The Kettlebell swing is one of the most common and foundational kettlebell movements. At its core, the swing is a hip hinge at higher speed, and utilizes momentum to lift the weight from the ground to hip height. It’s something that makes it greater for cardio. It’s also an excellent activity for training your glutes, your core, and strengthening your low back as it transmits load.
Why your glutes? Because your glutes are your hip extensors, and to come out of the bottom of the hinge, they must drive the pelvis forward and lift the trunk. Due to the Kettlebell swinging between the legs, one has to adopt a slightly wider stance, which reduces hamstring contribution, and also increases the work of the middle glute to stabilize.
Why do I recommend swings? I love swings because they train your glutes to engage, with core contraction, and train transmission of load from the arms to the larger muscles of the body. It's great for training speed, and faster movements, and like any proper lift, they are an excellent core strengthening exercise. They can be asymmetrical or symmetrical, which drives even more core control, and helps prepare for any rotation or wonky lifts you perform at home. The hip hinge is one of the most important motions of our lives; we bend at the hip, get up off the floor, all with muscles activated during our hip hinge. If it’s weak, then you’re going to be weak approaching just about anything else.
The most common mistakes I see with swings?
People make it a squat. Instead of hinging, they drive it all from their knees. The way to avoid this is to sit your hips back as you descend, and then imagine a pelvic thrust to get yourself back up,
People use their arms to hold the weight: the beauty of the swing is that it’s a momentum exercise, with the arms acting to allow force transmission from the bell to the body. The arms should be rigid, but not holding the weight, allowing it to rise and fall with the push of the hips.
Note: There are some variations where people do engage their arms to lift the weight fully over their head. This is not that swing.
People lean too far forward: There’s no need to go to Australia here or tuck your head between your legs.
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