Kettlebell Swings: Back Balm for the Sedentary [Seminarian]

I love books. Books, however, do not like my back.

Can you relate?

Maybe it’s not sitting around reading books all day, but I imagine plenty of you out there suffer from back pain/fatigue.

Let me share a time-saving solution I’ve recently found: two-handed kettlebell swings.

Our small kettlebell family
Our small kettlebell family

How can these cannonballs with handles help your back?

Well, the kettlebell swing is one of the many exercises out there that activates your posterior chain – the muscles along the back of your body.

However, as BreakingMuscle.com clarifies:

for those with lower back issues traditional posterior chain exercises such as deadlifts, good mornings, etc. may exacerbate the condition, while swings may not. For those looking to strengthen the lower back and unable to use these traditional exercises the swing may be just the thing they’re looking for

Thanks to the full-body movement of the swing, you really don’t need to use a lot of weight to feel a difference. For example, I’ve been squatting 225 lbs. in maintenance mode recently, and after the first day of kettlebell swings with a 35 lb. kettlebell, my glutes and hamstrings were more sore than they’d been in months!

I’ve been very impressed with the results of a basic kettlebell workout, and it will enable me to get exercise at home during the semester, when going to the gym is more of a stretch.

Would you like to give kettlebell swings a try?

First, learn the proper form and then look for a kettlebell to give it a try.

For the CliffsNotes version, here’s the Tim Ferriss blogpost on the matter. For a more in-depth approach, BreakingMuscle.com, in addition to their article on why the kettlebell swing is such a great exercise, has this piece on how to do the perfect kettlebell swing.

If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a helpful instructional video from Eric Moss:

What weight should you start with? I began with a 35 lb. (16 kg.). Kettlebells USA has one of the best guides on choosing a starting weight, based upon your gender and current fitness level.

What brand of kettlebell should you purchase? I went with Sweethome’s budget pick: the CAP Cast Iron Competition Weight Kettlebell. But, the in-depth review of different brands by Mark Bixby at Sweethome can’t be beat. I like the CAP, but I now agree with his assessment that the grip tears up your hands a bit on one-handed excercises.

Give two-handed kettlebell swings a try! Your back and body will thank you (although, full disclosure, you’ll be sore after the first time).

If you have any comments or questions about kettlebell swings or other methods of easing back pain in the midst of a sedentary lifestyle, please leave them below!

~Josh

Author: joshuapsteele

Transitional Deacon. Ph.D. Student. Rookie Anglican. Barth Fanboy.

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