Okay full disclaimer I am not the most knowledgable trainer when it comes to kettlebell specific training. I recently purchased a couple to use with my clients and have been experimenting with the some movements I hadn't ever done before, such as windmills and bent presses. It has been a lot of fun to learn some new things and "play" in the gym, but I wanted to share today an exercise that I have recently implemented back into my clients programmings do to the acquisition of the new kettlebells. And this exercise is the SWING! I think it is by far the king of all the kettlebell movements for a couple of different reasons. First it is an awesome way to grove the hip hinge pattern for a beginner who has just recently acquired the ability to hinge. Second it is a powerful, explosive movement that teaches people how to generate large amounts of force in a small amount of time, making it a great alternative to the olympic lifts.
Which brings me to my last point regarding the swing. The swing is by far one of the best movements to use with general population clients to develop a clients ability to generate force. Typically this is a characteristics we train through the olympic lifts and their derivatives, but for the general population I feel that the snatch and clean are not really worth the time spent coaching and the inherent risk of injury with the general population who just want to look good naked. But it is still important to incorporate exercises that develop power because studies demonstrate that it is often one of the physical traits that declines the fastest with aging.
This is where the swing steps in. It is easy to coach and just about any person can do it with good form. Yet they offer the same benefit of increased power production.
Like I said at the beginning of this post I am not a kettlebell expert, but I am a trainer and I believe I have a good understanding of how the kettlebell should be performed and how to coach it. Here it is try incorporating the swing into your program if you have access to kettlebells.
To Perform the Kettlebell Swing
- To begin place the kettlebell with the handle down against the ground facing you. Reach out with both hands and grab the handle still keeping the kettlebell leaned towards you.
- Maintaining a neutral spine, drive your hips back to the wall behind you and allow you knees to bend slightly. You should now resemble a center in football, who is getting ready to hike the football to a quarterback.
- To initiate the swing, pull the dumbbell back and up towards you. Aim for the kettlebell to pass just below your groin. Keep your arms straight and your hips and knees flexed.
- Once the kettlebell has passed through your legs initiate the upward and forward arch of the swing by snapping your hips forward and extending your knees. Keep your arms relaxed and allow the force generated by your hips to carry the kettlebell upward.
- Once the kettlebell has reached the top of it's swing, which should be shoulder height or just below, you will actively pull the kettlebell down. A great cue for to get this right comes from Dan John. He says to think "about attacking your groin."
- As the kettlebell is attacking your groin flex your hips back towards the wall behind you and your knees to bend. You should still maintain a neutral spine. From here you will repeat the movement.
Below is a video of me demonstrating the entire movement
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