The Kettlebell Swing You’ve Never Seen Before

Sideways Kettlebell Swing
 Photograph by James Michelfelder

A standard kettlebell swing is a great way to strengthen your posterior chain—that is, your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back—while improving the mobility of your hips.

When it comes to your upper body, however, you’re better off giving this side-to-side swing a try. For starters, this move improves your spine mobility, which deteriorates with age. And it carries over to everyday activities like golfing, shoveling snow, and chopping wood, all of which demand upper body rotation. The side-to-side swing reinforces this movement pattern and helps to keep you efficient at it.

As a bonus, your core will be firing like crazy, so you get a bye on a set of crunches. “You can add the side-to-side swing into your normal training routine or do it as a warm-up,” says Lee Boyce, a Toronto-based strength and conditioning coach. Get comfortable with the move using a lighter weight than those for normal swings, and take it easy, speedwise, until you get in a groove. Start with three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

How to Do It
The Setup: With your feet shoulder-width apart, hinge at the hips, grab the kettlebell by the handle (horn), then stand with a slight bend in your knees.

The Move: With the bell centered and your arms completely straight, torque your hips to one side, allowing your torso to rotate to the same side, and use that momentum to swing the bell up above your head. You can pivot on the trailing leg, but don’t allow your foot to come off the floor.