Why Kettlebell Swings Aren’t a Good Exercise for Cardio


Hey guys, I hope you’re having a great week and have some good things in the works for the rest of it. Today I wanted to talk about a topic I’m vehemently passionate about – exercise form and safety!

As a personal trainer, my utmost and number one concern for my clients is their health and safety. Sure, I’m hired to help them achieve a specific goal or goals, and I do everything I can to get them to those goals, but above all else, my aim is to keep them safe. This means I won’t program anything that I find to be injury-promoting in their program, naturally!

Power Exercises

This, of course, covers a huge range of factors, but the one we’re going to talk about today is power exercises. Power exercises should be done with that goal in mind: movements to promote and improve power. Powerful movements are typically quick in movement, and require a great amount of force. Thusly, they should also only be done in short bursts.

That said, one thing that makes me cringe is seeing people doing – or promoting doing – more than 15 or 20 kettlebell swings in a row. Kettlebell swings, aside from being a very complicated movement that is often done incorrectly, is an incredibly powerful, explosive movement, that requires a precise force and range of motion from the hips.

It also requires the entire lumbo-pelvic region to be turned on and firing correctly throughout the entire movement. But what happens when the same movement is repeated for a long period of time? It tends to break down. This is precisely why kettlebell swings aren’t a good exercise for cardio.

Personally, I won’t have my clients perform more than 15 or so kettlebell swings in a row. Forget 50! My back aches just thinking about doing 50 KB swings in a row.

And it’s not just kettlebell swings. It’s all power exercises. Box jumps are another exercise I see being used improperly in a training routine. Performing more than 15 box jumps in a row is just asking for improper form at best, and a harmful accident at worst. It takes a LOT of precise movements to correctly perform a box jump, land it with an absorbing impact, and then perform another.


Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great exercise to improve your jumping power – and I complete them often in order to improve my jumps in volleyball. They just shouldn’t be performed for cardio.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: power exercises like swings and box jumps get the heart rate up! They are technically working the cardiovascular system.

And you’d be right. However, I’m talking about either stringing two power exercises together with little to no breaks or completing one at high repetitions for a lengthy amount of time. Lengthy being subjective to the fitness level of the person doing the movement.

And I do incorporate swings and box jumps into my workouts for power and short bursts of conditioning. However, they’re either paired with a non-power movement, or have ample rest breaks implemented into the drill. Like this one*!


*if you don’t have at least 20 seconds rest before moving back to KB swings, decrease battling rope whips.

What do you typically do for cardio or conditioning?

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