GET TO KNOW THE KETTLEBELL SWING

By: Geraldine Zapanta, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Kettlebell Athletics Level 1 Instructor, TRX           Posted on: 07.08.2016

If you look around your local YMCA Wellness floor, I’m sure you’ve noticed the bell shaped tool of various weights with handles on top of them. These are Kettlebells which originated from Russia and recently gained popularity in the US. The most well-known movement performed with the Kettlebell is the kettlebell swing which is a potent movement that works your posterior chain, core, stamina and strengthens your heart. It helps improve your cardiorespiratory capacity, strength power and endurance. Interested? Well, it’s important to know how to do this exercise correctly, so I put together a quick study guide for you.

HOW TO PERFORM RUSSIAN KETTLEBELL SWING

 

The HINGE

Setup 1

  1. The Kettlebell Swing is not a squat with an arm raise. It is a “hinge” based movement, whereby the power created by the “snapping” motion of your hips and glutes raise the kettlebell and your arms up, your hands merely guiding the bell’s path.
  2. To perform a hinge, think of the deadlift exercise. You will have a slight soft bend in the knees, glutes pushed up and back. Hips higher than your knees. You should feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Try practicing a squat jump to get a feel for this “hinge to standing plan” movement. With knees slightly bent, arms by your side, load your hamstrings and jump up with force.

The SET UP

setup 3

  1. Place the bell at arms length in front of you. Stand tall with feet hip width apart. Make an L shape with you left hand and again with your right hand. Combine both L’s together – this is the distance needed at the top of your thighs to clear the kettlebell when you hike it back.
  2. Hinge/Fold at the hips. Your knees will have a slight bend. You should feel your hamstrings working and your hips should be above your knees. Keep the chest up, gaze resting in front of you. Reach for the kettlebell.

The HIKE

hike

  1. Inhale and hike the kettlebell in between your legs. Aim for the groin area. Make sure your hands come together and touch the inside of your top thighs, above your knees.

The SNAP

snap 1

  1. Once the kettlebell is hiked back and your hamstrings are loaded, squeeze your glutes, exhale and snap your hips so that you end up in a tall standing plank position. The power created by your snap will float the kettlebell up to chest height, guided by your hand. As the kettlebell reaches its top height, you should feel a momentary weightlessness to it.
  2. With your hands, guide the kettlebell back between your legs for your next rep.

Now that you have mastered the move, add it to your current workout at the end as a finisher. It will act as a nice conditioning piece to top off your workout and keep you burning calories even longer.

Sample:

  • 2 handed swings – 20 seconds work : 20 seconds rest x 5-10 minutes
  • 10 x 2 handed swings + 10 burpees x 10 sets

A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER:

  1. Hinge, don’t squat. Remember this movement is not a squat, it is a hip hinge movement. Send your hips back, keep the knees slightly bent (not fully, like a squat).
  2. The explosiveness of this movement is generated from your hips and not your hands. The hips power throws the kettlebell up and the arms are just there holding onto the kettlebell.
  3. Protect your back when swinging. Pull your shoulders back and down to engage your Lats which will keep both your upper and lower back tight.
  4. Make sure the kettlebell passes between your legs and upper thighs. If your hands or forearms are touching your lower thighs, you will be putting a lot of strain on your lower back.

Happy Swinging!

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