I talked in my last post about why I love kettlebells and all the reasons they are beneficial for you. This naturally leads me into the topic of the most famous kettlebell exercise: the swing. Reason being is it also happens to be one of the most misunderstood and incorrectly done exercises, which leads many people to believe the swing is dangerous. OK, sure. When done incorrectly it can be harmful. That is fitness. Any exercise can be that.
When you put a weight over your head and there is always the possibility of dropping it on your face. When you do any exercise with poor form or too much weight OR play a sport, there is always the possibility of injury.
That is why a good trainer will harp on your form until its perfect! And then continue to make sure it stays that way.
OK, back to the swing. There is good reason that it is so commonly done incorrectly. It is not like most exercises. In fact, it goes against most of the fundamental rules of weight lifting. That is: lower the weight slowly, keep your chest up, and slow down. Because of that, the swing is also pretty counter-intuitive. In fact, if you don’t feel pretty darn awkward when you’re first learning you’re probably doing it wrong.
So to get started, I would like you to watch this quick, uuh, educational video. And no I’m not joking. I got this brilliant idea from the lovely Jen Sinkler and there really is a point to it… 😉
SO, the 2 main factors in the kettlebell swing:
1.First you’re going to bend….but not at the knees, at the hips. It is not a squat. Just like Elle so beautifully demonstrated :), you’re going to bend forward, sticking your butt out and dropping your chest toward the floor; much more akin to a deadlift than a squat. As the bell falls, don’t resist it. Let the bell pull your upper body down. This is not one of those times when you should be “lowering it slowly”.
2.Then SNAP!… also called a hip thrust or “popping” your hips; it’s all the same idea. You’re going to snap your hips by squeezing your butt and driving your hips forward quickly and powerfully. You’re literally going to drive the kettlebell up and out with your hips. So don’t hold back!! This is what gets the bell to pop up. Remember what I said above. If you don’t feel awkward, you ain’t doing it right!
*Here are a few helpful tips to remember:
- Relax your arms. This is not a shoulder exercise. But if I relax my arms, how do I get the bell to swing up?!?!?!? That’s what the hip snap is for! The only part of the arm that should be working is your forearms from gripping the bell. That’s it.
- The handle of the bell should never drop below your knees! Most people want to drop it really low because they think they should be squatting, but the swing is a glute and hamstring exercise so you should mainly be feeling it in your butt and the back of your thighs.
- Keep your back straight fool!! Even all the ladies in the video had nice straight backs! So stick that chest out, keep it out, and your back will look the same. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 (But seriously, I love you guys and don’t want you to get hurt. So keep that back nice and straight and let your glutes and hams do the heavy lifting.)
These things are all much easier to see and understand in person. Since that’s not possible, I did the next best thing…
I really do hope this clears some things up for you guys and helps you go from ain’t no swing to ain’t no thing! Good luck!
**As a little bonus, if you still aren’t sure you’re doing it right or it hurts your back, take a video of yourself swinging. Send me the video at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my facebook and I will personally watch it and give you the tips you need to fix it!
***Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*