Kettlebell swings are an effective, dynamic, and fun routine. Unfortunately, many home gyms lack kettlebells. If we cannot faithfully replicate the muscles used by the swing movement with a similar replacement, we lose the benefits of the exercise.
All is not lost, though. We know several kettlebell swing alternative exercises for when you’re lacking equipment, plus some thrifty kettlebell replacements.
Table of Contents
- 10 Kettlebell Swing Alternative Exercises
- What Can I Substitute For Kettlebells At Home?
- Benefits Of The Kettlebell Swing Movement
- What Muscles Do Kettlebell Swings Substitutes Work?
- Kettlebell Swing Alternative FAQs
10 Kettlebell Swing Alternative Exercises
If you lack a kettlebell, replacement exercises come in two categories. The best alternatives replace the kettlebell with other weighted equipment, recreating similar movement patterns.
Other alternatives target similar muscles with no equipment. Often, these lack the full-body benefits. However, you can combine multiple routines to replicate kettlebell swing results.
1. Dumbbell Swing
If properly executed, you can use a dumbbell as the best substitute for kettlebell swing exercises to work exactly the same muscles. However, performing the action may be more difficult as dumbbells are evenly weighted and lack the convenient handle.
If you’re feeling thrifty, many stores sell kettlebell-style grips attachable to dumbbells. My favorite is The Original Kettle Gryp, which attaches quickly and easily.
Related Article - Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells
2. Barbell Hip Thrust
This kettlebell swing alternative exercise does not stabilize nor work the muscles of the upper body, instead focusing on the legs, hip, and back muscles.
While a good exercise on its own, it does not faithfully recreate the total-body workout needed for true substitute kettlebell swings. Usually, you are better off opting for dumbbell swings if you are able.
Other Exercises - 10 Best Hip Thrust Alternatives
3. Good Morning
If you are looking to strengthen the muscles on the back half of your body (the posterior chain) but don't care about developing power, the slow bracing movements and similar working musculature of this kettlebell swing substitute make it an excellent choice.
However, if your reasons for loving the kettlebell swing are because it improves your explosiveness and power, you are better off looking elsewhere.
Also Check Out - Good Mornings Vs Romanian Deadlifts
4. Romanian Deadlift (RDLs)
This alternative for kettlebell swings works the same muscles as the barbell hip thrust but is more similar to a kettlebell swing, as the reps are completed without resting your weight. This makes it a more strength-building-based exercise, but you can improve your power too by performing reps faster.
Romanian deadlifts can be performed with either dumbbells or a barbell.
Other Workouts - 12 Effective Romanian Deadlift Alternative Exercises
5. Sumo Deadlift
This kettlebell swings substitute works many of the same muscles but lacks power development and arm follow-through or stabilization.
While a great exercise, it cannot replicate the effects of a kettlebell swing very faithfully.
Learn More - Different Types Of Barbells For Home Gyms
6. Banded Pull Through
If you’re looking for an alternative kettlebell swing exercise that works many of the same muscles, this is a good choice. The main difference is that your shoulders are not worked as hard, but your lats receive a more significant amount of focus instead.
7. Broad Jumps
If you have no equipment at all, broad jumps can replicate many of the processes of a kettlebell swing. The same explosive power development occurs in the hips and legs, while the arm and shoulder muscle systems are used similarly in the follow-through action.
While handy because you can do them anywhere, the main difference between broad jumps and kettlebell swings is that they are less useful for improving muscle strength.
See Also - Does Cardio Burn Muscle?
8. Box Jumps
Box jumps require minimal equipment and replicate the bottom-half benefits of the kettlebell swing, working your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as developing your explosive power. Your arm and shoulder joints and stabilizers are also worked during the propulsion stage.
While not as good for quickly gaining strength, these are the best bodyweight alternative to kettlebell swings.
If you keep landing on the box in a squat position, it means your box is too high for the exercise.
Suggested Equipment - 9 Best Plyometric Boxes For Garage Gyms
9. Medicine Ball Twists
This Russian kettlebell swing alternative is primarily a core exercise. While you won’t get the full-body benefits of the kettlebell swing, it does touch on many of the same areas.
As well as your core, both your internal and external obliques get a lot of use. Medicine ball twists also promote good posture, improve balance, develop rotational power, and help back pain in a similar way to kettlebell swings.
Related Article - Best Medicine Ball Slam Alternatives
10. Heavy Bag Training With Weighted Gloves
A varied 20-minute punchbag routine will work the entire body in a very similar way to performing kettlebell swings.
To hit all the same muscle groups, ensure you:
Depending on your fitness level, you may need to incorporate small pauses into your 20 minutes.
Learn More - How To Hang A Punching Bag
What Can I Substitute For Kettlebells At Home?
If you have shopped for kettlebells recently, you’ll have noticed low stocks and eye-watering prices due to supply chain issues and coronavirus increasing home gym supply demands.
Thankfully, many household items can become DIY kettlebells. They just need a sturdy handle and the ability to hold customizable weight.
Here are some of our favorites:
Benefits Of The Kettlebell Swing Movement
Kettlebell swings heap benefits across the board – that’s why most gym-goers perform them.
Kettlebell weights vary, so everybody can find a perfect match. You only need a relatively able body and good form.
What Muscles Do Kettlebell Swings Substitutes Work?
Your abs work in opposition to the erector spinae, flexing and resisting spinal hyperextension. They are used predominantly during the top of the swing when the momentum of the moving kettlebell is felt most.
See Also - Muscles Worked By Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings mimic the front raise, generally regarded as the best workout for the front deltoids. These muscles contribute to the swing alongside momentum from your hip extension and are responsible for controlling the lowering arc of the kettlebell too.
These muscles do a lot of work throughout the process of your swing, working to keep the spine erect and prevent injuries caused by shear force. Working them with a kettlebell swing improves posture, power, and mobility.
The primary focus of the workout, your glutes are responsible for extending your hips during the swing. They work alongside your shoulders to generate the momentum and power of the movement that swings your arms.
Your hamstrings also work to extend your hips during the swing. They also stabilize your knees, counteracting the forces coming from your quadriceps. The straighter your legs remain during the exercise, the harder you’ll work the hamstrings.
Keeping your lats, located below the shoulder blades, activated during your swing is essential for keeping your swing stable, as well as achieving upper body toning and strengthening.
Although not specifically targeted by the exercise, your quadriceps are involved in extending your knees. This means that the muscles here are activated most when your knees bend during the swing.
The trapezius maintains the position of your upper back and shoulders during the swing, which is essential for keeping good form and preventing injury. Ensuring a neutral position where the shoulders do not protract forward is the key to maximizing their benefits.
Kettlebell Swing Alternative FAQs
Why shouldn’t you do kettlebell swings?
Kettlebell swings are in no way an overrated exercise. They offer a convenient, efficient routine that builds muscle strength while contributing to other key fitness goals.
However, the main danger lies in improper form. If you cannot keep your spine neutral or lack hip mobility, you can cause serious back pain or injury to yourself.
How do you modify a kettlebell swing?
If you are finding your kettlebell swing exercises too easy and want additional challenge, consider increasing the weight of your kettlebell or incorporate other exercises such as lunges, goblet squats, and Russian twists into your routine.
Is it OK to do kettlebell swings every day?
The answer is different for everybody. Each person’s body recovers at different speeds depending on their age, diet, fitness level, genetics, and day-to-day routine.
It’s possible to do kettlebell swings every day safely. However, if you experience noticeable fatigue or pain with everyday repetition, listen to your body and incorporate rest days. Overworking your body can do more harm than good.
There is no denying kettlebell swings are among the best and most efficient full-body workout routines out there.
However, this doesn’t mean the same results aren’t available if you don’t have a kettlebell of your own. Alternative use of the equipment you do have, creative repurposing of household items, and substitute routines can all give the same benefits. Good luck!
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Last Updated on March 21, 2023