“Kettle bells create a longer lever arm, which requires you to use more force to move an equal weight the same distance,” Brown says. This recruits more muscles, challenges inter- and intramuscular coordination, and generally delivers one hell of a burn.
But resistance is assistance, so going too light or too heavy can compromise technique — not to mention increase your risk of injury with the added momentum of most moves, Brown adds. The general rule of thumb is the more joints involved, the heavier the kettle bell weight you can use.
The dead lift is a multi joint move, so the average guy can probably handle 32 kg/70 lbs here to start, Brown says. Not only are your shoulders and abs working hard to keep you stable, but there’s more challenge to your grip since all the weight is in one hand.
“Most use a goblet squat solely as a mobility exercise — they get low and do a hip pry. “It teaches a powerful hip snap and can be a great bicep and PEC builder — but it’s difficult to master the clean unless you really have your swing dialed-in,” Lopez says.
Turkish Get-Up This move involves a lot more than just lying down and standing up with a weight overhead. “The get-up is known in most training circles as the perfect exercise because the whole move — all 14 steps — includes every possible human movement pattern,” Lopez explains.
Lopez actually makes clients ace all 14 steps while balancing their shoe on their fist before they’re allowed to try it with a kettle bell (you can opt for a two-pound dumbbell to save face at the gym). When you feel confident that you have the form down sans resistance, reach for a 12 kg/26 lb kettle bell.
Since form is so imperative here, Lopez says you shouldn’t move up a weight until you’re able to maintain perfect vertically with your arm, keep the elbow fully locked throughout all 14 steps, and feel comfortable going slow (most people rush due to discomfort). But because it doesn’t require swinging momentum or extension, a carry has a lower risk of injury than other kettle bell moves, which means you can go a bit heavier.
Grab a kettle bell that’s the equivalent of half your body weight to carry in each hand, Brown recommends. The kettle bell swing is an incredible exercise, but it's also quite polarizing, as strength coaches seem to either love it or hate it.
I've spoken to coaches in America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and I always get the same two opinions. “I love the kettle bell swing, it's a great tool for teaching proper hip movement and for conditioning the glutes and hamstrings.”
“The kettle bell swing sounds good in theory, but my athletes need heavier loads to induce adaptations. What the coaches with the latter opinion fail to realize is that the hip extension torque requirements of a lighter kettle bell swing can indeed match that of a heavier clean or snatch, due to the inherent arced motion of the kettle bell.
You must absorb eccentric loading and then reverse the kettle bell forward and upward, whereas in the case of the Olympic pulls you simply accelerate the barbell upward and then catch it up top. For this reason, the classic argument suggesting that power outputs of kettle bell swings can't match those of power cleans and snatches isn't accurate, but you must take into account the resultant (horizontal and vertical) data to realize this.
However, I agree with the premise that a 35-pound kettle bell won't do much for increasing a lineman's hip strength — heavier loads are indeed needed as they lead to greater force production, which is always important! I'm sure the ROC folks have scrutinized every last detail about the swing and have come up with the best possible way of teaching it.
And since I'm not RKC-certified, I'm not quite as qualified as those folks to discuss kettle bell swing form. A proper set up (sort of like a center hiking a football) is with high hips, a solid arch, and the kettle bell out in front of allow for proper “hiking” of the first rep.
The feet stay planted firmly on the ground — there's no rising onto the toes. On the way up, an explosive hip action characterized by a strong gluteal contraction raises the kettle upwards and the lifter shifts his weight backward a bit.
While the kettle bell is near the body, it stays close to the “privates” and never sinks below the knees. A neutral spine (no lumbar flexion at the bottom or hyper extension at the top of the movement) position is maintained with very slight anterior pelvic tilt at the bottom of the motion and very slight posterior pelvic tilt at the top.
The posterior pelvic tilt and glute contraction is maintained while the kettle bell travels upward and away from the body and is held until the kettle bell drops back down and returns near the body. There's no excessive contribution from the arms; for the most part the hips drive the kettle bell to its peak height, which is around shoulder-level.
A neutral neck position (no cervical hyper extension) is maintained throughout the movement. The goal isn't to learn how to use momentum and conserve energy — it's easy to figure out how to “cheat” during the swing.
Rather, the goal is to achieve a maximal glute contraction to drive the kettle bell forward and upward explosively while adhering to excellent technical form. They don't possess the motor control to stabilize the spine while moving solely around the hip joint.
With these clients, you must improve their movement patterns before loading them up, so patience is needed. These qualities exemplify most of the more complex components of the big lower body lifts.
Think about the typical cues used by coaches during squats and dead lifts: “Sit back,” “knees out,” “chest up,” “push through the heels,” “squeeze the glutes,” and “keep the neck in neutral.” Heavy Ass Kettle bell Swings (Has) — An Incredible Dead lift and Olympic Lift Assistance Exercise When an assistance lift works, you know it immediately.
But I know how to use my glutes properly (from 6 years of hip thrusting) and therefore I fire them like crazy during the swing. I've found that it's easy to swing 70 pounds with perfect form, but when you go heavier, it's a different story.
Eventually I'll make the 203-pounder look right, but in the meantime it still provides an amazing training stimulus. I'm not nearly as eloquent as Marianne, but nevertheless I've found that the transfer to dead lifting is incredible as long as you go heavy.
Best still, heavy swings don't destroy the body like maximal dead lifts do, so you can train them more frequently. In fact, you can put dead lifts on the back burner for a while and maintain your strength by doing heavy ass swings 2-3 times per week.
Inherent Ground Reaction Forces Involved in 2 Styles of Kettle bell Swings When I was in Auckland, New Zealand, I conducted a minor experiment. Styled (lbs)Peak Vertical Force (N)Peak Horizontal Force (N)Squat Style702,170-2,349166-182Squat Style1402,431-2,444278-353Hip Hinge Style701,935-2,140340-402Hip Hinge Style1402,325-2,550499-520 Heavy Hip Dominant Swings, Horizontal Force Production, and Sprint Speed As you can see by the chart, the hip-hinge style swing generates much more horizontal forces than the squat style swing due to the more aggressive hip action.
Elite sprinters are able to generate large amounts of net horizontal force at high velocities, and faster speeds are all about the hips, so it's logical to assume that rapid, forceful kettle bell swings done in an Restyle fashion would help sprinters attain greater speeds. In fact, the 140-pound swing (I needed to hold onto two 70-pounders to use this load) leads to similar levels of horizontal force than those seen during maximal sprinting by elite sprinters.
Two excellent studies have been published on muscle activation during the kettle bell swing. I wish Stu would've reported the compressive and shear forces on the spine during Pavel's swings as this would be interesting to know.
The average spinal loading was reported for the other participants and values were very high considering the weight of the kettle bells. One good thing I've noticed over the last year is that we're seeing a huge influx of kettle bell studies in the literature.
Interestingly, a recent study published ahead of print by Lake & Lauder used up to 70 pounds and this is one of the best studies I've seen to date (it showed that swings elicited a greater impulse than squats or jump squats), but this is the exception, not the norm. I want to see training studies using heavy -ass kettle bells to see their transference to athletic performance.
I realize that lighter kettle bells are common because people want to clean them, snatch them, press them, and do Turkish get-ups with them. And initially, lighter kettle bell loads are warranted in the swing.
However, as athletes and clients advance in kettle bell swings, you must progress them in load. I know most gyms and athletic facilities don't carry heavy -ass kettle bells, so I'm calling for action here!
(8) It's actually a quote from two legends in our field, Yuri Verkoshansky and Mel Sight. The pelvis plays a vital role in the ability of the athlete to produce strength efficiently and safely, because it is the major link between the spinal column and the lower extremities a neutral pelvic tilt offers the least stressful position for sitting, standing and walking.
It is only when a load (or body mass) is lifted or resisted those other types of pelvic tilt become necessary. Even then, only sufficient tilt is used to prevent excessive spinal flexion or extension The posterior pelvic tilt is the appropriate pelvic rotation for sit-ups or lifting objects above waist level.
Nevertheless, if you do experience pain or discomfort in the swing, make sure you swivel at the hips and keep the core and glutes tight. One interesting gem I learned from Stu in a recent lecture was that the very top portion of the swing, where the kettle bell reaches its apex, poses the greatest risk to the spine.
(9) At this moment, the core musculature relaxes and therefore compressive force diminishes. Heavy Swings A Permanent Replacement for Dynamic Effort Dead lifts?
And third, there's a greater acceleration phase with the swing as it's really a ballistic movement; by law the dynamic dead lift must decelerate to come to a halt. In fact, I like the heavy swing better than the Olympic lifts and jump squats for football players — it's simpler to teach and easier on the joints.
Down the road I'd like to see college football and NFL teams taking heavy swings seriously. My 106-pounder is from APOLLO, which I bought at a local fitness store, and my 203-pounder is from Adler, which I found on eBay.
If you have the money, you should definitely go this route and buy the actual heavy kettle bells as they simply feel the best, but the Hungarian Core Blaster works very well too, as does the KettleClamp. And with that, I shall wrap up this article that's ostensibly every damn thing you wanted to know about heavykettlebell swinging.
I hope you decide to take my advice and start implementing heavy swings, if so you'll thank me down the road. Morin JB, Édouard P, Amino P. Technical ability of force application as a determinant factor of sprint performance.
Zebus MK, Scott J, Andersen CH, Mortensen P, Petersen MH, Visor TC, Jensen TL, Hence J, Andersen LL. Lake JP, Lauder MA.
Contreras, B. Olympic Weightlifting vs. Kettle bells on Lower Body Strength and Power. (I received an advanced copy) McGill S and Lebanon C. From the Lab to the Trenches.
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Ignore stupid rules and follow these twelve steps instead. With apologies to CrossFit, the Marines, and even NASA, there are some exercises that are just plain dumb.
You should be able to pass these tests before you hit the bench, squat, do direct arm work, or add more ab exercises. Do you think the kettle bell swing is just a cardio exercise and should only be done with light weight?
The fact is, when performed correctly, they're identical except for the position of the weight. The Kettle bell Swing At the bottom of the movement, the shins are near vertical, the spine is long, and the shoulders are set down and back.
At the top, hips and knees extend and you're standing upright. As for the movement in action, the kettle bell swing is decidedly simple: explode from bottom position to top position — simple as that.
The really cool part about the heavy swing is that you not only get the same benefits as the dead lift, but you also get a killer eccentric and true plyometric action at the bottom of the swing. The problem with swings is the stigma associated with them in the general population.
Strong people think they're a waste of time, more appropriate for a boot camp class. God forbid you do a swing where the angle between your thighs and trunk isn't exactly 90 degrees.
Max Shank has cultivated a unique and extremely effective brand of health and athleticism, which has made him a sought-after international presenter. Max owns Ambition Athletics, located in Tendinitis, CA.