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How To Do Proper Kettlebell Swings

author
Maria Garcia
• Tuesday, 15 December, 2020
• 8 min read

Let Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. Before you pick up a weight and start waving it around, take note that it's extremely important to pay attention the movement here.

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Contents

If you do those things right (and because we increasingly sit so much, we occasionally do it wrong), you’re squeezing your glutes and your lower body is driving your ability to stand up. This action is crucial to moving and standing correctly, and critical to improving your athleticism (and your squat and dead lift movements).

This doesn’t just miss the point of a kettle bell swing (hip extension) but it’s dangerous for your shoulders, too. You end up trying to finish the swing with your shoulders, placing your rotator cuff tendons in a compromised position.

The height of the kettle bell is strictly a function of how aggressively you straighten your legs and squeeze your glutes. Problem two: if your shoulder mobility isn’t ideal; you'll compensate by arching through the lower back.

You absolutely must maintain the stiffness through your torso over the life of your swing set. Ex says: This is a lower body move, and your arms shouldn’t be anything more than a lever for the bell.

If you explosively and powerfully stand up, and really exaggerate that glute squeeze, your torso will naturally pop up and the bell will translate forward. Ex says: Critical in the kettle bell swing is not letting your lower back drive the movement.

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If you’re having trouble getting that response, think of actively squeezing your glutes to drive the bell. Brett Williams, NASA Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.

KettlebellSwings were once exclusively performed by athletes in the Soviet Union. Now you'd be hard-pressed to walk through a gym and not see at least one person doing this incredibly versatile exercise.

You need to master several Kettle bell Swing form tips to get the most out of this fantastic exercise. Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a kettle bell about a foot in front of you on the ground.

Your palms should be facing your body, and your torso should be nearly parallel to the ground. Step 2: Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core before starting the exercise.

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Step 4: Forcefully drive your hips forward to propel the kettle bell into the air. Step 6: On your final rep, allow it to swing back through your legs, and then place it a foot in front of you on the ground.

A loose core makes for a sloppy Kettle bell Swing and puts stress on your spine. Imagine that your upper body is in a plank position with your torso hinging on your hips.

This keeps your spine in the proper position and makes your glutes, not your lower back, do the majority of work. We advise athletes to avoid this variation, as it places extra stress on the shoulders and spine.

The rhythmic nature of the Kettle bell Swing makes it a wonderful move for improving your breathing technique. Take a deep diaphragmatic breath (through your stomach) as the kettle bell lowers, and exhale fully during the swing.

The primary muscles worked in the Kettle bell Swing are the glutes and the hamstrings. They explosively extend the hips and drive them forward, creating the power needed to swing the kettle bell.

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Your quads extend your knees to provide an extra power boost. Your core and back muscles engage to keep your torso stable and your spine in a neutral position.

These muscles also help decelerate the kettle bell during the downswing, while maintaining control of your body. The hip hinge is a fundamental movement pattern that all athletes should perfect.

It's important for athletic skills like jumping, and for exercises like the Dead lift and Squat. This allows your strong and powerful glutes to maximally contribute to the movement, while keeping your lower back safe.

Since the Kettle bell Swing is a full-body movement, it's a great option for conditioning and training muscular endurance. According to an ACE Fitness study, a Kettle bell Snatch workout, which is similar to the Swing, burns approximately 20 calories per minute.

However, the focus of the exercise is on the hip hinge, which is driven by the glutes and hamstrings. You will use lighter weight than the traditional Swing, but the single-arm variation is more challenging for your core.

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Once you perfect your form, gradually increase the weight so your muscles feel challenged in your set. With that common misconception out of the way, let’s clear up another, because it’s not just the name of this old school-turned-trendy exercise tool that trips people up.

Kettle bell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength. If that sounds too good to be true, maybe it’s because you’ve never swung a kettle bell with pinpoint precision.

With this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn to use your legs (and hips, glutes, and core) to perform the perfect kettle bell swing. As it turns out, dancing the salsa and swinging a kettle bell have a lot in common.

But they do share a coaching cue that makes every movement possible: It’s all in the hips. When it comes to the kettle bell swing, the hip action we’re referring to is a hinging motion.

Keep arms long and loose while squeezing shoulders blades together and engaging your core. Soften knees, shift body weight into heels, and lower butt back and down toward the wall behind you.

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Driving through heels, explode through hips to send weight swinging upward from quads. Achieving this finish position requires you to snap your hips through, contracting your core while squeezing glutes.

As the kettle bell begins to descend, let the weight do the work as you ready your body for the next rep. Shift weight back into heels while hinging at the hips and loading both the hamstrings and glutes.

Receive the weight, allowing the kettle bell to ride back between legs. As it makes the transition from backward to forward, drive through the heels and hips to repeat.

There’s nothing like an arms race to create animosity among nations (or in this case, coaches and their respective exercise communities). Instead of stopping at eye level, the American swing finishes with the arms and kettle bell overhead.

Our expert Chris Finn, certified personal trainer at Life Time at Sky and Strongest level-two kettle bell instructor, never recommends the American swing due to the risk of injury to your shoulders. That said, the decision on where to pledge your allegiance should be based on personal ability level and safety.

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Sources
1 www.stack.com - https://www.stack.com/a/proper-kettlebell-swing-form-a-step-by-step-guide
2 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/5-key-points-to-performing-the-kettlebell-swing-with-proper-form/
3 www.ericleija.com - https://www.ericleija.com/how-to-the-proper-kettlebell-swing/