By Nick Nilsson
Author of Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss
One of THE very best exercises you can do for fat loss is the Kettlebell Swing.
It's a very simple movement that involves much of the muscle mass of the entire body in it, which is what makes it so incredibly effective.
It's going to develop not only your cardio capacity but also help with strength and muscle-mass retention as well. You can use with light weights for high reps, all the way up to heavy weight for lower reps. It's really a very versatile exercise.
In fact, adding a few sets of these at the end of every single workout you do can really crank up your metabolism, all while keeping you off the hamster wheel/treadmill.
For this, you'll obviously need a kettlebell (though a dumbbell will work in a pinch, if you don't have a kettlebell to use).
If you're interested in getting a few kettlebells, I recommend Dick's Sporting Goods or any other local sporting goods store. If you order online, shipping charges will generally kill you, even if the prices are lower - it'll affect the price more for the heavier weights.
You can also use an adjustable-weight kettlebell (I'm using it in the video), called a KettleStack. I also recommend the KettleClamp for attaching a handle onto a dumbbell and using it like a kettlebell.
Back to the exercise...
The idea with this one is to use the big muscles of your hips and back to swing the weight up, NOT your arms and shoulders. The arm is just there to connect the weight to the body. The drive should come from the hip area.
And that drive should be in the form of a forward "snap" of the hips. The analogy I like to use is trying to ring a doorbell with your hip bone. You start with your hips back them thrust your hips forward, swinging the weight using the momentum generated at the hips.
So hold your kettlebell in one hand (I'll just demonstrate the one-arm version here...you can do a two-arm version as well, just holding the handle with both hands) then swing it back between your legs. Your knees should be slightly bent and stay slightly bent throughout the movement. Keep your core tight and a slight arch in your lower back. You can hold your other arm behind your back like I do or hold it loose beside you.
Now snap the hips forward, transferring the momentum to the kettlebell - you can think it like cracking the whip. The combined force of all these moving parts culminates in the weight being swung upwards at the end of your arm.
Swing it up to shoulder level or face level, then swing it back down between your legs and repeat.
Do 8 to 10 reps on one side then switch hands (or more or less, depending on the rep range you're shooting for).
Another key thing to remember with this exercise is stick your butt out behind you. Don't be shy! That hip flexion is important for generating the "backswing" power of the swing.
Think of it like a baseball pitcher. How fast do you think he'd be able to throw if he couldn't bring his arm behind his body and just threw forward from the shoulder. Not very fast.
Same deal with the kettlebell swing...you have to think of the backswing as your wind-up for the pitch. Sticking your butt out is not "sticking your butt out" just for the sake of sticking your butt out...it's the backswing for the kettlebell swing...it's what generates power on the athletic field, too.
Honestly, it's one of the KEY factors that can determine your success in sports...learning how to use powerful hip flexion and extension to generate force. If you've ever watched a good running back in football, they don't stand upright and try and run...they hunker down and get low to develop maximum power. That's using the big powerful muscles of the hip and using them to drive forward.
The kettlebell swing can help teach that, making it not only a great fat-loss exercise, but power builder as well (when you start using heavier weights with it).
If you really want to crank up your metabolism, just keep going back and forth on arms for a set time period, e.g. 2 minutes on, 30 seconds rest, repeat, using this as interval training instead of the treadmill or stair machine.
Done with a moderate weight, it's not going to fatigue any one single bodypart...it'll just work everything and really develop your cardio capacity while burning a tremendous amount of calories.
This is an exercise that can easily be incorporated into my own Metabolic Surge program very effectively, using it as interval training or during Fat Loss Circuit Training.
Give it a try next time you're in the gym and you'll see what I mean.
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