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9 Kettlebell Swing Alternatives For Those Who Don’t Own Kettlebells

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The kettlebell swing is an excellent exercise for building strength and power in the hips, glutes, and legs while also burning calories to help with weight loss. It also improves core stability and increases mobility and flexibility in the hips and hamstrings. 

But not everybody has a set of kettlebells in their home gym. 

That is certainly the case with many people I train in their home gyms. As a result, I’ve developed an arsenal of kettlebell swing alternatives that can be done at home when you don’t have access to kettlebells. 

In this article, I’ll lay out the 9 best kettlebell swing alternatives that use a similar movement pattern and work the same muscle groups.

Criteria for Selecting the Best Kettlebell Swing Alternatives

Here are some criteria to consider when selecting the best kettlebell swing alternative exercises:

  1. Targeted Muscle Group: Choose exercises that target the same muscle groups as kettlebell swings, such as the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core.
  1. Intensity Level: Select an exercise that provides a similar level of intensity to kettlebell swings, such as a high-impact plyometric movement or a heavier resistance exercise.
  1. Explosive Hip Movement: Choose exercises that involve a similar hip hinge action as the kettlebell swing. There should be some sort of explosive element to the exercise. 

Muscles Worked in the Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing Alternatives Muscles Used
  • Glutes: The glutes are the primary muscle group worked in the kettlebell swing, as they are responsible for driving the movement and extending the hips.
  • Hamstrings: The hamstrings work in conjunction with the glutes to provide power and stability during the kettlebell swing.
  • Quads: The quads help to control the descent of the kettlebell and prepare for the next repetition.
  • Core: The core muscles, including the abs, obliques, and lower back, are engaged throughout the kettlebell swing to maintain stability and control.
  • Shoulders: The shoulders help to control the kettlebell during the swing, and also provide stability during the movement.
  • Forearms: The forearms work to grip the kettlebell and control its movement during the swing.

How to Do the Kettlebell Swing

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell in front of your hips with both hands.
  2. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly to lower your torso while keeping your back straight.
  3. Explosively extend your hips and straighten your legs, swinging the kettlebell forwards and up to chest height.
  4. Allow the kettlebell to fall back down between your legs and repeat the movement.
  5. Throughout the exercise, keep your core tight, your back straight, and your gaze forwards.

Can Kettlbell Swings Help Build Muscle?

Yes, kettlebell swings can help build muscle.

The explosive movement of the kettlebell swing recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers, which can lead to an increase in muscle mass and strength over time when performed as part of a well-rounded strength training program. 

The kettlebell swing can also help improve power, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness, making it an effective exercise for both building muscle and improving overall fitness.

Is The Kettlebell Swing a Good Fat Loss Exercise?

Yes, the kettlebell swing can be a good exercise for fat loss. 

The kettlebell swing is a high-intensity, full-body exercise that can help increase your heart rate and burn calories.

Because it works several muscle groups at once, it can help you build lean muscle mass, which can boost your metabolism and increase your ability to burn fat even when you’re not exercising. 

When performed as part of a well-rounded fitness program that includes proper nutrition, the kettlebell swing can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that weight loss is a complex process that involves many factors and that no single exercise can guarantee specific results.

Equipment Needed for These Exercises

9 Kettlebell Swing Alternatives that Replicate the Same Movement Pattern

Kettlebell Swing Alternative Infographic part 1

1. Dumbbell Swing

Equipment needed for the dumbbell swing:

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Adjustable Dumbbells

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Classic
Read our best adjustable dumbbell guide here

These are the dumbbells we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 50 hours of research and compared over 100 dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells make sense for most home gyms as they save space.

The Nüobell dumbbells go all the way to 80lbs per hand. This means they are much more versatile than most 50lbs adjustable dumbbells. You can use these for heavy shrugs, squats and bench press etc.

The main reason they are the top pick is because of their shape. They actually feel like real dumbbells and are not awkward to lift like some others.

How to do the dumbbell swing:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell with both hands.
  2. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly to lower your torso, keeping your back straight. The dumbbell should hang between your legs.
  3. Explosively extend your hips and legs to stand up and swing the dumbbell upward to about shoulder height.
  4. Let the momentum of the swing carry the dumbbell back down between your legs.
  5. Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps, making sure to keep your form and control the movement throughout.

Dumbbell swing muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Forearms

2. Romanian Deadlift

Equipment needed for the Romanian deadlift:

Rogue Ohio Cerakote Bar

Rogue Ohio Bar Cerakote
Read our best Olympic barbell guide here

This is the bar that we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 120 hours of research and tested over 100 barbells.

It is affordable but comes with some high specs. The Rogue Work Hardening and 190k PSI tensile strength mean the bar will last a lifetime in a home gym.

It is a multi-purpose bar with a 28.5mm diameter shaft and composite bushings in the sleeves. This means it’s balanced for heavy slow bench presses but you can also perform snatches and fast overhead lifts.

How to do the Romanian deadlift (find the best Romanian deadlift alternatives here):

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and  a barbell held at arm’s length with a reverse grip.
  2. Keeping your back straight and core engaged, bend at the hips and lower your torso toward the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent and the weights should be hanging in front of your legs.
  3. While keeping your back straight, continue to lower the weights towards your ankles. Your hamstrings should be stretched and your glutes should be engaged.
  4. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, stop lowering the weights and hold the position for a moment.
  5. Slowly raise your torso back up to the starting position, using your glutes and hamstrings to control the movement.

Note; It’s important to remember to keep your back straight and avoid rounding your lower back during the movement.

Romanian muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Forearms

3. Band Pull Through

Equipment needed for the band pull through:

How to do the band pull through:

  1. Anchor a resistance band to the bottom of an internal door. 
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about three feet in front of the door, facing away from it. Hold the band in both hands between your legs. Adjust your position so the band is taut.
  3. Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground.
  4. Keeping your legs straight, pull the band through your legs and back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.

Band pull through muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Forearms

4. Hip Thrust

Equipment needed for the hip thrust:

Rogue Fleck Bumper Plates

Rogue Fleck Bumper Plate
Read our best bumper plates guide here

Bumper plates are ideal for a home gym.

They can last a lifetime and allow you to do additional lifts which require you to drop the bar.

Our team has compared over 100 types and the Rogue Fleck plates came out on top.

They are great value, use color allowing you to quickly see how much you’re lifting and the pattern will give your home gym a unique look.

How to do the hip thrust:

  1. Start by sitting on the ground with your back against a bench or box and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place a barbell or weight plate across your hips. If you’re new to this exercise, you can start with a lighter weight or no weight at all.
  3. Drive your heels into the ground and raise your hips towards the ceiling. Keep your abs tight and your back straight.
  4. At the top of the movement, pause for a moment and squeeze your glutes.
  5. Lower your hips back down to the ground, keeping control of the weight.

Hip thrust muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Core

Notes: Don’t enjoy doing the hip thrust? Check out our hip thrust alternatives and find yourself a substitute of your liking.

5. Plyometric Box Jumps

Equipment needed for plyometric box jumps:

  • A plyometric box

How to do plyometric box jumps:

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy box or platform that is appropriate for your current fitness level. The box should be high enough to challenge you, but not so high that you can’t safely jump onto it.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  3. Swing your arms back and then forward to generate momentum.
  4. Quickly jump onto the box, landing with both feet at the same time. Your knees should be slightly bent upon landing to absorb the impact.
  5. Step back down from the box and repeat the exercise for the desired number of reps.
  6. As you progress, you can increase the height of the box to make the exercise more challenging.

Plyometric box jumps muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core

Note: want to add dumbbells to your home gym set but can’t afford a complete rack set? Check our research on the best adjustable dumbbells for home use.

Kettlebell Swing Alternative Infographic part 2

6. Medicine Ball Slam

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • Medicine Ball

How to do exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball in both hands.
  2. Raise the ball overhead, fully extending your arms.
  3. Use your entire body to forcefully throw the ball down onto the ground, slamming it with as much power as you can.
  4. Quickly catch the ball as it bounces back up, and immediately repeat the movement.
  5. Repeat the slams for the desired number of reps, making sure to keep your form consistent throughout the exercise.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lats
  • Triceps
  • Quads
  • Core

Note: If you like this exercise, also check out our medicine ball slam alternatives and variations, to explore similar exercises.

7. Sledgehammer Tire Slam

Equipment needed for the sledgehammer tire slam:

  • Sledgehammer
  • Tire

How to do the sledgehammer tire slam:

  1. Start by standing in front of a tire with a sledgehammer in hand.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent and your core engaged.
  3. Hold the sledgehammer with both hands, using an overhand grip, and raise it above your head.
  4. Swing the sledgehammer down towards the tire with force, hitting it as hard as you can.
  5. Repeat the movement for a set number of reps, making sure to alternate sides with each rep.
  6. Keep your form strict and controlled, engaging your core and avoiding twisting your body.
  7. Make sure to warm up properly before attempting this exercise, and gradually increase the weight of the sledgehammer as you progress.

Sledgehammer tire slam muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lats
  • Triceps
  • Quads
  • Core

8. Sumo Deadlift

Equipment needed for sumo deadlift:

How to do the sumo deadlift:

  1. Start by standing in front of a barbell with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and turned outwards at a 45-degree angle. Your toes should be pointing forward and your shins should be close to the barbell.
  2. Bend down and grip the barbell using a double overhand grip, with your hands positioned just outside your legs.
  3. Lower your hips down towards the barbell, keeping your back straight and your chest up.
  4. Drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees to lift the barbell off the ground. Make sure to keep your back straight and your chest up.
  5. Once the barbell reaches knee height, push your hips forward and stand tall, locking out at the top.
  6. Slowly lower the barbell back to the ground, keeping your back straight and your chest up

Sumo deadlift muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Forearms

9. Good Mornings

Equipment needed for the good morning:

How to do the good morning:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell behind your neck, resting on your traps.
  2. Keep your feet firmly planted and your knees slightly bent.
  3. Hinge forward at the hips, lowering your torso towards the ground.
  4. Keep your back straight and your head up.
  5. Go as low as you can without rounding your back or letting your knees straighten completely.
  6. Pause for a moment and then push your hips forward, using your glutes and hamstrings to lift your torso back to the starting position.

Good morning muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Lower back
  • Hamstrings

Kettlebell Swing Alternatives: The Bottom Line

The kettlebell swing is an effective exercise for developing explosive strength, building muscle and burning calories. If you have access to a kettlebell, I definitely recommend it.

But if you don’t, you now have an arsenal of 9 very good kettlebell swing alternative exercises. Test out each of them and then settle on the two or three that work best for you.

Want to work on your squat at home and need a safe, secure rack to work out inside of? Check out our guide to the best squat racks for home use.

Want to improve your home gym?

Use the hours of research, testing and experience inside the ultimate guide to build a home gym. Find out…

  • The 4 items of kit every gym needs
  • What you should avoid
  • Where to find bargains and discounts

Click here to learn more about how to build a home gym.

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Steve is a certified personal trainer, current home gym owner, former gym owner, and copywriter. He joined his first gym at age 15 and, five years later, he was managing his own studio. In 1987, he became the first personal fitness trainer in New Zealand.

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