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18,Aug reviewed by Michael Williams
As a certified kettlebell instructor, I get asked frequently about which muscles kettlebell swings target. This functional exercise works several muscle groups at once, providing an efficient total body workout. Here are the main muscles activated during proper kettlebell swings:
The gluteus maximus is the primary mover, generating the powerful hip drive that propels the kettlebell swing. The glutes contract to thrust the hips forward.
The hamstrings coordinate with the glutes to control the hip hinge motion and extend the hips. They stabilize and prevent hyperextension.
Muscles including the lower back, adductors and calves act as stabilizers during the hip hinge to support a neutral spine alignment.
Shoulders and Traps
These keep the scapula retracted and down to avoid rounding the upper back during swings. The shoulders control the swing of the kettlebell.
The entire core braces to create rigid torso stabilization during swings. A tight core prevents compensation patterns.
Grip and Forearms
A strong grip is required to hold the kettlebell properly without letting it rotate or shift in the hands during swings.
The quads eccentrically control the descent of the kettlebell during the downswing phase.
Kettlebell swings are a fantastic total body exercise because they force so many muscle groups to work synergistically together. Maintaining proper form is crucial to fully activate the right muscles for maximum benefits in functional strength, power and mobility.