Killer Engine with the Kettlebell Swing

THE KETTLEBELL SWING

The kettlebell swing is a great exercise to build strength in the legs and core muscles. To perform the kettlebell swing, the athlete stands with feet about hip width apart while reaching down to grab the kettlebell off the ground. Once holding onto the kettlebell, the athlete pushes the kettlebell back between the legs and then throws his / her hips forward to swing the kettlebell to swing back up in front of the body while keeping the arms straight. The motion of the kettlebell should appear like an arc or rainbow motion from between the legs to in front (the Russian Kettlebell Swing) or straight above the head (the American Kettlebell Swing). Athletes should feel the back, butt, and hamstring muscles engaged during the movement.

Watch the video clip below for a full explanation of technique, tips and tricks for performing the movement with efficiency, as well as precautions for staying safe.

MOVEMENT BASICS:

  1. Set Up in Deadlift Position: Rather than standing far behind the kettlebell while it is on the ground, set up in more of a deadlift position with your body almost directly above the kettlebell as it sits on the ground. Feet should be equally spaced on either side of the kettlebell about the same distance as you use for a squat. As you reach down to grab the kettlebell, focus on keeping your back straight and your core tight while you stick your butt back. You should feel tension in the back of the legs, just as with a deadlift.
  2. Throw Hips Forward: To engage the swing, grab onto the kettlebell and push it back between your legs with your arms straight and torso still straight. Once the kettlebell swings backward, throw your hips forward to initiate the forward swing of the kettlebell up into the air. Remember that your legs are doing the work with this movement, so throwing your hips forward allows you to leverage the most strength from your leg muscles and generate an efficient kettlebell swing.
  3. Keep Torso Stable: As the kettlebell swings back between your legs, the momentum will try to drop your torso down over the kettlebell. Try to keep your torso stable throughout the movement by squeezing your butt and keeping your shoulders back while you tighten your core muscle. This will prevent arching or curving in the back as the kettlebell swings back down and will ensure you are properly engaging your leg muscles versus your arm muscles, which is the focus of the movement.
  4. Weight in the Heels: With the momentum of the kettlebell moving up and down, it is easy to allow yourself to tip forward and put your body weight into your toes. However, this creates instability for you as you perform the kettlebell swing. Keep the weight back in your heels and keep your feet flat to counteract the forward pull of the kettlebell swing.
  5. Variations: With the Russian kettlebell swing, you will swing the kettlebell from between your legs and raise it up to eye level while keeping your arms straight out in front of your body. The American variation of the kettlebell swing requires you to raise the kettlebell even higher until your arms are straight above your head. Normally people who are new to performing the movement, or those who struggle with shoulder mobility, will start with the Russian variation of the kettlebell swing. As your strength and mobility increase, you will find it easier to perform the American variation with the kettlebell fully overhead.

QUESTIONS: Ready to get started, or curious to learn more about how Fierce Play can help you meet your health and wellness goals? Contact us for more information. Also feel free to check out more of our videos series to learn how to perform the basics with solid form and efficiency.

METABOLIC CONDITIONING SERIES: Technique at Every Stage

Fierce Play’s Metabolic Conditioning Series focuses on proper technique, as well as tips & tricks, to master some of the foundational movements that will be integrated into many of the workouts you will perform. Start your next workout with the confidence and skills to do the movement safely and effectively.