Are you a swinger?

Ok first up. Those cannonball with a handle looking weights you’ve seen around the gym is a kettlebell, not a kettleball.  The kettlebell swing is a ballistic, explosive movement seen throughout strength and conditioning realms, functional fitness competitions, and just everyday fitness.

My First real introduction to kettlebells was about 12 years ago through a trainer I used to work with called Brian.  He was an absolute fan of these and did several courses of which he passed on his knowledge to me.  I did have reservations at the start but believe me when I say this is one of the better exercises around if done correctly!  The problems arise when (as with any exercise), if it is not executed well then one of two things happen, injury or no benefit achieved for the effort you put in.

The Basic Two-Handed Swing

The two-handed swing has been known to leave plenty of my clients of all ages and ability levels and genders, scratching their heads, wondering, ” what do You mean “I don’t use my arms to swing this thing?”

Di recently added kettlebell swings into her training session and the following day she was wondering what had made her lats (big muscles in the back) so sore. She finally worked out that it had been the KB swings.

The kettlebell swing is the most complete functional exercise out there. This is a unique exercise that also teaches you how to use the hip drive (pelvic thrust). This is a whole-body exercise that is taxing on your grip, abs, as well as the whole posterior chain – calves, hamstrings, glutes, lower and mid back.

The main thing to remember when doing kettlebell swings is to let the kettlebell hang in your arm (a loose grip but not soft). Imagine it is a pendulum. All the force that propels the kettlebell is coming from the hips, not from your arm or shoulders.  (holy moly this may be the best exercise you can do with your clothes on!).  It’s like swinging a bucket of water without losing any water.

For calorie burning, this is an insane conditioning exercise, the kettlebell swing is all inclusive, but other than holding the kettlebell the hips legs and back do a majority of the work.

Therefore when performed correctly, kettlebell swings build total body strength, power, and balance, while improving cardiovascular stamina, all with one piece of equipment.

Russian vs American who is the best swinger

There are two types of kettlebell swings, the Russian movement originates at the groin and finishes at eye level. The American swing, on the other hand, mirrors the motion of the Russian swing until the apex of the movement but instead of stopping at eye level, the American swing finishes with the arms and kettlebell overhead.

There are two schools of thought from here, you can extend the weight overhead in an American Swing, or you can allow the weight to stop at the top of its momentum around chest high in the Russian Swing. American Swings are known more for use as a cardio exercise, allowing less weight to be used but a longer range of motion. I would suggest that if you are a beginner, the Russian swing to ensure correct technique as it places less emphasis on the shoulders but If you are not sure what swing is best ask your trainer as both types are great exercises for differing reasons.

Here are some technique tips that may help you get your swing on.

THE HINGE:  Hinge, Not a Squat

There are several variations of the Kettlebell Swing, but the standard form of the exercise is a hinge at the hips, not a squat. If you aren’t feeling a stretch in your hamstrings as you perform each repetition, you are probably bending at the knees and squatting rather than hinging at the hips and activating your posterior chain. Keep a tight core, straight back, and get your hips behind your centerline.

THE SNAP: Explosive, Not Passive

The primary benefit of the Kettlebell Swing is the ability to use a ballistic, explosive movement with your hips to build core strength and conditioning. Again, while there are the standard form requires an explosive hip “snap” to drive the weight forward.

 Make it look dirty: More bend and snap. Drive those hips back. Only bend your knees as much as you need to keep your back arched. Squeeze your glutes and abs at the top position, hard.

Make it look even dirtier:  Move those hips and explode forward!

THE LOCK

At the top of a kettlebell swing you want full hip extension, knees locked, feet rooted into the ground, core tight, and glutes squeezed. The lock is important for generating full explosive power at the top part of the swing.

Squeeze your glutes like you’ve got a $100 bill between your butt cheeks and you’re not giving it back!

Brace your abs like you’re about to take a punch.

And pull your shoulders as far from your ears as possible contracting your lats.

THE DROP

The kettlebell should end up between your legs directly below your butt at the beginning and ending with good form. Your arms should be locked out, hips behind your center line, knees slightly bent, and your spine should be neutral locked down position shoulders down.

This position is impossible to achieve if you are falling with the kettlebell rather than letting the kettlebell fall by itself and allowing it to drag you down with it.

Repeat for 10 – 15 reps

The Bosses ASSESSmint:

The KB swing, will benefit every male or females exercise regime and has proven to be a fantastic addition to any type of training program.  Get out there and start swinging!  Oh, and did I mention that kettlebell swing burns a shit load of calories and makes the back end high & tight?

Put yourself out there and be a swinger!

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