Kettlebell Swings vs Hip Thrusts (Is One Better?)


Kettlebell Swings vs Hip Thrusts

Kettlebell Swings and Hip Thrusts are two exercises that are often used to build strength and improve athletic performance. Both exercises target the muscles in the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, but they differ in the way they are performed and the specific muscles they target.

Kettlebell Swings involve swinging a kettlebell between the legs and then thrusting it forward, while Hip Thrusts involve lying on the ground with the feet planted on the ground and lifting the hips against resistance.

In this article, I will compare Kettlebell Swings and Hip Thrusts. I’ll go over, in detail, how to do each exercise and then discuss which exercise is better depending on an individual’s goals.

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Kettlebell Swings


Kettlebell Swing

Equipment Needed

  • Kettlebell (you can also use a dumbbell by grabbing the end of it)

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Approach the kettlebell with a stance slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Take a deep breath, slightly bend the knees, hinge at the waist, and squeeze the kettlebell with both hands.
  • Maintain a neutral spine, eyes focused on something just in front of you.
  • Initiate the movement by pulling the dumbbell off the ground and into the “power position”.
  • The power position is where the hips are flexed (loaded), knees are slightly bent, and you are now going to drive the kettlebell forward.
  • Extend the hips and knees, driving the kettlebell forward.
  • The kettlebell will drift from the hip extension to about shoulder height but should not go any higher.
  • Gravity will bring the kettlebell back down.
  • Actively “pull” the kettlebell back to the power position. You should never feel loose or out of control as you swing.
  • As you pull the kettlebell and prepare for the next rep, remember to keep a tight abdomen and upper back.
  • This movement is fast and works on rapid force development via hip and knee extension.

Coaching Points

The Kettlebell Swing is a great movement to train rapid hip extension and flexion. Remember to always keep a neutral spine (DO NOT ROUND YOUR BACK).

Choosing the proper kettlebell weight is important. Heavier is not always better. Because of the rapid nature of the kettlebell swing, the emphasis should be on velocity, speed, and power.

I would recommend starting light and you will be able to increase weight easily as you get more comfortable with the movement.

I highly recommend novice lifters start with the Kettlebell Swing before moving to more complicated movements such as cleans or snatches.

Related –> 10 of my favorite Kettlebell Swing Alternatives for Explosive Hip Power


Hip Thrusts


Hip Thrusts

Equipment Needed

  • Bench Press (or another stable object like a plyo box)
  • Barbell or Dumbbell

How To

  • Start by sitting on the ground with your feet flat on the floor and your upper back resting on a bench or other stable surface.
  • Hold a weight, such as a barbell or a dumbbell, across your hips.
  • Engage your core and glute muscles, and push through your heels to lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Coaching Points

If holding a barbell across your hips is uncomfortable, try using a folded-up yoga mat, towel or an Airex Pad. These are all viable options to use as padding to make Hip Thrusts more comfortable.

Kettlebell Swings vs Hip Thrusts: Which is Better?

Now let’s take a look at the two exercises and compare them depending upon what your goals are.

Better For Strength Development: Draw

It is difficult to say whether Kettlebell Swings or Hip Thrusts are better for strength development, as both exercises can be effective for building strength in the muscles of the posterior chain.

Kettlebell Swings primarily target the muscles of the hips and lower back, while Hip Thrusts focus more on the glutes and hamstrings. Both exercises can be effective for increasing strength and improving athletic performance, but the specific benefits and muscle activation may vary depending on the individual.

Ultimately, the best exercise for strength development will depend on your specific fitness goals and the muscles you want to target. It may be helpful to incorporate both Kettlebell Swings and Hip Thrusts into your workouts to achieve a well-rounded strength training program.

Better For Beginners: Hip Thrusts

Hip Thrusts may be a better option for beginners compared to Kettlebell Swings (but it’s close). This is because hip thrusts are a relatively simple exercise that can be performed with minimal equipment, whereas kettlebell swings require a certain level of skill and coordination.

Additionally, Hip Thrusts can be performed with a variety of different resistance levels, allowing beginners to start with a lower weight (or no weight if necessary) and gradually increase the challenge as they get stronger.

Kettlebell Swings, on the other hand, might be more difficult for beginners to learn and perform correctly, which could lead to poor form and a higher risk of injury. It is always important for beginners to start with exercises that are appropriate for their fitness level and to focus on proper technique.

Final Thoughts

I’ve just spent an entire article comparing which is better – Kettlebell Swings or Hip Thrusts. However, the truth is, there is no reason you shouldn’t have both exercises in your strength training program.

Both are excellent exercises for developing strong and powerful hip extension. Both exercises actually complement each other very well, with Hip Thrusts being a bit more of a strength movement and Kettlebell Swings focusing more on power.

So, my suggestion would be instead of trying to decide between the two exercises, figure out how you can utilize both Kettlebell Swings and Hip Thrusts in your training plan.

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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