THE KETTLEBELL SWING
One of the most important kettlebell exercises you need to know.
– presented by Taco Fleur
The kettlebell swing is the foundation for many other kettlebell exercises and therefore it is important you become proficient in this exercise and understand each fine little detail of the exercise.
The Kettlebell swing is a full-body exercise and really helps to strengthen the posterior chain muscles.
The posterior chain muscles are comprised of various muscles but some of the main muscles are the biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, erector spinae muscle group, trapezius, posterior deltoids, and so on.
The kettlebell swing is very similar to the hip hinge Deadlift, the main difference is that the weight swings and the movement is explosive, but the hinge movement of the hips is the same.
When the Kettlebell Swing is referred to it is in most cases the Russian Kettlebell Swing that is referred to, the other popular but different swing is the American Swing.
Stand in a spine-neutral position with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with the Kettlebell in front of you.
Maintain a neutral spine at all times during the swing.
Keep the feet flat on the ground at all times to be able to push into the ground and activate the right muscles to propel the bell forward.
Keep the arms straight at all times.
Leave the arms/shoulders relaxed and only use them like a pendulum so the Kettlebell can swing freely.
Hold the kettlebell by the handle with both hands and a loose grip.
Pull the kettlebell off the ground and between the legs.
Extend the hips and bring the upper body upright to propel the Kettlebell forward.
Do not involve your shoulders to lift the Kettlebell upwards, let the force from the extension of the hips and the coming upright of the upper body propel the Kettlebell.
Do not hyperextend the back when extending the hips, in other words, do not push your hips past your ankles and shoulders.
Make sure to squeeze the Glutes when extending the hips.
The top of the swing is when the Kettlebell is motionless in the air for a split second.
The Kettlebell usually reaches about chest height but keep in mind that the Kettlebell only needs to swing as high as the force generated by your hips will move it.
At the top of the swing remember:
- chest out and shoulders back
- engage the core
- squeeze the glutes
- legs are straight but knees are not locked out
When the Kettlebell starts to fall down, it’s time to break at the hips.
The Kettlebell should come through the legs approximately around the knees, you should be able to put another Kettlebell between your legs and not hit it.
Elbows/forearms should be making contact around the waistline, and part of the wrists around the upper thighs.
Exhale through the mouth.
Inhale through the nose.
Break at the hips and push them backward (AKA Hip Hinge), and try and keep the knees above the ankles as much as possible. This is also known as the conventional Hip Hinge.
You should feel the tension on the hamstrings when pushing the hips back, and remember that this is not a squat. Although a squat movement can be used for the swing.
Adjust repetitions and weight based on your goals and program.
Pick a weight too light and you don’t get the resistance you need to activate the right muscles, pick a weight too heavy and your form will go out the door.
As a general rule and keep in mind everyone is different. I would only use a 6kg Kettlebell for a child, and start women on 8kg at least, even when starting out.
If the form goes out the door even with 8kg, then I would reset rather than go to 6kg and go through the exercise again making sure the client understands what muscles to activate, etc.
I start men out at least at 10kg or 12kg. Make sure to assess your clients’ swing from side and front on.
No hip drive – will fatigue quickly in shoulders and lower back
Coming too low – the lower back will start hurting
Hyperextending the back – prone to more serious injury
Happy feet – not able to activate the right muscles
Our exercises are explained in the fine little details, based on our experience over the years, however, not every human being is built or functions the same, therefore keep in mind that certain moves might not work the same for your body, always use common sense and adjust the exercise to your body.
As long as the exercise is performed safely, any slight adjustments should be fine, if unsure, join our group and post at facebook.com/groups/KettlebellTraining/.
Join our private and exclusive Caveman Inner Circle where you receive a new weekly kettlebell workout online, but also get the opportunity to receive personalized kettlebell coaching and improve your kettlebell training. This group has been running for over 4 years and there are over 200 full-length follow-along kettlebell workouts available plus warm-ups, cooldowns, and technique videos.
There is so much more content that covers just the kettlebell swing and our books in our online shop or Amazon will provide you with all that information. Technique, common mistakes to avoid, workouts, and avoiding injuries.
The following video is a long video that shows me taking a complete beginner with no experience through the steps and progressions.