7 Tips for a Better Kettlebell Swing
'The Swing is full of spirit like a karate punch' Kettlebells have stood the test of time because they are amazingly simple and effective tools for training strength and endurance.
At FFTAcademy we teach you to truly understand the fundamentals of this great tool and how it can improve your client’s strength, mobility, body composition and overall performance. The Kettlebell swing is the foundation and we must take time to get good at the basics before moving onto the sexy stuff. Unfortunately the basics of the swing are rarely done well but all it takes is some smart training and a basic appreciation of movement to improve technique and performance. So here are out 7 tips for a better swing. 1. Perfect the hip hinge. 'The hip hinge is the most powerful movement a human can do. Its the apex movement of an apex hunter!' Dan John.
If you cannot 'Hip-Hinge' then put the Kettlebell down!!
Being able to perform this movement is essential for a safe and effective KB Swing. Tilt at the hips and aim to keep your 'shoulder blades in your back pockets' as you lower your torso. Keep your lats engaged and tight and brace your abdominals. As your increase hip flexion allow for a 'soft bend' in your knee and keep your eyes focused on the 'horizon'. You can perform this simple 'Wall Drill'.
Stand a about 6-12 inches away from the wall with feet shoulder width apart and then tilt at the hip allowing your bum to reach for the wall. Allow a soft bend at the knee until your bum reaches back for the wall and feel your hamstrings FIRE up. Congratulations you are now one of the small percentage of people who can hip hinge correctly. 2. Perfect the hike start. Most swings are wrong before they start!! Every rep has to count for a safe and effective kettlebell swing.
'An ounce of correction is worth a pound of cure' Starting with the hike swing will allow efficient speed and positioning of the bell and will keep the hips and lats engaged as you start the swing. When done correctly you will then not lose energy from your swing and protect your spine.
Finish your swing the way your started it - in control! 3. The swing is not a squat. This is by far the biggest mistake we see in the Kettlebell Swing. The whole point of the swing is to generate power and acceleration from your hips and not your arms. In the swing the arms work on the negative and the hips on the positive.
A swing is a pull or hip hinge. If you are struggling to see the difference increase the weight until your arm strength becomes the common denominator and this way you will have to use your hips properly.
Notice the difference in angle femur and knee flexion along with back position. The swing is a dynamic hip hinge and not a dynamic squat. If you are struggling to feel or see the difference go back to your hip hinge (point 1) and look for that feeling of your hamstrings firing.
Remember the swing is a posterior chain exercise and the angle of the body should be between 45/90 degrees which is the optimal position to load the glutes and hamstrings. Squat – Maximal Hip Flexion Maximal Knee Flexion Hip Hinge – Maximal Hip Flexion Minimal Knee Flexion 4. Hit the Zipper! A teaching point we use a lot is Aim for the Zipper. This will ensure you are in control throughout the swing, you will maintain tension through your lats and you will also save you lower back! Aim to place the upper arms against the rib cage and forearms against the upper thighs. The kettlebell shoud remain above your knees as you hit the TRIANGLE.
Save your back and aim for your 'Zipper'
5. Selecting the correct weight. The Kbell should swing as high as your hips have accelerated it. If the bell is swinging higher than shoulder height then it is too light or you are using your arms.
Both need correcting!
Increasing the weight makes you use your hips correctly as the arms just become hooks on the bell. Relax the shoulder and create tension and the lats and abs and acclerate the bell from the triangle position using a dynamic hip hinge. When the weight is heavier you are more connected to the bell and the bell will project forward and back rather then become floppy. We dont want a floppy bell!
Dont be a panzy increase the weight.
KB drills will improve when you learn to create tension and allow the movement to do the work.
6. Release the brakes. As we have mentioned the kettlebell swing is a dynamic hip movement and is great at grooving felxion and extension patterns of the hip. BUT to get the most out of your swing you need to release the brakes. The majority of the population are restriced in their hips and dont activate theit glutes enough so before your KB session working on these basic drills that will help with your KB swing.
7. Finish Position – Crack the NUT! Once you have worked on the above you need to make sure you finish your swing correctly. You should have a strong finishing position almost as if you are perfoming a standing plank.
So tight abs and tight glutes. A great teaching point we use is CRACK THE NUT. That fires up the glutes and puts the breaks on before allowing the bell to natural float down before you pull into the zipper.
Its the last 15 dgrees of hip extension we fully activate the glutes so dont finish the swing to early and there is no need to over extend and put unwanted pressure on your lumbar. Bad :(
Nuts not cracked!
So there you have 7 quick tips for a better Kettlebell Swing.
The Kettbell Swing will make you a better person.
Will put hairs on your chest.
Give you the core strength of an Adonis.
And make you a general bad ass. When done correctly the Kettlebell Swing can impact every aspect of your training and lifestyle but please give it the respect it derserves. Take time to learn your craft.
Swing like a Silverback! If you would like to learn more about Kettlebell Training our next instructor course is on August 6th FFTAcademy Cardiff, Wales. Please get in touch for futher details at www.fftacademy.co.uk