I’d like to share with you a little story about myself. Last September while traveling in Scotland I fell down an escalator and dislocated my left patella. Not fun! Especially since it was the 4th time it had happened to my knee since my teens and I was on the road instructing at workshops.
Obviously, all squatting and ballistic movements were off-limits for a couple of months. Yet I still needed to keep my strength in my glutes , legs and back as much as possible. So I came up with a couple of exercises (along with my “go-to” knee rehab exercise the single-leg deadlift), the pendulum swing and the deadlift row.
Today I’m going to talk about the pendulum swing. This exercise is one of the progressions we use in the RKC for teaching the swing. It is used to teach the idea that the lats are very active on the backswing and are necessary to help fully load the hips and glutes at the bottom of the swing.
This exercise reinforces the loading of the butt and legs and the activation of the lats. When done in an interval, your back and butt will be screaming for mercy!
I usually perform them with a :30 work/:25 rest interval. I superset pendulum swings with the Dead Swings, and the Dead-lift row.
To begin, start in your swing stance, using a heavy kettlebell. A heavier kettlebell is easier to use during the pendulum than a lighter bell, the more weight the more it counterbalances your hips. Trust me, if you go to light you’ll end up on your butt!
Grab the kettlebell with 2-hands and “hike-pass” the kettlebell explosively between your legs. Your upper arms will make contact with your ribcage on the backswing.
Just let your arms relax and “float” forward, do not use your arms to swing it forward. As the kettlebell swings to the front stay low and sit back and down. Tighten your glutes and keep your shoulders packed, the kettlebell should still be able to float straight forward. Just do not let your shoulders shrug up or out as the kettlebell swings to the front.
The focus is on the backswing with the arms doing a lot of the work, your lats, triceps and back will really get a great workout. It’s super important to remember you MUST keep a neutral spine throughout the entire set. If you lose the spinal position, immediately put the kettlebell down and rest, before starting again.
As the kettlebell floats/swings forward, the emphasis should be on sitting back and down, not on the kettlebell moving forward. There is a natural rocking motion you’ll achieve as you do this. Rocking slightly from the heels to the balls of the feet. BUT, make sure to keep your feet as rooted as possible while doing this exercise.
Your butt and legs, lats and triceps should be on fire when you’re done.
As I mentioned feel free to superset these with any other swing or deadlift exercises. And use any interval timing that suits your needs and fitness level.
For those with knee problems, this is a excellent alternative to full explosive swings.
Andrea Du Cane is a Master Kettlebell Instructor, CK-FMS certified, CICS certified, Primal Move National Instructor and RIST, ZHealth certified, and has a BA in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. She is featured on Breaking Muscle website as the February 2012 coach of the month. She is also a Pilates instructor. She has over twenty years of aerobics, weight training and fitness experience, with an additional background in… Read more here.