10 Kettlebell Swing Alternatives (Substitutes For Home Gym)

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. 

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.

  • Stand over a dumbbell with both feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Keeping your spine neutral and hinging at your hips, grip your dumbbell by the weighted end. 
  • Still keeping your spine neutral, bring your dumbbell backward between your legs. 
  • Swing your dumbbell up parallel to the floor, generating the movement with your hips, not your arms.  
  • Snap your hips forward until stacked under your shoulders at the movement’s top. 
  • Lock your core to avoid arching your back.  
  • Hinge your hips again, bringing your dumbbell back between your legs. Your spine should be neutral again. 

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

dumbbell swing

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. 

  • Sit on the floor with your upper back touching a bench or other surface as a pivot point. Feet should be flat, hip-width apart, and both knees bent at 90-degree angles. 
  • Rest the barbell on top of your hips. 
  • While keeping your spine neutral, pivot your upper back and use your glutes to raise your hips from the floor until they are extended.  
  • Maintain core engagement to prevent any back arching at the top of the movement. 
  • Lower yourself with control back to the ground. 
Barbell Hip Thrust

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.

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and knees bent slightly. Rest a barbell on the upper back's trapezius muscles near the shoulders. 
  • Prevent any rounding of the shoulders or back by tightening your upper back and engaging your core. 
  • Keep a neutral spine and hinge with your hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. 
  • Push with your hips and legs through the floor to undo the previous motion. 
Good Mornings

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. 

  • Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, arms fully extended, gripping your weight, core engaged, and knees and hips stacked together.  
  • With a neutral spine, hinge your hips and allow your knees to bend – do this until the weight reaches mid-shin height. 
  • Push through your legs to stand up again, driving your hips so they meet the weight as it progresses up the thigh to its lockout position. Keep the spine neutral throughout. 
  • Repeat the next rep without putting the weight down. 
Romanian Deadlift

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.

  • Load barbell with 45lbs+ each side or use wider bumper plates if too heavy. 
  • Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width, shins vertical, and toes turned outward. 
  • With a neutral spine, hinge your hips and bend your knees to grip the barbell with arms fully extended. 
  • Tighten your lats by squeezing your shoulders together, then use your legs to push away from the ground and stand, tightening your glutes as you rise. 
  • Raise until arms are fully extended. Keep your core engaged and your knees and hips locked. 
  • Reverse the previous motions by hinging your hips and unlocking your knees, return the barbell to the ground while keeping your spine neutral. 
Sumo Deadlift

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. 

  • Anchor your resistance band to something sturdy. 
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, facing away from your anchor point. 
  • Grab the resistance band with both hands between your legs. 
  • If the band is loose, step forward to increase tension. 
  • Keep shoulders and hips stacked, arms straight down, and hands holding the band while resting on your thighs. 
  • With your spine neutral, hinge your hips to pull your arms through your legs. 
  • Explode yourself back to standing using the hips, while squeezing your glutes and engaging the core. Your shoulders and hips should remain stacked, and your back shouldn’t arch. 
Banded Pull Through

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.

  • Stand with both feet hip-width apart. 
  • Begin with legs slightly bent and both arms above your head. 
  • Load yourself by bringing your arms downward and back while your hips and knees are bent, ready to propel your legs. 
  • Propel your body forward by swinging your arms backward and through, while jumping forward by pushing through your legs. 
  • Land both feet at the same time, bending your knees to absorb the force of impact. 
Broad Jumps

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.

  • Stand with a box in front of you and both feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Bend both knees to 45-degree angles and swing both arms backward. 
  • Jump explosively onto the box by swinging your arms forward and pushing through your legs. 
  • Land upon the box as softly as you can, with flat feet and slightly bent knees. 
  • Step backward off the box to resume starting position. 

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

Box Jumps

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. 

  • Start seated with your knees bent, your feet off the ground, your body at around a 45-degree angle, and a medicine ball gripped a few inches from your chest. 
  • While keeping your body centered and your core engaged, twist the medicine ball to your left hip bone. 
  • Again, staying centered and engaged, twist to your right hip bone this time. 
  • After reps, bring the ball to your front and place it on the ground without twisting. 
Medicine Ball Twists

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: 

  • Keep a boxer’s stance, with feet shoulder-width apart and one foot behind the other. 
  • Use your whole body to throw powerful punches, keeping your core engaged and generating force with your legs and through hip rotation. 
  • Follow through fully with all your punches, ensuring your shoulders rotate, and your arm extends properly. 
  • Consider combining jabs, cross punches, explosive lunges, and even side kicks if you feel comfortable. The more variety in techniques, the more body parts you will work. 
  • Don’t be afraid to incorporate squats into your routine to ensure your legs muscles are worked intensely. 

Depending on your fitness level, you may need to incorporate small pauses into your 20 minutes. 

Learn More - How To Hang A Punching Bag

Heavy Bag Training With Weighted Gloves

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: 

  • Backpacks or Gym Bags
    Bags with handles can be filled with heavy items (water bottles, canned goods, books, etc.) and used as a kettlebell replacement. Wrap individual items in a towel to keep them together and observe for signs of tearing.
  • Detergent, Milk, or Water Jugs
    The side handles on many of these containers excellently replicate kettlebells. You can fill them with water, rice, or even coins, depending on your desired weight.
  • Jerry Cans, Paint Cans, or Tea Kettles
    These are sturdy, have convenient handles, and can be filled with your choice of liquids or solids.

Benefits Of The Kettlebell Swing Movement 

Kettlebell swings heap benefits across the board – that’s why most gym-goers perform them. 

The exercise: 

  • Provides an efficient total-body workout, strengthening the arms, shoulders, back, legs, glutes, and core. 
  • Is an excellent cardio workout. 
  • Improves athleticism by strengthening explosive power areas. 
  • Improves posture, balance, and flexibility, reducing back pain. 
  • Burns a six-mile run’s worth of calories in 20 minutes. 
  • Is super convenient – all you need is a short space of time and a kettlebell to work towards multiple fitness goals. 

Kettlebell weights vary, so everybody can find a perfect match. You only need a relatively able body and good form. 

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What Muscles Do Kettlebell Swings Substitutes Work? 

Core Muscles

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

Deltoids

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.

Erector Spinae

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.

Glutes

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.

Hamstrings

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.

Latissimus Dorsi

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.

Quadriceps

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.

Trapezius

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. 


Conclusion

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! 

Last Updated on May 23, 2022