The Kettlebell Swing is one of the best exercises you can do in your training.
That is when it’s done correctly.
Like the deadlift, the kettlebelll swing is one of the exercises that most people do wrong. It can be great for your lower back or it can be terrible for your lower back.
It’s not the exercise, but how you do the exercise that matters most.
The swing is like the deadlift, it’s all about technique.
I used to think kettlebell swings was one of the worst exercises, for a while I didn’t even allow them to be used at my gym.
Then I was TAUGHT & COACHED the exercise from the best in the world Dan John & Pavel at SFG.
Learning to swing properly has changed my own training and my coaching completely.
Kettlebells and swings used to hurt my back, now they work wonders for my back.
I use swings in pretty much every program I coach now.
If your an athlete you will do swings.
If your a bikini girl that I coach you will do swings…swings..swings..and more swings, you will do swings in your sleep I love them that much.
Dr. Stuart McGill found kettlebell swings show a reversed polarity of posterior shear at L4 and L5 when compared to traditional posterior chain exercises 1. I did a 2 day workshop with Dr. Stu McGill in Arizona and it was a game changer for me. Read more on my blog post “3 Big Lessons From Dr. Stu McGill“.
Swings are amazing for
– Fat Loss
– Building Explosive Power
– Improving Conditioning
– Improving Movement
– Improving Jumping
and MUCH more.
1. The Swing Is Not A Squat
Let’s be very clear, a swing is NOT a squat.
There is a kettlebell version of the swing called a “Swing Squat” but this is not what we are trying to accomplish in this exercise.
As you can see in this video this is me trying to swing before I was taught the swing.
I have to say I am beyond embarrassed of the above video of what I thought was a swing :).
This is me after attending SFG in Utah and learning to HINGE and use my hips the right way.
2.. Learn To Hinge
Learning how to “Hinge” is essential for proper movement, strength and keeping your lower back strong and healthy.
The hinge is where you push your hips back with a soft knee bend and load up your hips and posterior chain.
The Hip Hinge is essential for strength, power, proper movement and will make everything better in your training.
Check out my blog post with 3 kettlebell hip hinge variations HERE.
3. Fire With The Hips
“Good athletes use their legs, great athletes use their hips” – Stu McGill.
Learning to use your hips as a power source is key for strength and power and also any sports or athletics.
Most people in training will use their muscles like their quads and hamstrings, which is good, but learning to use your hips is key for developing maximal strength and power.
The hips are the most powerful thing in your body and using your hips will make everything better.
When you learn to use your hips and moving through a proper hinge you will take all pressure off the lower back which is a big issue with most people when they deadlift.
Learning to load up a proper hinge and firing with your hips is critical in a strong kettlebell swing.
4. The Lock
At the top of the kettlebell swing you want to focus on “The Lock”.
With the lock you want your hips locked and your lower back/spine in a neutral position. Your knees are locked and not over extended. Your quads are pulled tight and your focusing on pulling your shins up and having everyhting in a tight locked position at the top.
Your core should be braced and essentially at the top you are in a plank position.
The goal of the lock is to momentarily turn your body into stone and have everything get tight and braced for a split second.
5. Let The Bell Float
At the top of the kettlebell swing you want to turn to stone, but for a moment you should let the bell float.
This float time is your rest time during the swing.
The swing should be tight, fast and explosive but at the top for that split second when the bell is floating at hip or chest height is when you get a chance to recover.
6. Pull The Bell Down
Once you hit the lock position of the swing the next factor is to focus on not just letting gravity do its job but to focus on pulling the bar down between your legs. Be sure that you keep the bell above your knees and not let it get to low or this will start taking a toll on your lower back.
The key is to pull the bell down and back between your legs and over speed it faster than gravity. This will then load up your hips and posterior chain which sets up the swing perfectly to fire again.
7. Breathing During The Swing
Proper breathing during the swing is important for a proper swing, but also to maintain the swing without “gassing out”.
Timed swings are one of the best conditioning drills and also very demanding mentally. The 5 minute kettlebell snatch test for SFG was one of the hardest tests of physical and mental stamina I have ever done in my life.
For breathing with the swing you want to exhale at the top of the swing and brace your core at the very top of the lock of the swing. As you fire the kettlebell down between your legs you want to inhale through your nose. it’s very important to practice the proper breathing during the kettlebell swing.
Practice, Practice Practice
When it comes to learning the swing it’s very important to practice your skills. Don’t use too much weight, don’t try to muscle the swing, practice the correct movement and learn the correct technique.
When it comes to learning the Kettlebell Swing no one does it better than StrongFirst and I highly suggest if possible you take their SFG Kettlebell Course and their SFL Lifter Barbell course. I am certified in both and it was one of the best certifications and experiences of my life
Learning to do a proper Kettlebell swing is one of the best things you can do.
Practice, train hard, train smart & stay strong.
For a great read on Kettlebell swings from Dr. Stu McGill on StrongFirst website click HERE.
One of the best swings at Heavyweights Training Center is my student Megan, check it out below.
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Rob King is a Competitive PowerLifter, Coach and Writer.