Kettlebell Swings – Calories Burned, Muscles Worked and Why It’s a Truly Unique Exercise

Kettlebell Swings – Calories Burned, Muscles Worked-min

Forget *burning* calories…. kettlebell swings completely incinerate them.

This exercise is an amalgamation of strength, cardio, and functionality, offering a full-body workout in a single swift movement.

In this article, we’ll unpack just how many calories kettlebell swings can burn and explore the factors that affect this.

Quick Summary

  • Kettlebell swings can burn around 15-21 calories per minute.
  • This makes them one of the best movements for burning calories.
  • Factors like weight of the kettlebell and intensity will impact total calories burned.

Calories Burned During Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings have an impressive capacity to burn calories, as well as building muscle.

One might burn between 15 and 21 calories per minute swinging a kettlebell — this intensity adds up to a staggering 900 to 1,260 calories in just an hour.

That’s a level of calorie-torching power that eclipses many traditional exercise methods.

To paint a clearer picture, let’s look at how the weight of your chosen kettlebell could amplify your calorie-burning endeavor.

Kettlebell Weight Potential Calories Burned per Minute

Kettlebell WeightPotential Calories Burned per Minute
10 lbs (4.5 kg)10-15 calories
20 lbs (9 kg)15-20 calories
35 lbs (16 kg)20-25 calories
50 lbs (22.5 kg)25-30 calories

These figures are ballpark estimates… personal results will naturally vary (as we’ll discuss below).

But, as a general guideline… as your kettlebell gets heavier, the energy you exert increases, igniting an even fiercer calorie burn (assuming you can maintain the same number of repetitions and total duration).

Maintain Good Form Above Everything

Don’t get so focused on trying to burn more calories that you select a kettlebell that is too heavy for you. If you can’t maintain good form for every repetition, use a lighter kettlebell.

A Brief Lesson in Biomechanics

Peeling back the biomechanics of the kettlebell swing reveals the secrets of its calorie-burning prowess. The exercise hinges on a movement pattern that flexes major muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, and core.

Simultaneously, your cardiovascular system is thrown into the mix.

This full-body engagement revs up energy expenditure, leading to a higher rate of calories burned.

When squared off against other activities like jogging or traditional weightlifting, the humble kettlebell swing stands tall.

A moderate-pace jog might see you burn around 7-10 calories per minute, while a weightlifting session could chalk up 8-10 calories in the same timeframe.

By contrast, with kettlebell swings you’re potentially looking at an average burn rate of around 18 calories per minute — a clear, and compelling, difference.

Kettlebell Workouts

Kettlebells are surprisingly diverse and you can do much more than just swing them. With a single kettlebell you can really target every muscle in your body. From suitcase carries to single leg RDLs, and everything in between, kettlebells have you covered.

Factors Impacting How Many Calories You Burn

When it comes to kettlebell swings, several elements tweak the dial on the calorie-burning furnace.

Here’s a quick rundown of the primary players.


Intensity serves as a major calorie-burn influencer.

It goes without saying, if you’re doing more kettlebell swings within a minute, you’ll burn more calories.

But, balance is key… don’t push so hard that form falters or safety is compromised.

Kettlebell Weight

As we’ve already discussed weight is another factor. A heavier kettlebell demands more energy, leading to an amplified calorie burn.

The weight must match your fitness level. An overly ambitious weight choice could potentially result in injury. A CPT can help guide you in the right direction.


Genetics also play an important role when it comes burning calories… think metabolism and muscle composition.

Some of us are blessed with speedy metabolisms or a generous muscle mass, both of which can rev up calorie burn.

Don’t despair if you’re not naturally gifted with such generic characteristics… consistent, hard work can still yield significant results.


Lastly, the length of your workout matters. More time swinging the kettlebell equates to more calories burned.

It’s a delicate balance between intensity and duration. Strive to strike the right balance for your fitness level and goals.

Working Out Calories Burned

If you’re combining kettlebell swings or general strength training with yoga, we also have a guide on how many calories yoga burns too.

Muscles Worked

Kettlebell swings are a master of multi-tasking, engaging several major muscle groups in one fell swoop.

The stars of the show are your glutes and hamstrings, but your core, back, and shoulders also join the party.

This whole-body exercise means you’re not just honing one set of muscles, but enhancing your overall strength and muscle coordination.

It’s this broad muscular engagement that ramps up the calorie burn and transforms kettlebell swings into a time-efficient, full-body conditioning tool.

By stimulating so many muscles simultaneously, you’re maximizing your workout and making every swing count.

5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Adding Kettlebell Swings to Your Workout

Effective at Building Muscle

The unique combination of strength and cardio offered by kettlebell swings triggers muscular and cardiovascular gains.

As a high-intensity, compound movement, it spurs muscle growth across multiple areas of your body, making it an efficient muscle-building tool.

Full Body Workouts

Kettlebell swings recruit several major muscle groups. From your glutes and hamstrings to your core and back, this exercise delivers a full-body workout in a single, dynamic movement.

It’s a time-saver that won’t skimp on results, ramping up overall body strength.

Great for Home Use

Compact and portable, kettlebells ask for little space, making them an excellent choice for home workouts.

You can harness the power of a high-calorie burning, muscle-building workout without stepping foot in a gym, perfect for those looking to maintain fitness within the comfort of their own four walls.

Improve Grip Strength

Kettlebell swings work wonders for your grip strength too.

It’s an often overlooked but vital aspect of overall fitness, aiding in everyday tasks and other physical activities.

This means you don’t need to worry about specialist grip and forearm exercise tools.

Functional Movement Pattern

Kettlebell swings mimic functional movement patterns, mirroring actions like lifting and reaching. Regular training improves your body’s efficiency in performing these everyday tasks, enhances your flexibility and balance, and reduces the risk of injury.

Learn More About Functional Training

Check out our guide on functional training to discover if this style of exercise best suits your goals and preferences.

Bottom Line

Kettlebell swings stand out as a dynamic, multifaceted exercise that fires up multiple muscle groups, torching a substantial number of calories in the process.

Factors like intensity, weight, genetics, and duration can tweak the calorie burn rate.

Whether you’re looking to rev up your calorie burn, build muscle, or enhance functional movement, kettlebell swings could be a powerful ally on your fitness journey.

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