I’m a big kettlebell fan, and the answer to all your questions is, yes.
Seek out some instruction, or at the very least videos, to get the form down. I recommend the RKC community or their new manifestation Strong First.
As to weight, it depends. You want enough weight that you are not flinging the bell around but not so much weight that you can’t keep going for a while. Most guys will start with somewhere between 35 and 53 pounds. Once you get the form down and develop some stamina you can go super heavy (see some of Contreras’ articles). Still, I’ve been swinging for a few years now and I pretty much always use the 53 and 70 pounders.
And how long? I’d pick a set number of minutes, maybe 5 or 8 or 10. Swing for a comfortable number of reps, and then rest for however many seconds it takes you to feel ready to swing again. If you are dying, rest a little longer. Just keep it up for your prescribed number of minutes.
Other fun games are to swing for x number of reps at the top of each minute. If you can get 10 solid swings in, do that for however many minutes you feel comfortable going. If that is too easy, up it to 15.
Or do 30 seconds of swinging and 30 seconds of resting.
After a while you can just keep swinging. Some guys do 1,000 reps in a row. I’ve never done it myself, but it is possible. There is really no limit to what you can do with swings.[/quote]
Hey, thanks. I am looking at using the swings as posture correction and cardio, but if done heavy, can they actually hypertrophy the glutes?
I’m not sure - I have my doubts because there is basically no eccentric component of the movement - but then again, most people drop their deadlifts so there is no eccentric component of deadlifts either, yet most swear by deadlifts as mass builders…?[/quote]
In general, no. When I stared with weights and swinging kettlebells I was a super skinny (and most on this side would still call me skinny) cyclist with under-developed glutes. Kettlebell swings and cleans did start to develop my glutes. But for anyone who is already lifting, and certainly anyone doing deadlifts, there will not be any appreciable glute mass gained.
As for the lack of eccentric movement, that is partially true. You aren’t lowering the weight like in so many other lifts, but the bell does swing down pretty fast, and you have to halt that momentum and then swing it back up. I don’t know the name for it, but it creates a lot of force and thus a lot of power. I don’t know the science behind it, but I’ve read it in many articles. Contreras talks about it some here: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/are_heavy_kettlebell_swings_better_than_deadlifts The article’s also got some good form instruction.
I forgot to mention posture in my first post. Working with kettlebells (and all weights, really) has helped my posture. I stand taller, more square, shoulders back, and the swings in particular have loosened and strengthened my hips and glues, so I walk better, too.