Can Kettlebell Swings Replace Deadlifts? (5 Reasons They Can)

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Last updated on July 3rd, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Do you want to know, “Can Kettlebell Swings Replace Deadlifts?”

You’re probably aware that these are two fantastic exercises.

Both focus on the hip-hinge movement pattern.

However, deadlifts typically involve lifting huge amounts of weight, whereas swings are more focused towards higher reps.

So, can one actually replace the other?

Can Kettlebell Swings Replace Deadlifts?

Kettlebell swings can replace deadlifts if your focus ISN’T to build absolute strength. The kettlebell swing is better for explosiveness, mobility, conditioning, endurance, and if you have a history of back pain. If these are your specific training goals then kettlebell swings can replace deadlifts.

1. Kettlebell Swings are Better for Aesthetics

A Topless Man Flexing His Muscles

There are many reasons why we train.

And our training goals will vary depending on a number of factors.

For some of you, training forms an integral part of your everyday life because you participate in a particular sport.

Then again, for others you may simply want to be fitter and healthier.

And of course, there are those of you who just want to look great with your clothes on or off, and be more attractive to the opposite sex.

Who am I to judge?

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

The deadlift is the best exercise there is for out-and-out absolute strength.

If you want to get stronger, then I recommend that you deadlift.

You can kettlebell swing all you want, but it’s almost impossible (I said “almost”) to get as strong as you would by deadlifting.

The reason I say “almost” is that you can actually make a kettlebell swing “heavier”.

This is achieved by dramatically increasing the acceleration of the downward part of the movement.

But, this change in technique is really only recommended if you are extremely proficient with the kettlebell swing.

Otherwise, a trip to the emergency room could be on the cards.

Anyway, back to the point.

If you simply want to look better, and create that “dream body” then kettlebells swings will be a better option.

Now don’t get wrong, deadlifts can produce one hell of a sexy and athletic looking body too.

But, I’ll have to say that kettlebell swings just edge this battle.

Benefits of the Kettlebell Swing

2. More Explosiveness and Power With Kettlebell Swings

Let me repeat once more – if absolute strength is your overall goal, deadlifts win hands-down.

However, not everyone wants to train purely for strength.

I will say that irrespective of your training goals, getting stronger is what you should aim for.

Whether you want to build muscle, burn body fat, lose weight, get rid of your belly, etc. Getting stronger can help you achieve this.

With that said, that’s not what this article is about, so I’ll save that lecture for another day.

I liken the kettlebell swing to the Olympic lifts more than I do the deadlift.

All of these exercises are hip-hinge movements.

But, there’s definitely more of a “snap” in the hips with swings and Olympic lifts than there is with the deadlift.

So, if you’re looking to build explosive power, then kettlebell swings can definitely replace deadlifts.

Perhaps, you’re a sprinter.

Or your chosen sport requires quick, sharp, short bouts of explosiveness.

This is definitely the case when on a football field, or a wrestling or martial arts mat, or a boxing or MMA ring.

I’m not saying that you don’t require strength in any of these disciplines, but explosive power will take you a long way.

3. Kettlebell Swings are Better For Mobility

A Woman Performing Kettlebell Swings

Now here’s something that I know only too well.

Mobility has always been an issue for me.

It’s something that I’ve focused on far more as I’ve got older, and to good effect.

Looking back at my younger training days, I was all about the “Big Lifts” and getting as strong and muscular as possible.

However, this typically led to injury, and I wasn’t exactly the most nimble of people.

Kettlebells swings definitely increase your overall mobility far better than deadlifts.

Well, in my mind anyway.

I guess this has a lot to do with the increased range of motion and additional volume.

Once again, I’m not saying that you can’t increase your mobility with deadlifts.

But, the deadlift is typically far more focused on lower reps and as heavy a weight as you can lift.

Without wishing to cause offence, this is also why you’ll see far more “older” people swinging a kettlebell than deadlifting a massive weight from the floor.

For many of us our mobility sucks, and this generally gets worse the older we get.

Unless of course you decide to do something about it.

This is what I’ve chosen to focus on the older I get.

I still deadlift regularly to this day, but I definitely do far more kettlebell swings.

The Kettlebell Swing – The Single Best Exercise Ever?

4. Kettlebell Swings Will Improve Your Conditioning

This ties in quite well with aesthetics.

In the vast majority of cases, the more conditioned we are, the better we tend to look.

I know from personal experience what a huge impact kettlebell swings have had on my conditioning.

RELATED====>Full Body Single Kettlebell Workout

I tend to go through periods of experimentation when it comes to certain exercises.

And the kettlebell swing is definitely one of these exercises.

I’ve completed Dan John’s 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Workout more times than I care to remember.

Plus, I’ve tried many other variations including, 200, 300, and 500 swings a day for 10,20, 30 days, etc.

Admittedly, these are just “challenges” and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone swings for these numbers on a permanent basis.

However, at the end of these challenges I definitely have a toned physique and my abs are plain for all to see.

Kettlebell swings performed in this challenge-type manner will literally strip your body fat away.

5. A History of Injuries May Be Better Suited to Kettlebell Swings

A Man Suffering With Neck and Lower Back Pain

Firstly, I think it’s important to say that I am someone who managed to herniate two discs in my lower spine in 2004.

I have built myself back up, changed the way I train, and I definitely have a different focus from my younger days.

With that being said, I still train the deadlift on a weekly basis.

However, the deadlift may not be for everyone.

I’m sure there are those of you who simply feel that deadlifts cause you more problems than anything else.

In fact, I have personally experienced bulging discs since my original injury.

Now, I’m not going to lay the blame firmly at the door of deadlifts here.


It probably had more to do with the “fear factor” whenever I did perform deadlifts after my injury.

And this typically led to poor form and execution.

So, the bulging discs were definitely my fault and not that of the deadlift.

But, if you are someone that struggles with the deadlift, or has this same “fear factor” that I did for a long time, then you may need to turn to swings.

I would even go as far to say that kettlebell swings done with perfect form can actually help improve back pain over time.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you immediately crank out 100 swings the day after you’ve injured your back.

However, the swing can be great for rehabilitation purposes.

The Kettlebell Swing – Perfect Form

In Defence of the Deadlift

Now, it may seem that I’m saying that the kettlebell swing is a better exercise than the deadlift.

I most definitely AM NOT.

I’ve mentioned a few times that if you’re in search of absolute strength, then the deadlift is a game-changer.

However, even if you are looking to improve aesthetics, explosive power, mobility, conditioning, or rehabilitating from injury, the deadlift can help in ALL of these areas.

With that being said, kettlebell swings will serve this purpose to greater effect.

I think one of the main reasons someone may ask, “Can Kettlebell Swings Replace Deadlifts?” is that they have issues with the deadlift.

This could be something as simple as not liking deadlifts.

Perhaps you feel drained after deadlifts.

RELATED====>Why Am I So Tired After Deadlifts?

Maybe, you just don’t “feel” deadlifts the way you’re supposed to.

RELATED====>Don’t Feel Deadlifts in Hamstrings

And it could just be that you find deadlifts too hard.

I mean, come on, deadlifts will generally be the heaviest weight you lift with a barbell.

So, they are definitely taxing on the body and the Central Nervous System.

However, something I’ve mentioned time-and-time again that may make you rethink deadlifts:

“The exercises that you hate doing the most are probably the ones you should be doing more of.”

10 Benefits of Deadlifting

Final Thoughts

So, when it comes down to whether kettlebell swings can replace deadlifts, I guess the answer is yes.

However, this does very much depend on what your overall training goals are.

You can now see that kettlebells swings will improve your performance in various areas.

But, the same could also be said for the deadlift over swings in other areas.

If kettlebells are your “thing”.

Or if you want to train more with kettlebells, then you may want to check out Forest Vance’s workout program.

Forest, former NFL player with the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chief, has created a 40-day kettlebell workout program.

The program is aimed at building muscle and burning body fat.

You can discover exactly what I thought about the program – The CORE Kettlebell Challenge Review.

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