Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Optimal Health

BREAK IT DOWN: The Kettlebell Swing


– Fitness Tips –

Master this dynamic move to build full-body strength and power.

Kettlebell swing

The swing is the classic kettlebell exercise. It’s a ballistic move that builds full-body strength as well as explosive power, working the posterior chain — the muscles in your back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves — as well as the upper body, namely your lats, forearms, and hands.

At the same time, it’s a conditioning tool, improving cardiovascular capacity and burning fat.

Moreover, a well-executed swing enhances body awareness and improves core stability.

Despite its benefits, the dynamic movement can be intimidating for newcomers. Even for seasoned exercisers, it’s easy to succumb to common pitfalls that make the swing ineffective or even painful, particularly through the lower back.

The key is to remember that you — not the weight ­— are the master. You swing the kettlebell; the weight does not swing you.

These tips can help you swing more effectively.

1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and a kettlebell 1 to 2 feet in front of you. Hinge at the hips to reach down and grasp the kettlebell.

2. Tip the kettlebell handle toward you. With your core engaged and lower back flat, quickly “hike” the kettlebell backward, high between your legs.

Tip: Engage your lats once the kettlebell reaches its apex to push it back between your legs. Repeat, then “park” the weight in front of you with control.

Tip: In the hike position, make sure the triangle shape formed by the kettlebell’s handle and horns is completely above knee height.

3. Reverse the movement by forcefully driving your hips forward. Contract your glutes to come to standing as the kettlebell swings out in front of you.

Tip: Open your hips completely, but don’t throw your shoulders back behind your hips. Imagine that the top position is a perfectly stable standing plank.

Tip: At its highest position, the kettlebell should feel weightless because of the power generated by your hips.

Tip: Make sure you can gaze over the kettlebell; do not try to swing it higher than your nose.

4. Engage your lats once the kettlebell reaches its apex to push it back between your legs. Repeat, then “park” the weight in front of you with control.

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