Kettlebell swings are one of the most popular exercises you can do with a kettlebell. The kettlebell swing is the foundation of almost every kettlebell exercise. The thing with the swing, is that if you’re not working with a coach you’re probably not doing it right. In this article I will be providing the step by step approach I use to getting down your first kettlebell swing.
DON’T DO THIS
1. HIP HINGE- Begin with the feet shoulder length apart and imagine as if you have a string attached to the top of your head that’s pulling you up, this way you can be as tall as you can get. Have a slight bend in the knees, think very minimal bend but enough so it isn’t locked out. Imagine as if you are a can crusher, the can is placed at your belt line, you then push your hips back and crush the can with the hips and lower abdominals. Lastly keep your back as straight as you can by pulling your shoulder back, finish the hip hinge by standing up tall by locking the knees out and squeezing the glutes.
Clean Up Your Hinge- It is very easy to squat the hinge (where you use more knee bend than hip bend) make sure that every time you perform a hip hinge you feel a good pull on the back of your legs. Using a dowel will help you with maintaining a straight back you will make sure that you keep the three points of contact (head, middle back between the shoulders, and lower back) in mind while hinging. The reason we want to avoid squatting the hip hinge is because we are not using the knees in a swing, we are using the hips to produce force. Maintaining proper alignment by keeping a straight back through the swing will help with avoiding injury.
2. Deadlift- The deadlift is the exact same set up as the hip hinge, but you are now loading up the hinge. Place the kettlebell between your feet so the handle is in line with your toes. Hip hinge down and grab onto the hand, when you grab the handle make sure that you try to break the handle in half that way the back of your arms are tight against the ribs. Pinch your shoulders back, sit back on the heel and stand up tall. Make sure you finish by squeezing the glutes very tight by trying to crack a walnut or break some pencils.
Clean Up Your Deadlift- If you find yourself sitting far too back onto your heels where your toes are coming off the ground try this, punch your feet into the ground and imagine as if you are going to be pulling grass with your toes. Make sure that as your pulling the bell from the ground that you are keeping the elbows as straight as you can. Finish strong, make sure that you are embracing the abdominals and the glutes at the top of your position. Avoid arching your low back at the top of the deadlift, this can lead to low back pain. Explosive Deadlift– Once you’ve owned the deadlifting technique move on to the explosive deadlift. The explosive deadlift is the same as a regular deadlift except you are finishing the deadlift quick and powerful.
3. Hike Pass- The hike pass is done at the bottom position of your hinge. Place the bell about a foot or two away from you and tilt the bell towards you, it is crucial that you tilt the bell towards you to help the bell pass. Break the handle in half and sink the shoulder blades into your rear pockets. Imagine as if you are a football player and you are going to hike the kettlebell behind you, make sure that as you hike the bell behind you that you are getting the bell as far back as it can go, finish by placing the bell in the start position where it is tilted towards you.
Clean Up Your Hike Pass- As you hike the bell behind you make sure that the triceps are in contact with the ribs. The hike pass needs to have the hands go high into the thigh, make sure that you are attacking your zipper with each pass. Inhale through the nose as you tilt the bell towards you and hike it back, as the bell comes back exhale through the mouth. Make sure you are maintaining a straight back while you are bringing your chest out in front of you as you hike the bell.
4. Swing- Finally the swing, we are now going to piece together steps one through three for your first kettlebell swing. Place the bell a foot or two away from you and get into your hike pass position. Hike the bell behind you and perform your explosive deadlift to propel the bell in front of you. The hands are meat hooks and the arms are ropes, the arms do not bring the bell up, it is the force generated from the hips that raise the bell up to the chest. Allow the bell to float down and hinge for you, park the bell and repeat the motion as singles until you are ready for continuous swings.
Clean Up Your Swing- One area that many people have issues with is the timing of the hip hinge with the swing, as the bell is coming back down, WAIT for the bell to hinge you back, this is again attacking the zipper and keeping the hands from going below the knee. If you feel that you are using your upper body to swing, a quick fix for that is using a heavier bell, it is very difficult to muscle up a heavier bell up. If you are squatting your swing, revisit your deadlift and own that skill before you are swinging the bell again. BREATHING is very important when it comes to your swing, make sure that you are sniffing the air at the bottom of the swing and exhaling through the mouth at the top of the swing.
Putting It Together for Training- Now that we have all the right steps to perform a swing it’s time to put a plan together for it. Take a week owning each skill, apply three to four sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Do not move on to the next progression until you have fully mastered the prior technique. Learning to swing does take time, but the benefits are well worth it.