The kettlebell swing is an amazing and perhaps perfect exercise all by itself, but variety is the spice of life. Perhaps the best form of variety is just improving your mastery of the swing, getting stronger and swinging bells of all sizes better, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a bit and throw in element of surprise.
For this reason I’ve compiled a brief list of some of my favorite non-kettlebell exercises I enjoy pairing with the swing to turn up the heat.
You may notice in my list that I tend to pair kettlebell swings with an exercise that allows the grip and forearms to recover between sets of swings.
18 Exercises to Pair With the Kettlebell Swing
Something “special” happens whenever you pair the swing with a horizontal exercise like the plank or push-up that really gets the heart pumping in way that will surprise you the first you try it.
Swings + Planks
This is the old standard. The goal is to use the planks to improve the standing lockout of the swing and make each successive set stronger.
Example: 20 swings, 10 seconds plank, 10 seconds fast & loose, repeat x 4 rounds.
Swings + Wheel Barrow with partner or Shoulder Taps in a push-up position
Example: 20 swings + wheel barrow for time or distance. Repeat for rounds.
If you don’t have a partner you can elevate your feet on a stable surface and perform shoulder taps.
Swings + Push-ups
A logical progression from the swings + plank.
Example: 20 swings, 2 pushups, 15 swings, 3 pushups, 10 swings, 5 pushups. Start over & repeat.
Swings + Crawling
Swing then perform various crawling techniques for a specified amount of time or distance.
Depending on the crawling variation used this can be a progression or regression from the Swing + Pushup pairing.
Note: For a challenge try Crawling Backwards Up Hill.
Swings + Mountain Climbers
Example: 20 swings + 20 mountain climbers (left + right = 1).
Swings + Hand Stand or Head Stands
Example: 1 minute of swings + 1 minute of handstand practice
Swings + Cartwheels for time, reps or distance
Example: 1 minute of swings + 6 cartwheels
The following pairings will have you feeling you’re in a Rocky training montage.
Swings + Jump/Speed Rope
Perform 30 seconds of swings, then perform 30 seconds of easy speed rope as recovery.
I enjoy lights swings + Double-Unders or Heavy Swings + rapid alternate step.
Swings + Medicine Ball Slams
Swings + Jogging
Perform a hard set of swings, jog down & back 25 to 100 yards and repeat.
Swings + Hill or Stair Sprints
20 swings, sprint up a short hill or set of stairs. Repeat.
“Dragon Whips its Tail”: Swings + Hitting a Heavy Bag or Pad work
This one gets it’s own name because it’s one of my favorites.
Example: 30 seconds of swings + 60 seconds of bag work, repeat.
I enjoy focusing on a different technique or combination each time I return to the bag.
If you’re a martial artist I recommend pairing swings with back-kicks as a form of “a-ha” drill where each improves the other.
Agility & Reaction
Swings + Agility Ladder Footwork
20 swings + Perform various footwork drills on the agility ladder.
Swings + Reaction Sprints
Perform a set of swings, then sprint or jog. At random times the coach or partner will give a signal to change direction to which you must quickly sprint the other way when the signal is given.
Swings + Kneeling Jump Squats
10 to 20 swings, then assume a kneeling position with your butt on your heels.
At your partner’s or instructor’s signal jump from kneeling, landing in a squat, then sprint a prescribed distance (10 yards or so) and jog back.
My favorite variation is to add a jumping knee tuck after landing in the squat and before sprinting.
Swings + Partner Game
1 minute of swings + 1 minute of a partner based game that encourages agility & reaction speed
These drills require a larger workout area like a soccer field or or basketball court in order to ensure participants don’t trip over kettlebells. Perform swings on one end of the field, then perform the partner game on the other.
Swings + Hand Slap game (get slapped, perform a pushup)
Swings + Dodge Ball (just don’t throw bells at each other)
Swings + tag ( not just for kids ). This works well with a large group. After a set of swings move the group a safe distance away from the bells the have everyone jog around at random trying to tag others while avoiding getting tagged themselves.
Throwing For Distance
The following pairings require throwing the bell, so a suitable training surface that prevents the kettlebell from bouncing like a beach, sand volleyball court or grassy area is preferable for safety.
Swings + Throw + Walk:
Perform 10-20 swings and throw the kettlebell for distance (outdoors), then walk up to the bell and repeat. The further you throw the bell the more rest you earn between swings.
Swings + Overspeed Sprinting
Perform 5 to 10 swings. On the final rep hike the kettlebell behind you for distance and allow it to launch you into your sprint.
You’ll experience a short over-speed sensation from the equal-yet-opposite reaction. Try this in the sand for an extra challenge.
There you have it, a list of some of my favorite exercises to pair with the kettlebell swing. Of course you don’t have to stop there, you can come up with your own pairings or replace swings with all sorts of swing variations like the side-stepping swing or other forms of kettlebell ballistics.