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Stock Kettlebell Pics Suck: Kettlebell Swing

Bad Kettlebell Swing

The Kettlebell Swing exercise is easily the most widely used ballistic kettlebell movement. Even so, it’s always amazing to find the innovative ways that people (in this case fitness models) do it incorrectly. See if you can spot the five reasons this stock kettlebell picture is incorrect!

What’s Wrong with this Kettlebell Picture?

While there are several different ways to perform a Kettlebell Swing, this is not one of them. Maybe this fitness model was trying to perform a front raise with a kettlebell, but she is more likely ignorant of how the Kettlebell Swing is supposed to be performed. At this level of ignorance, she isn’t even Youtube-certified; she’s more like Google Image-certified.

Mistake #1: Neck Alignment

Keep your spine in line! Pretty easy cue that is not being followed here, clearly evidenced by the fact that her head is turned 90 degrees to the right with her chin tilted slightly up. Her face should be facing forward and she should be focusing on the fact that a ball of weight is flying in front of her (or would be if she was performing the exercise correctly).

Mistake #2: Shoulder Extension

Even though the fitness model has a weak spinal position and is obviously holding the weight in a static position as far from her body as possible, she is still extending her arms beyond her shoulder sockets. This is an extremely weak position. Her shoulders should be back and tucked, keeping them safe and secure.

Mistake #3: Kettlebell/Wrist/Grip Position

The most glaring error in the picture is the position of the kettlebell (and she looks happy about it!). During the Kettlebell Swing exercise, the kettlebell is explosively swung from between the legs, ideally reaching a height that is approximately equal to the height of your shoulders. At the top of the Kettlebell Swing, the kettlebell is weightless for a split second; at this point the handle should look like an extension of the hand and wrist, which in turn is an extension of the elbow and shoulder. The grip should be loose at this point. As you can see, she is forcefully gripping the kettlebell and her wrists are bent upwards to support the weight. The kettlebell is also dangling from her grip, showing that it is being held in a static position; something that can’t happen during a proper Kettlebell Swing.

Mistake #4: Core Tension

In the picture the fitness model has a slight lumbar extension (her lower back is bending slightly). She also has a little pooch in front, showing that she isn’t flexing her core. Stopping the explosive hip action at the bottom of the Kettlebell Swing requires that you flex your glutes and abdominal muscles simultaneously, creating a strong pillar that will support the rise and fall of the kettlebell.

Mistake #5: Foot/Leg Width

The fitness model has her feet in a narrow stance, meaning that she brought her legs together as she swung the kettlebell upwards (something that you may do if you were performing a Lateral Walking Kettlebell Swing), she pried her knees apart at the bottom of the rep to fit the kettlebell in between her legs (which is totally wrong), or she has no idea what she’s doing and performed a front raise, something that wouldn’t require her legs to be apart. Her legs should be slightly greater than shoulder width apart and her feet should pointed forward or slightly out.

Proper Kettlebell Swing Stance

Proper Kettlebell Swing Stance

This picture illustrates the proper position at the top of a Kettlebell Swing. There may be some argument about the shoulder/elbow/wrist alignment, but this is the position I prefer for my purposes.