When you look at a kettlebell, what’s the first exercise you think of? Of course the Kettlebell Swing! In big box gyms, you’ll see a lot of people doing this exercise but without understanding why they are doing it. The exercise might seem simple enough but most people without proper training are not doing this exercise correctly! The purpose of the kettlebell swing is to target the muscles in the posterior chain. This includes muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, back, traps, and calves. The swing develops the amount of power and momentum you are able to fire through the muscles in your lower body. Here are some pointers that can help you develop a respectable kettlebell swing!
Tip 1: Hinge at The Hips!
This is the most common mistake people make when executing the kettlebell swing. Walk into any gym and you’ll see people doing a combination of a squat and a front shoulder raise. When performing this exercise, the weight should be loaded in your hips and hamstrings similarly to a deadlift. When the weight comes back, the hips shoot back. As the kettlebell is swung to the shoulders, the hips should follow through back to a standing position. Instead of squatting, imagine you are deadlifting, or performing a hip thrust with your lower body!
Tip 2: Load your Kettlebell
Another important tip is to make sure that your kettlebell begins in the correct position. Many people start swinging while holding the kettlebell at the hips. Instead, load your kettlebell from the floor and start your first swing from in front of you. This will ensure safety of the lower back and allow you to start with your hips and lower body ready to drive the weight into your swing! It is important to keep in mind that most kettlebell exercises or swing variations must always begin from the floor.
Tip 3: Keep your arms and shoulder relaxed
The kettlebell swing is primarily a lower body exercise. The arms and shoulders are simply a way for the athlete to hold the weight. While swinging, the weight should be moving by using your hamstrings and glutes to power the kettlebell. The arms should move with the momentum of the bell as it swings back and forth! We are not trying to do a shoulder raise during this movement! Keeping your arms relaxed will also force your body to find a way to get the kettlebell to swing, which allows the athlete to fire more muscles in the lower body.
Tip 4: Use your back!
Think of the deadlift! When hinging, the back should be straight, chest up and the shoulder should be pulled back to engage the lats, or the sides of your back. The same should be done when doing a kettlebell swing! Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together to keep your lats engaged and back flat. This will ensure that you are not rounding your back which can be dangerous during this exercise. Rounding the back when swinging can be harmful to your lower back and spine which is NOT what we want!
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The kettlebell swing can be a deceivingly technical exercise! However with practice and proper training from our coaches, you’ll be on your way to a perfect kettlebell swing! Click on our WHAT WE OFFER tab at the top of the page to learn more about getting 1-on-1 training with one of our coaches!