My eyes bleed when I walk into a commercial gym for many, many, many reasons. But one that stands out more than most lately is the complete butchering of one of my favorite exercises, the kettlebell swing. Most people have the greatest of intentions – the swing looks like a fun alternative to the treadmill. Let me try it! Then they tweak their back or knee. Then they tell all friends how dangerous lifting weights are. Which brings me to this post. Hopefully it can clear up some of the lesser coached points and save someone a trip to the doctor’s office.
Average gym-goer’s chain of events for learning the swing:
- “I want to learn how to do that swing thing with that kettle ball!”
- *Google searches “kettlebell”, Jillian Michaels pops up*
- “I trust Jillian, SHE IS ON TV!!!”
- Instant FAIL
Mistake # 1 – Poor Hip Hinge
Almost every single exercise starts with a fundamental moving pattern – press, pull, squat or hinge. Always start with the basics. Groove your hinge! The swing isn’t a squat. The bell must swing in a long arc to maximize fluidity and to make sure you’re getting the most out of the glutes and hamstrings. Your knees will also be glad you read this blog post.
A good hinge should:
- have slight knee bend
- no bending of the back
- ribcage down
- movement is done at the hips – you should feel a hamstring stretch
- “butt (hips) back”
- “weight on your heels”
- “sit back”
- Imagine there is a rope tied around your waist and someone is pulling you back
- Pretend you are standing with your back towards the wall, and you are trying to tap the wall with your butt
Mistake # 2 – Dropping the Bell Too Low
Aim for the baby maker. I am not kidding. Dropping the bell too low causes the swing to resemble a squat. That is incorrect for two reasons:
- Squatting the bell places more torque on the knees
- Squatting the bell disrupts the arc rhythm and timing
- “hit your groin”
- Do your swings with a loaded barbell against your shins. Don’t hit the barbell with the kettlebell
Mistake #3 – Breaking The Hips Too Early
So far, you grooved the hinge, and now own a tighter, more fluid swing motion. But you still feel something is off. That’s because you are losing a ton of power by pushing your butt back before the bell has gotten close enough.
- “catch the bell with your hips”
- “absorb the force of the bell with your hips”
Here’s what it should look like- A Video Tutorial
Give these tips a shot, and you’ll be doing more swings in less time.
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