I love kettlebell HIIT workouts. They allow me to get both my strength training and cardio done, in 10 minutes if that’s all the time I have.
One of my favorite ways to train HIIT with kettlebells is doing different types of intervals with an exercise called skier swings.
If you haven’t done them before, the movement fits the name perfectly. You hold two kettlebells at your side with your palms in toward your body. When you do a swing this way it looks like you’re skiing and using your poles to get moving.
Here are 4 reasons kettlebell skier swing HIIT workouts are so great
- They are really intense. I’m often at 85% of my max heart rate – the target for HIIT workouts – after the 2-3 sets. This helps me get results faster.
- More benefits than cardio. Since I’m using weights instead of a cardio machine they also help me get stronger and build muscle.
- You can do them almost anywhere. All you need are 1-2 kettlebells and enough room to do a swing.
- They’re a total body workout.
If you’re looking for a new kettlebell and/or HIIT workout there are 4 below that you’ll love. Each one has you doing skier swings a little bit differently than you’re used to doing.
I’ve also listed several tips in this post to make sure you get the most from these workouts along with a great video which shows how to do the exercise safely.
“You can think of Kettlebell HIIT like HIIT on steroids. You will be boosting your strength, cardio endurance, and metabolism, and you can even build muscle while burning fat thanks to the kettlebell’s weight providing the perfect metabolic effect. “SetforSet.com
Kettlebell Skier Swing HIIT Workouts For You
Below are 4 super intense, fat burning, cardio boosting, strength and muscle building workouts I’ve come up with that feature skier swings. You’ll see you can do them with 1 or 2 kettlebells in several ways for a great work out.
Skier swing 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off
This is the first HIIT workout I ever did using skier swings. I’m in pretty good shape and it got my heart rate going from the start. It had my legs burning and I was breathing like I’d been doing hill sprints with a weighted vest. In the heat. And that was after 1 minute.
That first workout lasted 5 minutes. The next day everything was sore. From my neck to my feet I felt it, especially in my abs and legs. It sure helped my cardio too. I did this workout 2-3 times a week, working up to a 30 minute workout. Going all out for 15 seconds with just 15 seconds of rest for up to 30 minutes also helped me outside the gym. My endurance at jiu jitsu and sports went way up, in just a month.
The effectiveness of this workout is supported by science too. A group of college soccer players did a 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off workout with kettlebell snatches – a very similar exercise – for 20 minutes. They did this 3 times a week. After just a month, thier endurance improved by 6%. This is a huge increase given how fit they already are from playing soccer.
Here’s how you do the workout.
- Set your timer for 15 second intervals. I like the smartWOD app. It’s free and can be customized for any type of HIIT workout.
- Start with 5-10 minutes of 15 second intervals. Adjust as needed for your fitness level.
- As soon as your clock starts, get to swinging. Do as many swings as you can in 15 seconds.
- Once the time is up, rest for 15 seconds.
- Try to stand up during the rest period. Hold the kettlebells at your side if you’d like to add an extra challenge. Doing these things will make the workout more intense.
- Repeat the 15 seconds of swings, 15 seconds of rest cycle for the remaining time.
As you become more fit, make this workout more challenging by going longer or using heavier kettlebells.
Alternating kettlebell skier swings HIIT workout
Here you’ll swing the kettlebells one at a time, keeping the other one by your side.
This adds a new challenge for you. Your core will work harder to keep your upper body from twisting when you swing the kettlebell up.
We’re going to change the work:rest periods of this workout up a little bit too. This time you’ll alternate between 30 seconds of swings and 60 seconds rest. The fitter you are, the longer your workout. Start with 10 minutes and go from there.
- Set your timer for 60 seconds of work and 30 seconds rest.
- Start the timer. Then do the swings as I’ve listed below.
- Hold the kettlebells at your side, palms in wrists your body.
- Push your hips back, slightly bend your knees.
- Swing the weight back as you bend over at your waist while keeping your back flat and eyes straight ahead.
- Use your legs and core to swing one weight up about chest high.
- Keep the other kettlebell at your side.
- Return the kettlebell you’ve swung up to your side.
- Repeat with the other kettlebell and continue to alternate swings until the time is up.
- Rest standing up and holding the kettlebells at your side if possible.
EMOM Skier Swings
This style of HIIT workout is a little different than the others. Here you’ll do 10 swings with as heavy a kettlebell as you can use with good technique.
Once you’ve done your 10 swings, rest for the remainder of the minute. As soon as the minute’s up do another set of swings.
Repeat this swing-rest pattern on the minute for 10-20 minutes. Every minute equals 1 set.
Here’s how it looks.
- Set your timer for 15 minutes.
- Start the timer and get to swinging.
- Do 10 skier swings as fast as you can with proper form.
- When your swings are done, rest for however long is left in the minute. I usually have around 40 seconds.
- Once the minute is up, do another set of swings.
- Repeat this cycle, doing a set at the beginning of each minute for the remaining time.
AMRAP (as many reps as possible) skiers swings workout
Here’s a HIIT workout that’s a little different. Instead of having set times to swing and rest you’ll only rest when you have to. The heavier kettlebells you use, the more breaks you need.
- Set your timer for 10 minutes.
- Perform as many skier swings as you can in this amount of time.
- Only rest when you can’t do another rep with good form. Choose a moderately heavy weight so you can do 10-12 reps a set.
- Only rest as long as necessary to catch your breath and recover your ability to do more swings.
- Record the number of swings you did in 10 minutes. Set a goal to do more next time.
While you should start with double skier swings, feel free to switch between them and alternating swings if you like. Your goal is to do as many swings as possible in the allotted time.
“You can do so many things with kettlebells: they can be pressed, swung, snatched, cradled, and rowed. This makes them excellent for any type of interval work or HIIT workouts that require minimal rest between exercises, since you don’t have to waste time changing equipment.”Yuri Elkhaim
Tips For Perfect Kettlebell Skier Swings
- Hold the kettlebells so your palms face in toward your body, as if you’re holding ski poles.
- Don’t let your knees cave in when you do the swing. Keep them pointed straight ahead.
- The kettlebells shouldn’t twist to the sides when you swing them. Make sure they move in a clean arc back and forth.
- Keep your abs and other core muscles tight and back flat as you swing the kettlebells.
- Make sure your head stays in a neutral position by looking straight ahead throughout the swing. Don’t look up or down.
Skier swing video demonstration
Here’s Gareth Sapstead demonstrating excellent form. Notice how he keeps his head neutral, back flat, and how his knees don’t cave in during the swing.
Skier Swings – Frequently Asked Questions
What Do You Need To Do Skier Swing HIIT workouts?
The only things you need to do this workout are: a stopwatch to track your time, 1 or 2 kettlebells, and the small amount of room required to do swings. You can do them pretty much anywhere. I’ve done these workouts in a 400 square foot apartment, hotel balconies, the gym, and outside at the beach.
How Often Should You Do This Skier Swing HIIT?
As I write in this article you can make gains doing just 1 HIIT workout a week. If you want to reach your goals as quickly as possible doing these workouts 3 times a week is best.
When Should You Do Kettlebell Skier Swing HIIT?
You can do these workouts at 3 different times: as a standalone workout and either before or after you lift weights or do cardio. As long as you push yourself, you’ll see great results doing them at any of these times.
Who Is This Workout For?
You can easily make these workouts easier or more difficult by changing up the exercise:rest ratios and using heavier or lighter kettlebells.
How to make these workouts easier
- Rest longer than you exercise, i.e. swing for 15 seconds and rest for 30-90 seconds.
- Use lighter weights.
- Cut back on the number of sets you do.
How to make skier swing HIIT more intense
- The first is to decrease your rest period by ½. So, if you’re normally resting for 60 seconds, cut back to 30.
- The other thing you can do is increase the time you’re exercising during each set. Start with an additional 15 seconds and work your way up so that you’re exercising 2-3 times as long as you rest. Don’t go above 60-90 seconds to keep the intensity of the workout high.
- Add more sets to the workouts. Start with 2-3 and go up from there. There is an upper limit. I think going beyond 20-30 minutes takes away from the workout’s intensity and makes them less HIIT and more like regular old cardio.
- Use heavier kettlebells. Just make sure your technique is still good.
Kettlebell skier swing HIIT workouts are a low cost, high intensity way to improve your cardio, lose fat, and get stronger at the same time. Once you’ve mastered these workouts use them to create your own. The sky’s the limit when as to what’s possible.
If you come up with a good workout of your own, send it to me and I’ll add it to this article, giving you credit of course.
Callahan MJ, Parr EB, Snijders T, Conceição MS, Radford BE, Timmins RG, Devlin BL, Hawley JA, Camera DM. Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Responses to Different Types of Short-Term Exercise Training and Detraining in Middle-Age Men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Oct 1;53(10):2023-2036.
Falatic JA, Plato PA, Holder C, Finch D, Han K, Cisar CJ. Effects of Kettlebell Training on Aerobic Capacity. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Jul;29(7):1943-7.