The Kettlebell Swing
And so It begins!
The swing could well be the king of the kettlebell exercises. It is usually the first pattern taught to new lifters after squat and deadlift show no problems and people can move correctly with loading at the hips.
The Kettlebell Swing is the foundation for most of the kettlebell workouts. It works your legs, shoulders, core, back, glutes, and activates the strongest joint in your body – the hip.
This basic movement can help you build muscle, torch calories, establish a strong base and foundation, improve your posture, strengthen your core, and increase your power output.
Whether you’re an average office worker trying to slim down or an elite athlete looking to add something new to your routine, this incredible exercise can help you.
WHY THIS EXERCISE IS SO GOOD
It helps burn a ton of calories & fat
It's perfect for normal, busy people
It strengthens all your muscles & joints
It fixes your back, core & shoulders
It's a blend of cardio & strength training
HOW TO KETTLEBELL SWING THE RIGHT WAY
Now that you know the huge benefits of the kettlebell swing and have selected the correct starting weight lets get started.
You need to start with a basic movement skill called the hip hinge, you should have done this in module one but here's a reminder:
1. Master the Hip Hinge
There are various different types of kettlebell swing (more on these later) but to begin with it is important that you master the basic hip hinge movement.
The hip hinge is based on one of our fundamental movement patterns and involves bending or creasing at the hips.
Watch the tutorial video below which explains the importance of the hip hinge:
Once you are familiar with the hip hinge then you can move on to the kettlebell swing.
One of the most common causes of bad kettlebell swing form is the hip hinge so don’t be too hasty.
Exercise Information: The best advice here is to feel it in the hamstrings. Try this first.....Stand with your back to a wall, take a short step forwards, then sit back and hit the wall with your bum – obviously without the kettlebell!
This pattern ensures you load the hamstrings, flex at the hips and use the posterior chain (entire back of body) to accelerate the kettlebell rather than a squat pattern.
Kettlebell (weight should be appropriate to ability and experience)
Before You Start
Ensure your training area is ‘safe’
Perform the dynamic warm up provided
Start position/ Set up
Feet shoulder width apart, neutral spine
Squat down, hinge at the hips.
Place two hands on the kettlebell handle, stand and hold kettlebell in front of hips
How to execute the exercise
Drive/Push hips backwards, Kettlebell between thighs
Drive feet into the ground ‘gripping’ floor with the toes
Inhale and brace creating abdominal pressure
Hinge the hips, keeping the kettlebell at the top of the groin are
Hinge back until the hamstrings tighten
When point of transformation is reached snap hips forward contracting the glutes
Kettlebell is propelled forward at snap to approximately shoulder height (you shouldn't need to lift the bell, the power and drive of the snap should be enough to lift the bell into the air)
Arms should have a relaxed tension and the shoulder should be ‘sucked’ into the joint
Let the bell drop back down and follow it through back into hinge snap position & repeat for recommended repetitions
The kettlebell swing predominantly works into the back of the body especially the glutes, hamstrings, hips, core and back.
You will get some conditioning through the quads but not as much as with squats or lunges, great for women because it will not bulk up the legs.
The shoulder stabilisers also get a lot of work as they try and prevent the shoulder joint from being pulled apart.
Key Coaching Points
Get Your Feet In The Right Place
The feet should be placed shoulder width apart or a touch wider.
Toes should turn outwards at approx. 10 degrees. The toes should track along the same line as the shin and knees preventing unnecessary torque on the knee joint during each swing.
Weight should remain predominantly on the outside and middle to heel of the feet. This will ensure that you activate the back of the body and buttocks correctly.
At no point should your weight transfer to your toes.
To ensure that your weight distribution is correct you can practice a few kettlebell swings with your toes gripping the ground.
Use Your Hips for Power
Your hips are the engine or powerhouse for the movement.
You should crease at the hips with a flat back.
Think about actively pushing your hips backwards and then driving them forwards.
Keep Your Back Flat
It is crucial that during every single kettlebell swing you keep your lower back flat.
There should be a straight line running from your tail right up to your shoulders. Keep your chest raised high as if being pulled up by your rib cage.
If you find that your back starts to bend at the bottom part of the kettlebell swing then push your hips further backwards and don’t lean so far forwards.
Activate Those Abs
The core and abdominal muscles are worked hard during the kettlebell swing.
Each time you drive your hips forwards your abs should contract to prevent the hips from going past the centre-line.
Your breathing should fall in line with this. Inhale when the kettlebell passes through the legs and exhale on the hip snap into swing (abs then contract)
Don’t Use Your Shoulders or Arms
It is important to realise that during the swing the shoulders are used merely as a connection between arms and body. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed. Remember all the power should come from the hips.
What’s Your Head Doing?
The head needs to be positioned so that it creates a good alignment at the neck.
I will often teach beginners just to focus on the horizon as a lifted chin at the downward part of the kettlebell swing will help to keep the back flat.
So once you are comfortable with keeping your back flat throughout the entire movement you should practice keeping your head and neck in alignment through the entire movement.
As the swing comes down you need to follow the movement with the head and end up looking just in front of your feet at the bottom part of the movement.
So you begin with eyes looking straight ahead and finish with eyes looking about 3-4 feet in front of you.
Use The Correct Grip
During your kettlebell swing your grip should be relaxed and not too tight.
Depending on the width of the kettlebell handle you are using you may be able to hold on with all fingers from both hands, this is the best option.
If you are using a narrow handled kettlebell like the competition kettlebells then you may only be able to hold on with 3 fingers from each hand and have the little finger outside the handle.
The swing challenges the grip more than many people realise.
During the swing the kettlebell is constantly trying to get away from you and so good grip is required just to keep holding on.
If you use a fatter gripped handle then your grip will be challenged even more!
Finishing the Kettlebell Swing
So you have started correctly and used perfect form throughout your swings. The last thing you want to do now is hurt yourself by finishing the swing badly.
Don’t attempt to twist your body and swing it to the side of your one foot.
During the last kettlebell swing repetition, decelerate its momentum as it swings between your legs and come to a steady stop in front of you, keeping your back flat at all times.
Generating More Power
As mentioned many times, all the power for the kettlebell swing comes from the hips.
If you want to generate the maximum amount of power then explode forwards with the hips and snap them to vertical.
Beginners should really practice this “snapping of the hips”. The harder you snap the more force you will generate and the more muscles and energy you will use.
Single arm kettlebell swing
(only practice this once you have mastered the 2 arm swing)
As with the traditional Kettlebell Swing, it too works your lower body, core, shoulders, back, and activates the strongest joint in your body – the hip.
This is an excellent progression from the standard kettlebell swing, can add a fun and challenging component, and can be built further to more difficult and complex exercises.
The one-arm kettlebell bell swing is merely a variation of the traditional two arm kettlebell swing .
This particular variation does the same movement as the kettlebell swing, just uses one arm at a time. The benefit to this are as follows:
You require your core to do more work to stabilise and keep a straight trajectory. This helps strengthen the lumbar and abdominal muscles in a different way than the traditional kettlebell swing.
You are placing particular emphasis on one shoulder and back muscle and it is trained differently.
You promote equal development by doing the same amount of reps per side, ensuring you are placing the same effort rather than doing both sides at the same time.
Just like with the two-arm variation, start position remains the same and the kettlebell is held by the handle.
Then, make sure your knees always have a slight bend and your lower leg (calves) are straight as shown above.
Make sure that your neck is straight and your head is in alignment. Try and make sure that there is no pressure in your neck at all times.
Make sure that there is full hip extension at the hip shown in circle, which will make the exercise that much more effective.
Additionally, you have to keep your shoulder blades back and neck straight the entire time. You keep your one arm straight (or a slight bend) and raise to chest height
HAND TO HAND kettlebell swing
(only practice this once you have mastered the ONE ARM swing)
The next progression on from the one arm kettlebell swing is the ability to change hands without having to put the kettlebell down in between repetitions.
Once you can swing from hand to hand it makes your kettlebell training flow much better enabling you to easily transition from one exercise to the next.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
After watching the videos and reading the technical breakdown a few times it's all about you practicing...
Kettlebell training is all about practice, practice, practice. I cannot emphasise this enough.
"It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing" :)
When you decide to learn how to use a kettlebell, you become a student of kettlebells.
So practice the mechanics of the exercise first before moving onto the practice workouts
When you are ready you will find your kettlebell workouts below that you can use to practice.
Please note: I recommend that you spend some time going over the hip hinge and the swing before starting the workouts just to make sure you are happy with the movement.
WHAT DO I DO ONCE I HAVE PRACTICED?
OK so this is important: If you have questions about anything to do with this exercise then you must ask. Fill out the contact box below and I will get back to you.
Once you have spent some time practicing the Kettlebell Swing and performed at least one practice workout please submit a video of you performing the swing (from the side, as per the video below) to email@example.com and I will analyse it and give you feedback (feel free to post it in the group if you feel more comfortable with that)
Having the right technique ensures that you can perform the exercise safely and effectively. If there are no corrections to be made I will get you started on the next module.
At the end of the day you want to do it properly, right?
That's what i'm here for to support and coach. So why not make full use of it.
No responsibility is accepted for any injury, loss or damage suffered as a result of the use of this information or reliance upon it. it is the responsibility of users to satisfy themselves as to their medical and physical condition, in respect to undertaking the exercises, information and recommendations made. Irrespective of a user's medical or physical condition, no responsibility or liability is accepted for any injury, loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of undertaking these exercises or adopting the information and recommendations.