of maximum strength (half squat – HS) and explosive strength (vertical jump height—VJH) in comparison to jump squat (JS) power training. 

Note – JS training is already known to improve max strength and VJH.

To test this, the researchers took 21 healthy men, tested their HS & VJH and then exposed them to a 6 week program of either:

  • Kettle Bell training, or
  • Jump Squat training

The KB group performed 12-minute bouts of KB exercise (12 rounds of 30-second exercise, 30-second rest with 12 kg if 70 kg).

The JS group performed at least 4 sets of 3 JS with the load that maximized peak power.

Training volume was altered to accommodate different training loads and ranged from 4 sets of 3 with the heaviest load (60% 1RM) to 8 sets of 6 with the lightest load (0% 1RM)[/box]

After 6 weeks…

  • The Kettlebell group improved their 1-RM squat by 12% and their Vertical Jump by 15%
  • The Jump Squat group improved their 1-RM squat by 8% and their Vertical Jump by 24%

What does this mean?

  • If you play basketball, Jump Squats are better than Kettlebell Swings
  • If you’re going to the Olympics for long jump, Kettlebell Swings are the exercise for you.

What does this mean to you???

Since the heaviest weight used in this study was only 60% of 1RM, I am surprised that it had such an effect on Maximum Strength. With that being said, my personal experience jives with the research – both exercises are very efficient at producing strength AND power. I would also add that both exercises reproduce movements (hip extension, vertical jump, horizontal jump) that are very useful in real life and in many sporting situations.

I would like to see future studies which:

  • Test with heavier weights
  • Test how different speeds of movement affect power – esp. explosive performance with lighter weights
  • Test Maximum Strength in a horizontal plane – not just vertical jumping

Any thoughts???

Reference

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6 thoughts on “Kettlebell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength

  1. I have this little puny 28 pound kettlebell I bought to experiment with. I like the movement of several routines and often warm up this way. But, I can’t seem to find the right grip position that can avoid the “bell” from banging against my forearm. After several reps, it becomes very sore. Once I figure this out, intend to buy some heaver bells, work it, and see what happens.

    Yep.

    -Joe

  2. I tip my hat that a busy guy like you took the time to source Steve Cotter’s technique. Will require some practice, but now I have a method. Thanks!

  3. My pleasure – There’s so much BAD info out there, I kinda feel responsible to help promote people who know their stuff

  4. Did these individuals have previous training? A gain in just 6 weeks for someone already doing squats, deadlifts, etc is impressive. For someone who is just “healthy” (whatever that means) is expected/not impressive.

    Have you seen gains yourself from KBs?

  5. I am a masters high jumper and have been using the KB with bands to increase the eccentric movements. I don’t have a baseline to measure from because I didn’t check my vertical prior to starting, but I can tell you that with the band and doing as many as possible in 10 minutes, you get one hell of a workout!

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