Learn how to perform the basic double-arm kettlebell swing with a hip hinge and avoid lower back problems commonly experienced when the swing is performed incorrectly. Once you learn the kettlebell swing you can include it in your training for cardio with higher reps and lower weight, or for strength and power with lower reps and higher weight.
1 Place a kettlebell in front of you at a distance where you can comfortably reach it while bending at the knees and hips. Make sure not to round the back and keep the cervical aligned with the rest of the spine.
2 Position your feet. The feet are placed apart at a distance where the kettlebell can comfortably be pulled through but not so wide that the stance turns into a sumo squat position.
3 Bend forward. From a neutral stance, you are now going to bend forward to start your first kettlebell swing dead from the ground. The hip and knees bend but not the ankles because this is the hip hinge version of the kettlebell swing.
4 While in hip flexion (bending forward), do not overreach while grabbing the handle of the kettlebell with two hands. Create some tension between yourself and the kettlebell before starting the first pull.
5 Pull the weight all the way back between the legs so that the upper arms connect with your body. While pulling back you make sure that your torso does not lower further down, rather, it comes up very slightly.
6 This first pull was to get the swing started. Now it’s time to start the kettlebell swings. Pull the weight out by contracting the hip flexors (gluteals, hamstrings, adductor magnus), think of this as pulling the pelvis up and coming in a standing position. Keep the spine braced and straight.
7 Direct the weight out and away from you as you come up. Do not shoulder raise the weight, the swing is a lower body-powered exercise and not a shoulder exercise.
8 The top of the swing is where the arms are straight and the kettlebell reached the apex of the swing. At this stage your shoulders are pulled down and away from your ears, your chest is pushed out, you’re looking ahead, and you’re waiting for the weight to fall back down. Let it fall.
9 Do not break at the hips until the weight is close to the legs, once it is, that is the time to break at the hips and knees. All this is to protect the lower back.
10 Perform an insert between the legs. Direct the weight to the back and prevent bobbing of the kettlebell. Bobbing of the kettlebell means the trajectory is incorrect and can cause blisters. You’ve arrived at the same position as when you pulled the kettlebell back for the first swing. Repeat everything from step 6 to continue the kettlebell swings.
- Focus on two joints, your hips and knees, the rest should remain unmovable.
- The kettlebell should become an extension of your arms.
- If the kettlebell droops at the apex of the swing then you’re shoulder raising it rather than powering it up.
- The delay of the hip hinge and insert is super important for a correct trajectory.
- Do not round the back.
- Do not shoulder raise.
- Start with a light weight and work your way up.
- Don’t follow the kettlebell.
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Bobbing is a short abrupt movement that can occur at the end of the backswing when the trajectory is not right. We cover how to prevent bobbing in our Kettlebell Training Fundamentals and Master The Basic Kettlebell Swing books. Check the link for a great kettlebell infographic that illustrates the problem. #cavemantraining #kettlebell #kettlebellswings