Why Are My Abs Sore After Kettlebell Swings? 12 Crucial Tips To Cure Issue
The kettlebell is a great piece of equipment, which can help you increase your endurance and strength in a variety of ways.
However, It’s not uncommon to experience some soreness in your abs after a kettlebell workout.
Especially if you are new to using them, but why does this happen?
There are a few possible explanations.
Why Are My Abs Sore After Kettlebell Swings?
The kettlebell swing is a powerful movement that engages your entire core. This can lead to strains and tears in the muscles, which can cause soreness. Another explanation is that the kettlebell swing puts a lot of stress on your joints and connective tissue, which can lead to inflammation. You may be simply not used to the kettlebell swing, as your body adjusts to the new movement. Other reasons to consider are – what type of swings are you doing (two-hand, single-hand or American), do you need to reduce your volume of training, is the kettlebell too heavy and finally, are you too tense when performing the exercise?
There could be one or a few reasons why your abs are sore after kettlebell swings, let’s see why this might be.
Tension and rigidity in movement
If you are new to kettlebells and kettlebell swings, you will more than likely be a little rigid with the movement, which also means you will be too tense.
This can cause a lot of strain on your abs and the muscles around your spine, which can lead to pain and soreness.
The fix – is simply relaxing and trying to flow with the movement, rather than forcing it. Remember to breathe as you swing and you will find the movement gets easier and puts less strain on your abs.
As a lot is going on with regards to the kettlebell swing, you are using muscles you may not have used before, and it can be easy to get a little tense.
So, just try to relax and let your body flow with the movement.
You may also need to loosen your grip slightly, as a death-grip on the kettlebell will only increase the tension in your body.
This once again is a common and natural thing to do when initially swinging a kettlebell, as it is moving away from you as it swings.
This means you need to retain a certain amount of grip to stop it from flying out of your hand and causing damage to you or your surroundings.
Once you get more used to the movement, you should be in a position to relax more which means there shouldn’t be as much tension when swinging.
If the kettlebell you are using is too heavy, this can also lead to abs soreness after swings.
This is because your body is not used to the weight and will be trying to compensate by using different muscles.
Your abs are going to be one of the main muscle groups trying to help out, as they are located centrally and act as a stabiliser for your spine.
If you aren’t getting adequate thrust in your hips and glute muscles, your abs might be working that little bit harder to raise the kettlebell to its highest point.
If you are new to kettlebells, it is advisable to start with a lighter weight until you are confident with the movement and your form is good.
You can then increase the weight as your strength and confidence grow.
Performing too many repetitions
When first starting out, it is common to want to try and do too many reps of any given exercise.
This not only puts your body under more stress than necessary, but it can also lead to bad form and technique.
Both of these increase the chances of you picking up an injury or causing pain and soreness in your abs after kettlebell swings.
It is advisable to start with a lower number of reps, such as 10-15, and focus on perfecting your form.
As you get used to the movement and your confidence grows, you can then increase the number of reps and volume of training.
Type of kettlebell swing
There are several types of kettlebell swings that you can do, two-handed, one-handed and American variations.
The two-handed swing is the most common and is performed with both hands on the kettlebell handle.
The one-handed swing is performed with just one hand and is a little more challenging, as you need to stabilise the kettlebell with just one arm as it swings.
This means the abs are working harder to stabilise the torso during the movement, which can lead to soreness in the abdominal region.
The American swing is a more advanced version of the two-handed swing and is performed by holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of you.
The difference with this exercise is that the kettlebell is swung above your head and then back down between your legs. Once again your abdominal muscles will have to work even harder to elevate the kettlebell overhead.
As you can imagine, each swing puts different levels of stress on your abs and muscles, so it is important to choose the right one for you.
If you are new to kettlebells, it is advisable to start with the two-handed swing, as this will be the easiest to learn and master.
As you get more experienced, you can then move on to the one-handed and American swings.
If you are using bad form when performing kettlebell swings, this can also lead to abs soreness.
This is because you will be putting unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints, which can lead to inflammation.
It is important to ensure that your form is good when swinging a kettlebell, as this will not only reduce the chances of pain and injury but will also ensure that you are getting the most out of the exercise.
Some common form issues that can lead to abs soreness include rounding your back, swinging the kettlebell too high and not using your hips properly.
It is advisable to get a qualified coach or personal trainer to check your form before you start swinging a kettlebell, as they will be able to identify any issues.
They will also be able to give you tips on how to correct your form so that you can avoid abs soreness in the future.
Kettlebell swings are a great exercise for toning your abs and core muscles, but it is important to ensure that you are using good form.
If you are experienced, make sure that you are using the right type of swing for your abilities and focus on maintaining good form throughout the movement.
Doing something new
If you are new to kettlebell swings, it is understandable that your abs might be sore after doing them.
This is because your body is not used to the movement and is adjusting to the new stress that is being placed on it.
It is important to give your body time to adjust to the new exercise, as this will help to avoid any pain or soreness.
The central nervous system, which sends signals to the muscles, also needs to adapt to the new movement.
This can take a few weeks, so it is important to be patient and not try to do too much too soon, while your body initially gets used to exercising with kettlebells.
Increased muscle activation
Another reason why your abs might be sore after doing kettlebell swings is that they are working harder than usual.
This is because the movement recruits more muscles than other exercises, such as bicep curls or tricep extensions.
In fact, a study found that the kettlebell swing activates nine times more muscles than traditional weightlifting exercises.
This means that your abs and other muscles are working harder than they are used to, which can lead to soreness.
As quite a few kettlebell exercises are compound movements, they engage more muscles than isolation exercises.
This is why they are so effective at building muscle and burning fat, as they help you to work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
DOMS is a common occurrence after doing any kind of demanding exercise.
This is because you are using muscles that you don’t normally use and they need time to recover.
DOMS usually starts 24-48 hours after your workout and can last up to a week.
There are a few things you can do to help reduce the effects of DOMS, such as foam rolling, stretching, and taking an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).
You should also make sure you’re getting enough protein and carbohydrates to help your muscles recover.
There’s no denying there’s a good chance you will be walking like a baby giraffe for the days that follow, so make sure you do all you can to prevent DOMS.
Pulled or tweaked muscle and training too soon
If you feel a sharp pain during your kettlebell swing, then you may have pulled or tweaked a muscle.
It is important to stop immediately and rest the muscle.
You should also apply ice to the area for 20 minutes every few hours and take an NSAID if you can.
If the pain persists, then you should see a doctor.
You may also be sore after your kettlebell swings because you are training too soon after an injury.
Even if you are feeling better, it is important to give your body time to recover properly before returning to exercise.
If you do not, then you risk re-injuring the muscle or exacerbating the original injury.
Eating Too Close to Your Workout
You may also experience abs soreness after your kettlebell swings if you have eaten too close to your workout.
This is because food takes around four hours to properly digest and if you eat before exercise, then your body will be focused on digestion rather than working out.
This can lead to indigestion, bloating, and pain.
It is best to eat a meal four hours before exercise or have a light snack two hours before working out.
If you are hungry before your workout, then have a small snack such as an energy bar or a banana.
Abdominal wall hernia
This is a little extreme, but still worth mentioning.
If you are experiencing a lot of pain after your kettlebell swings and it is accompanied by a lump or bulge in your stomach, then you may have an abdominal wall hernia.
This is when a hole forms in the stomach muscles and intestines or fatty tissue protrudes through.
It is important to see a doctor if you think you may have a hernia as they can usually be easily repaired with surgery.
If you’re experiencing soreness after kettlebell swings, don’t worry. It’s normal and should subside after a few days.
If the soreness is severe or persists for more than a week, consult a doctor or physical therapist.
As kettlebell swings work over 600 muscles during the movement, it’s important in the meantime, to focus on getting enough protein and carbohydrates to help your muscles recover, foam rolling, and stretching.
It wasn’t mentioned above, but warming up and cooling down before and after training is crucial and will reduce the risk of pulling a muscle during your workouts.
Also, make sure you’re not training too soon after an injury and eating too close to your workout.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to swing without pain in no time!
Have your abs been sore when doing kettlebell swings? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.