Will Kettlebell Swings Burn Belly Fat? (Fact Checked)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: January 26, 2024
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As a personal trainer, I’m always getting my clients to try new ways to get fit and speed up their fat loss. In many cases, people get bored repeating the same exercises.

One way to avoid that monotony is to introduce new exercises like kettlebell swings.

Not only can these be extremely fun, but they are also a very effective way to burn more calories and target the more stubborn body fat around the belly.

But before you just grab the first kettlebell you see, let me show you how to approach this the right way.

Quick Summary

  • Kettlebell swings can help burn belly fat as the majority of the exercises engage the entire body.
  • Two-handed kettlebell swings, one-handed kettlebell swings, and kettlebell snatches are examples of kettlebell workouts meant for belly fat.
  • To burn belly fat effectively, train with intensity; go for heavy KBs, and do more reps (20-25) with short rests of 30-45 seconds.
  • As a personal trainer, I've seen remarkable transformations in my clients, and I attribute a significant part of that success to kettlebell swings.

Can You Lose Belly Fat By Doing Kettlebell Swings?

A man using a kettlebell to lose belly fat

Yes, you can lose belly fat by doing kettlebell swings and combining it with a calorie deficit diet, and adequate sleep.

As a trainer, whenever I train my clients using kettlebell workouts, they often comment on how it feels like a full-body exercise that works the calves, core, and shoulders.

Research by experts at the University of Mexico has shown that using kettlebells can be just as effective as regular weight training in building muscle strength [1].

Like with any other form of exercise, it all comes down to form and intensity. According to research published on Bio Med Central, If you want to burn more calories and trigger fat loss, you need to ramp up the intensity levels and add variation [2].

Let’s see what an intense full-body workout with kettlebells would involve.

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4 Kettlebell Exercises for Belly Fat

A close up shot on blue kettlebells

Through years of training my clients with numerous kettlebell exercises, I've found a few that are particularly effective for strengthening core muscles.

But before we start, it's important to note that doing these exercises with proper form and technique is crucial. Always maintain a neutral spine, engage your core, and avoid overextending your back to prevent potential injuries.

You'll need a few different kettlebell weights and probably a heart rate monitor. This will help you make sure that you push your body hard enough to burn fat.

“The cannonball-shaped cast iron orbs called kettlebells were originally developed by Russian strongmen in the early 1700s to quickly build strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. Once relegated to a dusty corner of the weight room, researchers now say kettlebells are experiencing a resurgence in popularity.”

- Louise Chang, MD, WebMD.com

Read More: Kettlebell HIIT Workout to Burn Fat 

Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing

I always advise starting with the KB on the ground between your feet and slightly behind you. You should be reaching for the grip with both hands between your legs.

With your knees slightly bent, lift the kettlebell off the ground and then pull your arms straight forward as you stand up.

This should be one smooth movement and aim to get the weight as high as possible.

Then let it swing back between your legs but don’t let it touch the ground. Repeat this at least 20-25 times and aim to do three sets.

Also Read: Bodyweight Exercise Using Kettlebells

Increasing Weight Swings

It's essentially the same exercise as the two-handed swings but pushes your aerobic capacity that bit further. I've seen clients break a sweat faster and feel the burn more intensely with this variation.

After you complete a set, pick a heavier kettlebell for the next set, but aim to do the same number of reps.

You should really feel this increasing strain in your abdominal muscles, helping you to shed fat faster.

One-Handed Kettlebell Swing

A man doing a one-handed kettlebell swing

This is a slightly more advanced exercise, and you’ll feel quite a difference in your balance and stabilizing muscles.

Pick a smaller weight and do the same movement as the two-handed version. I often challenge my clients with this to test their progress.

Aim to do 20-25 reps for three sets.

Kettlebell Snatch

And finally, try to take it one step further with the KB snatch. I always tell my clients to only attempt it once they're comfortable with the previous exercises.

Aim to do a one-handed kettlebell swing. But instead of letting it swing back down once you get to about head-high, pull it further up over your head.

Hold it at the top for two seconds, and then swing it down again.

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Intensity and Diet

I always emphasize the importance of training with intensity. If you're serious about shedding that belly fat, don't go for the smallest kettlebell. Go for a heavier KB that you can manage and perform the above exercises as a form of high-intensity interval training.

At the end of each set, your heart should be pumping, give yourself 30-45 seconds to catch your breath.

This will burn calories a lot more efficiently, and will vastly improve your cardiovascular conditioning according to studies published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information [3].

However, you also need to watch what you eat. Being on a calorie deficit can fast-track the whole calorie-burning process.

 


References:

  1. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/kettlebellresearch.html
  2. https://hqlo.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12955-017-0743-4
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7215828/

FAQs

How Many Kettlebell Swings Should I Do to Lose Weight?

You should do at least 20 kettlebell swings per set and complete three sets to lose weight. However, it’s difficult to give a precise number as your age, gender, metabolism, and the kettlebell weight will dictate how many swings you should do.

Are Kettlebell Swings Better than Running for Fat Loss?

Yes, kettlebell swings are better than running for fat loss. It’s much easier to adapt your training intensity through kettlebell circuit weight training, which will also build up muscle tone. With running, it’s a lot more common that you hit a weight loss plateau.


References:

  1. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/kettlebellresearch.html
  2. https://hqlo.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12955-017-0743-4
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7215828/
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