Force profile of the two-handed hardstyle kettlebell swing in novice older adults: an exploratory profile

Neil Meigh*, Wayne A Hing, Ben Schram, Justin W L Keogh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contributionDiscipline Preprint RepositoryResearch


Understanding the force profile of an exercise increases clinical confidence when assessing the benefits and potential risks of a prescribed exercise. This exploratory study presents the force profile of the hardstyle kettlebell swing in novice older adults and compares peak force with kettlebell deadlifts. These data will help inform healthcare providers and coaches who are considering prescribing kettlebell exercises for older adults.

Thirty-five community-dwelling males and females (59-79 years) were recruited, from applicants to participate in the BELL trial. Two-handed hardstyle swings were performed with 8-16 kg. Deadlifts were performed with 8-24 kg and 8-32 kg for females and males, respectively. Ground reaction force was obtained from a floor-mounted force platform. Pairwise comparisons of peak force, forward force, rate of force development, swing cadence, sex, and kettlebell mass, were investigated for the kettlebell swing, with representative force-time curves described. Pairwise comparisons of peak force, sex and kettlebell mass were investigated for the deadlift, with comparisons of peak force, kettlebell mass, and sex, between swings and deadlifts.

For kettlebells up to 16 kg, paired samples T-tests show a large exercise effect (δ > 1.4) with peak force higher for swings than deadlifts. Data shows: (i) higher peak force during swings than deadlifts (δ = 1.77), reaching 4.5 (1.0), (ii) peak force during an 8 kg swing was greater than a 32kg deadlift, (iii) negligible difference in normalised peak force between males and females performing kettlebell swings, but a moderately large effect size during deadlifts (males > females, δ = 0.69), (iv) mean rate of force development of 19.9 (4.7) with a very weak, positive correlation with kettlebell mass (y = 14.4 + 0.32x), and trivial effect of sex, (v) mean forward force equal to 5.5% of vertical force during swings, increasing from 3.8 (1.6) % with 8 kg to 7.1 (2.6) % with 16 kg.

During kettlebell swings, there is negligible difference in normalised net peak force between novice males and females using the same absolute loads. Where ground reaction force is a therapeutic target, kettlebell swings with an 8 kg kettlebell could have similar effects to much heavier deadlifts (>24 kg). Kettlebell swings performed with lighter loads, could provider similar therapeutic value to much heavier deadlifts, and may be a more appealing, affordable, and convenient option for older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusSubmitted - 1 Nov 2021

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