This question is phrased in a strange way, but I could not think of a more concrete way to phrase is. I am trying to understand how different types of training fit into my own fitness goals. I am in my late 40s and am an advanced beginner in terms of weightlifting.

My own fitness goals are to maintain some muscle tone and to also help manage some lower back pain--since I sit a lot of work. I also do a lot of hiking, so slow endurance.

I am trying to understand the training effect of doing something like a kettlebell swing or a sandbag clean, versus something like a Romanian deadlift. I have have certainly done all of these exercises many times. But in terms of my own experience I find that I can actually "feel" the effect of an RDL on my lower back and hamstrings. I can feel like the muscles are working, even though the exercise involve multiple muscles.

With something like a kettlebell swing or sandbag training, these are more whole body exercises. But even with something like a kettlebell swing, I can't seem to feel the training effect. I certainly feel fatigue after doing a lot of swings with a heavy kettlebell. But the feeling of fatigue is a bit more generalized, so I am not sure what the training benefit is? I don't do the heavy deadlifts or squats like I used to--where I could see the numbers go up week after week.

Now don't get me wrong, I like kettlebells and sandbags. I actually find that doing kettlebell swings helps with my lower back pain, as does doing RDLs and hyperextensions, and stretching. I just want to make sure that I am programming these full body exercises correctly.

For example, does it make sense to do kettlebell swings as a first exercise, and then do like a leg extension for quads--to get a pull then push contrast. Or to warm up with kettlebell push presses and then do RDLs(a pull). Or I could even do a push press to a kettlebell swing, though that would probably take a lot of energy.

I guess I find the kind of diffuse fatigue a little confusing and am not sure how to program that. If I am say doing a chest press, I can feel the muscles fatigue to the point where they I am starting to break form. With the full body movements, I feel a more neurological fatigue or generalized fatigue.

1 Answer 1


Kettlebell swings and sandbag stuff are more "strengthy cardio" than a pure strength exercise like heavy low-rep squats or the "strengthy loaded stretch" of RDLs. The training benefits are more varied and spread out: cardio, strength-endurance, explosiveness, strength. In my opinion swings belong near the end of the workout, even as a finisher.

Numbers should go up when training kettlebell swings over time. It's not the steady drumbeat of adding a couple kilos each week, but rather reaching a series of plateaus across multiple dimensions: you should feel ready for a heavier bell eventually, but also be able to do more swings in less time, more swings per set, more total sets in a workout, shorter rest between sets.

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