If performed with the right technique the kettlebell swing can be a great exercise for…..

  • Conditioning/weight loss/fat loss: (nothing gets your heart rate up like swinging for time/reps)
  • Strength(posterior chain: hamstrings, glutes, back)
  • Power development and sports performance

Some tips for performing the kettlebell swing are……..

Safety first: You must be able to perform a  proper deadlift with the kettlebell before performing a dynamic movement such as the kettlebell swing. Deadlifting the kettlebell is the position you will always be in when picking up the kettlebell. Most back injuries do not occur from picking up heavy weight as opposed to lighter weight since individuals tend to slouch on technique.  Emphasis should be placed on sitting back into a position with a neutral head position and most importantly keeping a flat back (does not mean vertical). You grab a hold of the kettlebell with most of your weight on your heels(not all). Keep the same upper body postion as your hips and legs lift the kettlebell with a focus on finishing with your glutes. Do not lean back as this puts pressure on your lower back.

Once you are able to complete the deadlift with the proper technique you are ready to move on to the two hand swing. Some coaching cues and reminders to remember are……..

Starting position: kettlebell on the ground in front of you with your knees bent and your weight centered towards your heels with the back flat position mentioned above.

Enough tension to grip but have loose arms. The kettlebell swing is a hip thrusting movement as opposed to using your arms.

The kettlebell swing should focus on the downward swing and is an aggressive movement. Have you seen a great jumper go slow on the way down? Be aggressive on the way down while finding your rhythm with the kettlebell. The kettlebell should remain close to your body with forearm area touching your body while the upper body is close to being parallel to the floor.

Remember the arms are just hooks for the kettlebell swing. When you reach the bottom position above a  rapid redirection with the hips(think jumping while keeping your feet on the floor) will bring the kettlebell up.  Focus on standing tall and finishing with your glutes.

The movement is complete, but remember to find your rhythm for the desired amount of reps. Swinging for more reps and a longer time will improve conditioning. A heavier kettlebell for lower reps will improve strength and power development (vertical jumping ability). Have patience while learning this movement. There is a reason there are courses and certifications just for the kettlebell. It is a great movement that will bring you closer to your fitness goals when part of a well designed program. Check out the Perform Better link to the right for a wide variety of kettlebells. These make for a great addition to your home gym as they take up minimal space and will allow you to get stronger, develop power, and improve your conditioning levels.

Detric Smith,CSCS,USAW,ACSM-HFI is the owner of Results Performance Training LLC in Williamsburg, VA. He can be reached for personal training services geared towards weight loss and sports performance through his site www.resultsperformancetraining.com