[This is a guest blog from Brandon Hooks. Brandon is a senior at Ferrum College pursuing his degree in Health and Human Performance. Brandon is participating in the coaching mentorship program at Athletic Lab.]

DSC08926Kettlebells are one of the workout tools for helping promote strength and many other bodily benefits. In recent years it has been on the rise and used in many exercise plans. Kettlebell swings are an exercise many personal fitness trainers look towards using in their workouts. Are kettlebell swings effective in a full body workout? There are many speculations out there saying that yes kettlebell swings or exercises help and work, but is there evidence to back up this claim?

In a 2012 research study at the Exercise Physiology Laboratory and Center at California State University Fullerton, the effects of kettlebell training on vertical jump, strength and body composition versus that of weightlifting.  The study found that both kettlebell training and short term weight lifting were beneficial to increasing power and strength and there was no significant difference in the benefits of one over the other for increasing vertical jump or body composition. The study did find that weightlifting was more beneficial to gaining strength over a 6 week training period.

206-kettlebell-1According to Jeffery S. Harrison, who wrote the article “Applications f kettlebells in Exercise program Design”, says kettlebells maybe beneficial for improving cardio respiratory fitness. The research to back this claim are found in a study by Farrer et al. (2) which it was determined that the heart rate response and oxygen cost of performing the kettlebell swing had a greater impact to the cardio respiratory system than have been shown with the traditional circuit weight training. The majority of kettlebell exercises focus on dynamic, total body integration movements rather than muscular or joint isolation. There is not enough evidence to back up claims that kettlebell exercise are the most effective total body workout. Yes, the movements of kettlebell exercises are ballistic naturally, but many still ponder if this effectively increases muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardio, and decreases body fat.


  1. Otto, W.H. III, Coburn, J.W., Brown, L.E., and Spiering, B.A. (2012). Effects of weightlifting vs. kettlebell training on vertical jump, strength, and body composition. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(5), 1199-1202.
  2. Farrar RE, Mayhew JL, and Koch AJ. Oxygen cost of kettlebell swings. J Strength Cond Res 24: 1034–1036, 2010.
  3. Harrison, Jeffrey S., Brad Schoenfeld, and Melody L. Schoenfeld. “Applications of Kettlebells in Exercise Program Design.” Strength and Conditioning Journal 33.6 (2011): 86-89. Web.