Video: How to do a Kettlebell Swing with a Heavy Bucket

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Videos

If you’ve been around exercising in the last ten years, you’ve probably encountered kettlebells.  One of my friends, Josh Hanagarne, is a k-bell instructor and showed me a few things about them once upon a time.  I can tell you that k-bell training is tough stuff.  Downside: like any manufactured exercise implement, k-bells are expensive.  They can set you back over a C-note for just one.  That isn’t a knock on kettlebells, it’s just a fact.  Heavy things made of iron aren’t cheap.  I can’t see any way you’d ruin a good quality k-bell, though, short of detonating a nuclear weapon next to it.

The most basic k-bell exercise is the “swing”.  Using predominantly your hip drive, you swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height and then guide it back down between your legs with some lat interaction.  And again.  And again.  This exercise is a big element of the “magic” of k-bells, from what I’ve been told–an exercise that increases work capacity as well as lifting prowess on all manner of other lifts.  It’s one of the few moves that hits the body directly in the core power centers of the hips, glutes, and hamstrings.  And it isn’t very easy to do with anything but a k-bell.

Well, there’s some good news: you can do swings with heavy buckets.  A bucket is cheap, strong, and easily available.  Different sizes will work for different height ranges.  I’m reasonably tall, and find the big 5 gallon buckets to be serviceable, provided that I’m careful.  Load can be anything from a few pounds all the way up to, let’s say, 60 or so, just with sand.  With a heavier substrate, I’m sure you could go higher, though I can’t vouch for weights above 50 in regard to how long the bucket will withstand the beating.

It should be noted that buckets have a different leverage pattern from the much more centralized mass of a k-bell, and thus will feel a bit different.  That said, the movement is still a good one, and can be done as part of our caveman gym hijinx.  Here’s a video demonstrating the swing:

Heavy Bucket K-Swings:


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