Let’s get technical: Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing is a deep hinge movement, which is utilising hip as its hinge point.  This has real life applications to everyday activities.  Every single time you lift something from the ground you are carrying out a variation of a hinge pattern.  So simple day-to-day activities all of a sudden get a lot easier when you become more proficient at hinging.

The swing is a hip dominant movement, which predominantly recruit our posterior chain.  Our posterior chain has been attributed to being the most influential group of muscles in our body by many coaches over the years.  Your prime movers in the posterior chain are your glutes and hamstrings, but in all bending patterns there is a hell of a lot more muscles working hard isometrically to maintain a strong posture.  Some research has actually shown that during your big hip and knee dominant movements, your core activation and stability during these exercises are a lot greater than all core focused exercises are on their own.

The prime mover of forward propulsion comes from your posterior chain, jumping, running and even just standing up wouldn’t happen without it, so when you think of it in that light, we all need to be deadlifting.  Unfortunately due to most people sitting on their bums all day and not bending in the gym enough, we are all becoming more anterior chain dominant (quads), so there is even more reason to be bending.  And from my sports coaching background, building a strong hip extension is necessary in pretty much all sports which aids to a greater performing elite athlete, so guess what, they all bend if they like it or not.

The big thing with deadlifts is getting that posture right.  Get it right and you’ll be plain sailing, get it wrong and you could do yourself an injury.  If you’re unsure find someone to checkout your tekkers, it’s not hard to fix.

Ok so just incase you’re still not convinced that it is a good idea here’s some more reasons why you should:

  • Strengthen everything from your hand grip to you calves
  • Promotes a healthy back and hips
  • Builds bone and muscle health and longevity
  • Strengthens your core
  • Can improve your speed, power and athleticism

The Swing

The swing is an explosive hip drive so technique is key, all to often people incorrectly use a lot of arms and miss the hip drive itself.  Big thing, relax and let the hips do the work.  think about pushing your bum back towards a wall behind you whilst maintaining a strong spinal posture.  You should find this sets you up into a deep hinge position.  From here the hips drive forwards aggressively to drive the bell forward, from here relax the arms and let the bell do the work.  Gravity will pull the bell back down so be patient and let the arms start descending before the bell forces you to hinge at the hip again.  This keeps the bell close and prevents any unnecessary shearing forces in the lumber spine.  Then repeat.

As a general rule you need to work against some weight so lighter bells aren’t always very advantages to learning a good swing.  Normally we set women up to learn swinging with a 16kg bell and men a 20kg, once the swing movement is good we move them up.  Working anywhere from 10-20 reps is a great place to start.  When you get comfortable with the swing there are many variations you can get your teeth into but you can never beat a basic simple heavy swing to fire you up.

Dan Cumberworth

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