The Dirty Dozen: Move #1 – The Kettlebell Swing

by Phil Ross on February 13, 2013

The Kettlebell Swing: Often to referred to as the “Mother of All Kettlebell Exercises” and is the root of all Kettlebell Training.

The Kettlebell Swing is not only the basis but one of the biggest differentiators between Kettlebell Training and other strength and conditioning systems. The Kettlebell Swing “reverse engineers” the practitioner’s hips by the development of the hip hinge, hamstring and glute recruitment through the pop and lock required to execute the movement properly. In addition, the incredible rooting effect for power transference through the body is applicable to improved performance in virtually all sports and strength performance.

The Kettlebell Swing has so many benefits, yet many go untapped through poor execution. I’ve had people walk into my studio claiming “I love to swing, I do tons of them all of the time.”  Then I watch them swing – Ooof! I don’t know where the heck they learned to “swing”, but now I know why they thought that swings were easy! No eccentric/concentric motion, shoulder’s not packed, no rooting, legs bent at the top and to much at the bottom, chicken necking so much that I thought was I hanging with Frank Perdue, lats not engaged, power leaks all over!

Now that we’ve looked at the poor examples, how do we execute the swing? Step one, find a quality instructor or at least purchase some DVDs or get your hands on a video program from one of the top flight RKC Instructors. I will mention, no matter how good a video is, nothing replaces working under the scrutiny of a qualified Kettlebell Instructor.

Starting from the ground up, let’s consider our feet. First make certain that your feet are the correct width apart. If they are too close, you’ll never be able to swing the bell between your legs. If they are too far apart, you won’t be able to completely fire your gluteus, thus leaking power. Additionally, you will tax your hip flexors more which could result in injury. Rooting with the floor is key. Take advantage of the feedback from your feet with the floor. Establishing that that intimate contact with the floor creates a map of you body’s nervous system and helps facilitate feedback and feedforward of movement.

Draw your kneecaps up into your quadriceps as you lock out your knees. This should happen simultaneously to the driving of your coccyx to your naval and the contraction of your gluteus.

While all of this in occurring, you need to shorten your abdominals by “zipping up” and exhaling a short, hard purposeful breath.

Pack your shoulders and engage the lats as the power of the swing travels from the ground, through your feet, into your legs and through you hips and gluteus, up into your lats, passing through your arms and shoots out of the bottom of the Kettlebell.

When you are swinging, think of “hips and grips”. It’s also very important that you go between full relaxation and full tension. This is how to develop incredibly useful strength!

There are quite a few swing variations. There are the two hand swings, the one hand swing, hopping lateral swing, hand to hand swing, dual bell swing, dead start swing, walking swings and the much maligned bottoms up swing, to name a few. All of the same principles apply to all of the swing variations, however there are certain unique benefits to each variation. Check out the accompanying video demonstrating some of the variations of the swing.

 

Now its time to get off of the computer and start swinging!

Master RKC, 8th Degree Black Belt, Specialist in Bodyweight Strength and CK-FMS Certified. Phil Ross’ name is synonymous with Martial Arts and Fitness. He is known as the area’s Kettlebell King and has successfully competed on the National Level in…  Read more here.

 

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