MMA Kettlebell Workout Uses Just 3 Variations of the Swing
When I saw that popular fitness coach Funk Roberts posted another kettlebell workout video on YouTube, I was eager to break it down. After all, his last kettlebell workout is one of the most well-received that I’ve detailed on Kettlebell Krusher. Imagine my surprise when I learned that it was, in fact, not Funk who produced this workout. Rather, another coach using Funk’s channel to gain more exposure.
There’s nothing wrong with this as many bloggers (myself included) allow authors to promote their brand via a guest post. Instead of using text as a medium, video is used to convey their message. Funk’s worked hard to earn the following he’s built. So, I trust that the content he allows isn’t just to make a quick buck. After watching the 9-minute video instructed by MMA strength coach Phil Daru, those beliefs were justified.
Phil is quickly becoming the go-to trainer for MMA and UFC fighters. He’s worked with many notable fighters both male and female across various weight divisions. On his website, you can see photos of those he’s trained including several very recognizable names. He’s the real deal and has the results to back it up.
What’s really impressive with this workout is that no experience is required with kettlebells should you wish to try it. He incorporates 3 different styles of a kettlebell swing which are easy to learn. No intricate moves or complexes are performed. This workout is about power and strength. Watch it below.
Breaking Down This MMA Kettlebell Workout
After a brief introduction and shout out to Funk, Phil details the workout on the whiteboard including warming up. The 3 different kettlebell swings are the standard two-handed Russian swing, alternating one-handed swing, and two-handed rotational swing. Since building strength and endurance are the goals, the duration and rep counts are low. I don’t recall a recommended weight suggested, however, it should be challenging or heavy for you. Obviously, someone training in flyweight vs. heavyweight would choose accordingly.
Each swing movement follows an EMOM (every minute on the minute) format of 10 swings per minute. After that first minute the next movement is performed and after that the last movement. That makes this workout a brisk 12 minutes with 4 sets for each movement.
During the recovery portion of the minute, Phil suggests doing some shadow boxing. This helps to keep the heart rate elevated and blood flowing. I’m sure you could substitute with jump ropes or jumping jacks. Although, since this workout is tailored for fighters, shadow boxing makes perfect sense.
By far my favorite kettlebell exercise, the two-handed swing has a few variations of its own. It looks like Phil is using the most popular style called the hip-hinge. It’s one that I haven’t mastered but eventually want to perform flawlessly. It’s easy to get too low when the bell passes through the legs which is more of the squat style. This video from Cavemantraining shows the two side-by-side in slow-motion.
Notice the explosiveness in Phil’s hips as he swings the kettlebell upward. This is not an arm exercise and the power generation comes from the hips. All the major muscles are worked for a full-body workout. It may look easy but using a heavy kettlebell you’ll definitely be feeling it afterward!
One-Handed Alternating Swing
What I like about alternating one-handed swings is that you’re still engaging multiple muscle groups. The benefit is that your free arm gets a brief rest which really helps with endurance. That extra second really makes a difference for recovery. Sure, this workout only has you doing 5 reps per arm but you could easily go for much longer.
One thing to watch is how smoothly the hand-to-hand transfer is done. It’s tempting to favor one side of the handle to allow room for your other hand to grab it on the upswing. If you look closely, you’ll see Phil keeps his grip right in the middle. The free arm and hand are immediately motioning towards the kettlebell on the upswing. That brief moment of floating is when you want to complete the transfer.
Two-Handed Rotational Swing
The most advanced of the movements thus far, the rotational swing resembles a pendulum swinging back and forth. It’s important to note that this is NOT a pendulum swing as that is yet another variation of the standard Russian swing. As Phil suggests, make sure you have the rotational part down before attempting. He also says it’s okay to move down to a lighter kettlebell.
Keep an eye on Phil’s body from his torso to his legs. Watch how the far leg snaps when the kettlebell is swung to the other side. The video states that 5 reps are performed per side. I found this a little confusing as I counted a total of 18 swings for round one and 12 for round two. If I’m reading it correctly, there should only be 10 total swings. Not a big deal as anything additional could be considered a bonus.
Final Thoughts on this MMA Kettlebell Workout
The rest of the video just shows condensed portions of rounds 2 and 3. One final message from Phil is his emphasis on managing fatigue and not overtraining. I really appreciate how brief this workout is at only 12 minutes. Including warm-ups and cooling down you won’t spend more than 20 minutes in total.
Although designed for MMA fighters, this is a great general strength and endurance workout that anyone can utilize. Not only that but you’ll also improve cardio since there is no absolute rest period. This is a workout not just for doing in a gym, but also in the comfort of your home. If you don’t own a kettlebell yet, there are some very affordable sets available online. I think that’s the best way to go rather than buying individually since you’ll save a little bit more and likely progress to a heavier kettlebell within a month or two.