Why The Double Kettlebell Swing Should be Included in Your Workouts
Most of us who’ve tried the regular hard-style single kettlebell swing is a great, low-impact, high-intensity exercise that improves grip strength and power and helps make your glutes pop. But to double the fun and the difficulty level of the movement, the double kettlebell swing provide a unique challenge.
Double-arm swings with one kettlebell are a fundamental movement that forms the basis of many other KB exercises and are arguably one of the most important kettlebell exercises anyone can do. But there is one way to double this swing fun—yes, the double kettlebell swing.
With the double kettlebell swing, you’ll lift more weight, leading to higher-intensity cardiovascular training and increased grip strength, and you’ll reduce any strength imbalances between sides. Here we’ll go into everything double kettlebell swing for you to get the best out of this great strength and conditioning exercise.
Ready to get your swing on? Then let’s go.
What is the Double Kettlebell Swing?
A simple explanation is that the double kettlebell swing is a swing with two kettlebells, which is similar to the regular kettlebell but with minor changes. First, your stance is wider to swing kettlebells between your legs pain-free because the alternative is unpleasant. Think sumo squat stance with your toes pointed forward. Second, to swing the two kettlebells between your legs without taking anything out, you grip them with a neutral grip.
Some may prefer the overhand grip, but you must get wider in your stance. IMO, this is a matter of personal preference. But if you have never performed the double kettlebell swing, start with a neutral grip.
How To Do A Double Kettlebell Swing
- Stand with a wider-than-shoulder-width stance with two kettlebells in front of your feet. Ensure to stand wide enough for the two kettlebells to swing through.
- Hinge and reach forward to grip each kettlebell with your wrists in neutral and palms facing each other.
- Get your chest up and shoulders down by squeezing your armpits together to engage your upper back and to ensure a neutral spine.
- Then, use your forearms to cushion against your groin muscles as you hike the kettlebells behind you.
- Then, snap your hips forward, using momentum to swing the kettlebells near chest height.
- Your finishing position needs to look like an upright front plank. Perform in a continuous loop for desired reps.
The double kettlebell swing is predominantly a lower-body movement, but to make this happen with good form, a few upper-body muscles are involved too. Here are the primary muscles trained by the double kettlebell swing.
- Glutes: All three of the glute muscles work to provide a powerful hip extension
- Hamstrings: Eccentrically contract during the loading phase and assist the glutes with hip extension.
- Lower Back: The erector spinae isometrically contracts to keep the lower back neutral in all swing phases.
- Upper Back: Keeping your shoulder down and back trains the rhomboids, traps, and lats.
- Forearms & Wrists: If you cannot grip it for an extended time, then you cannot rip it.
- Triceps: Contract isometrically to keep the elbows extended during the set.
- Heart & Lungs: Although technically not a muscle, this exercise will have you sucking in serious amounts of oxygen.
Double Kettlebell Swing Benefits
Double kettlebell swings are extremely brutal and will have you swearing and sweating profusely. But as hard as they are, double kettlebell swings have many benefits, which are listed below.
- More Weight = More Strength: You will have less weight in each hand than the regular kettlebell swings; you will most likely swing more weight. For example, if you swing a 35-pound kettlebell, you can swing 26 pounds in each hand for a total of 52, a 17-pound increase.
- Improved Conditioning: Using more loads may increase your cardiovascular conditioning and fat loss potential. A small 2021 study showed that using heavier loads during your double kettlebell swing workout will increase your heart rate and improve your conditioning.
- More Muscle: Swinging heavier weights will make the glutes work harder to extend the hip and give you more potential for the baby got back look.
- Increased Grip Strength & Reduced Strength Imbalances: Because your arms are working separately, double kettlebell swings will help increase your grip strength. By using each hand throughout the swing, without each hand having to grip the same kettlebell, your grip strength in each hand will improve.
- Improved Mental Toughness: Double kettlebell swings are brutal, no doubt. They are tough on your lungs, grip, glutes, and hamstrings. When performing this exercise, you’ll have an internal dialogue, like, ‘This is hard; you can quit anytime. But every time you conquer those thoughts, you’ll improve your mental toughness and physical capacity to do stuff.
Double Kettlebell Swing Technique
Let’s assume you know how to swing one kettlebell with two hands with good form because that is a whole other article that has been done a fair bit.
If you’re beginning your swing journey, master this swing before moving on to the double kettlebell swing. A good hip hinge (not a squatty hinge), finishing with your glutes and not the lower back, and using your hips and not your shoulder to raise the kettlebell all apply here. Double kettlebell swings require a few adjustments to perform with good form.
- Perfect Your Stance: Remember the Goldilocks principle? Not too cold, not too hot, but just right. It’s the same with your stance. Narrow, well, that could be embarrassing, and too wide means the knees may collapse inward. Adjust your stance and perform a few practice swings.
- Tension, Tension, And More Tension: You need plenty of upper back tension to keep a neutral spine while hinging with power and intent. With the double kettlebell swing, each kettlebell swings separately. Keeping upper back tension is crucial to keep a good swing path and avoid the kettlebells crashing into one other (or other body parts). Squeeze your armpits together like your groin depends on it because it does.
- Don’t Worry About Height: The American swing aside, you shouldn’t worry about the height at the end of the swing. If you are doing everything right, the height at the end of the rep will take care of itself. But you’re using more weight with the double kettlebell swing, so you might not get as high as the single kettlebell swing. Trying to get higher means using the shoulders and losing the lower back position, and you don’t want either.
Use double kettlebell swings like you would the regular kettlebell swing.
It can be programmed for power to prime you to lift heavy. For instance, performing a couple of sets of 8 reps after your warm-up with prime you for the heavy deadlifts in your program. Or you can program it in the strength part of your program as an accessory exercise. Pairing it with an exercise that doesn’t require much grip strength is best. For example
1A. Double Kettlebell Swings: 12-15 reps
1B. Unilateral Floor Press: 8-15 reps per side
If you are game, double kettlebell swings can be used as a finisher at the end of your training or as a standalone workout between strength days to improve your conditioning. Here are a few examples.
Instructions: The kettlebells stay in your hands until you have finished the tri-set. Rest two minutes between the tri-set and repeat for two to five rounds.
Swing, Clean, Snatch
1A. Double-arm Kettlebell Swing: 6-12 reps
1B. Double Kettlebell Clean: 6-12 reps
1C. Double Kettlebell snatch: 6-12 reps
Swing, Snatch, Carry
1A. Double kettlebell swing: 6-12 reps
1B. Double kettlebell snatch: 6-12 reps
1C. Double Overhead Kettlebell Carry: 20-40 yards
Swing, Squat, Press
1A. Double Kettlebell Swing: 6-12 reps
1B. Double Kettlebell Front Squat: 6-12 reps
1C. Alternating Overhead Press: 6-12 reps both sides
Double KettleBell Swing Variations
Once you feel you have the double kettlebell swings down and want to challenge yourself further, take these variations out for a swing.