Challenge Your Workout Buddy to a Competitive Kettlebell Swing-Off


preview for Challenge Your Workout Partner to a 5-Minute Kettlebell Swing-Off | 5 Minutes of Hell | Men’s Health Muscle

TRAINING ALL ALONE gets boring. Working out with a partner can help make your time in the gym more enjoyable, while also giving you someone else to watch your form and keep you accountable. You can also add an element of competition to raise the stakes when you train with a friend, which is exactly the point of this quick kettlebell finisher.

The routine, designed by Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is a back-and-forth contest that puts pride (and punishment) on the line. The setup is simple: Each partner alternates rounds of kettlebell swings for a five minute period. The order of the workout—and the demands of proper kettlebell swing form—is what makes the workout interesting.

Whichever partner loses faces a punishment. You might bet five bucks, lunch, or in the video example, burpees. Either way, the quick routine makes a collaborative routine a competitive one, offering up bragging rights to whomever emerges the victor.

The Kettlebell Swing-Off Competition Workout

Set a timer for five minutes. Make sure each partner has a kettlebell (you can decide if they should be equal weight, or if one partner should use a heavier or lighter bell). Once the clock begins, the first partner performs five kettlebell swings. As soon as they return the weight to the floor, the other partner immediately performs six swings. Continue alternating back and forth, adding a single rep each time. When the time elapses, the partner still performing swings is the loser.

a person lifting weights

Men’s Health

Even though time is a major factor in the game, each partner should focus on performing the swings with perfect form for every rep. Here’s a refresher on the cues you’ll need to follow:

How to Do the Kettlebell Swing

How to Do It:

  • Start standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with the kettlebell on the ground in front of you.
  • Push you butt back, then lean over to grip the bell’s handle. Hold on tightly.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades, then shift your arms to turn the pits of your elbows outward. Squeeze your abs to create tension. Keep your eyes on the floor to maintain a neutral spine.
  • “Hike” the weight back between your legs, keeping your knees slightly bent. Keep your arms straight.
  • Stand straight up, locking your knees, and aggressively squeeze your glutes to perform the swing. Keep your arms loose, like ropes connecting yourself to the kettlebell. Don’t aim for a certain point; allow the momentum to determine how high the bell goes.
  • Allow the weight to fall back down, back through your legs.

While competing, make sure to maintain proper form, even when the clock starts counting down. “Every swing is supposed to as fast and as powerful as possible,” Samuel says. You might not be able to swing faster to win the game, but you will get a great posterior chain workout while having fun with your friend.

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