The Kettlebell Swing is one of the most widely taught kettlebell exercises around, but you probably haven’t heard these five tips before. Here are some different aspects of the Kettlebell Swing that you should consider before you start your next kettlebell session. Get ready for the perfect Kettlebell Swing.
The Kettlebell Swing exercise is one of the most iconic and beneficial kettlebell drills. This ballistic movement helps to strengthen your core and hips while encouraging full body utilization and coordination.
The perfect Kettlebell Swing requires proper timing and technique, allowing for safe, high repetition sets that will improve work capacity, functional explosiveness, and muscular endurance. It’s also a “gateway” into a variety of other ballistic kettlebell exercises that have even more benefits for your strength, conditioning, and agility.
While it is also highly beneficial (and recommended) that you are taught the Kettlebell Swing by a kettlebell professional, there are some key points to this deceptively technical exercise that will help you perform it with proper form. Even if you’ve been taught by someone who knows what they’re doing, it’s still easy to deviate from the path when you’ve been doing it for a while.
Remembering these five key points to the Kettlebell Swing will keep your form intact while helping you continually progress to heavier kettlebell weights.
Tip 1 – This is Not Yoga, the Kettlebell Swing is Explosive!
The primary benefit of the perfect Kettlebell Swing is the ability to use a ballistic, explosive movement with your hips to build core strength and conditioning. Again, while there are variations (the Girevoy Sport/Kettlebell Sport “efficient” variation in this case), the standard form of the Kettlebell Swing requires an explosive hip “snap” to drive the weight forward.
If your hips aren’t moving behind your centerline, chances are that you are literally just swinging the kettlebell like a pendulum between your legs. This could conceivably build some hook grip/forearm conditioning, but there is no way you’re improving your core strength like you should be with the Swing. Move those hips and explode forward!
Tip 2 – No Leaning at the Top of the Swing!
I can’t emphasize this enough, the Kettlebell Swing is an explosive core strengthening exercise; with that said, you need to be activating your core during the drill! This is achieved at the top of each repetition as the kettlebell reaches the apex of the swing.
The hip snapping movement described in kettlebell swing tip one ends when the kettlebell reaches 45 degrees out from your body. What stops the hip motion is the flexing of your gluteus maximus and your abdominals. Doing this should force your body into a completely vertical position with good posture, fully engaging your core.
Tip 3 – The Kettlebell Will Guide You Down
The kettlebell should end up between your legs directly below your butt at the beginning and ending of a perfect Kettlebell Swing. Your arms should be locked out, hips behind your center line, knees slightly bent, and your spine should be neutral.
This position is impossible to achieve if you are falling with the kettlebell rather than letting the kettlebell fall by itself and allowing it to drag you down with it. If you start hinging at the hips the minute the kettlebell starts falling, the kettlebell will end up in between your knees, much lower than proper form dictates. Starting/ending from this point will make proper form impossible.
Tip 4 – Bend at the Hips, Not the Knees
There are several variations of the Kettlebell Swing, but the standard form of the exercise is a hinge at the hips, not a squat. If you aren’t feeling a stretch in your hamstrings as you perform each repetition (especially when you first start trying the Kettlebell Swing), you are probably bending at the knees and squatting rather than hinging at the hips and activating your posterior chain. Keep a tight core, straight back, and get your hips behind your centerline.
Tip 5 – Kettlebell Height is Determined By Your Hips
Some organizations have some very steadfast rules about how high the kettlebell should end up at the apex of the Swing exercise (primarily they say it should be at a completely parallel position to the ground), we only have guidelines instead. Ideally the kettlebell and your arms end up parallel to the ground, but the height of the Kettlebell Swing is really determined by how explosive you are with your hip snap.
If that hip snap only gets the kettlebell part way to a parallel position with the ground, so be it. Remember, trying to muscle through the movement by engaging your deltoids and upper body (essentially performing a front raise) is not the point of the exercise, explosive hip/core action is. Don’t sacrifice form to meet some “objective” that proper form dictates.
There you have it! If you must, watch some videos online and practice at home incorporating these key points to good form. They may seem strange at first, but as soon as you start performing reps, you’ll see how applicable they are to a Kettlebell Swing with proper form.