04 Dec How To Do The Kettlebell Swing: A Step By Step Guide
A properly performed swing is a synchronization of muscle activity and athletic performance.
To execute a swing is a brilliant pattern of neuromuscular programming for dramatic results.
I would argue that only the turkish get up or kettlebell snatch may be as effective for total body strengthening and conditioning as the kettlebell swing.
If there is a king of exercises, it may be the kettlebell swing for a wide variety of benefits.
What seems like an easy to exercise to learn is actually very challenging to perform the right way.
Yes, there’s a difference between just swinging a kettlebell and performing a swing. Trust me, you want to learn how to “perform” a swing.
To be very blunt, it’s absolutely critical for you to get this right for maximum effectiveness and safety.
In this article, I’ll provide the “how to” for performing a proper kettlebell swing.
My big recommendation, however, is to find a qualified trainer and learn first hand from live instruction.
Nothing beats a few sessions of “hands on” interaction, but online coaching can be a good option as well to get feedback from a trained eye.
The swing is the foundation of all kettlebell exercises and it’s essential that you get it right for total body conditioning, developing a powerful body, and to shed fat like you wouldn’t believe.
Here’s the step by step guide to an effective kettlebell swing.
1. Plant your feet about shoulder width apart with toes pointed slightly out.
You’ll want to be in bare feet or flat soled shoes with no support.
The reason is you want a stable base of support for proper mechanics of the exercise.
A cushioned running shoe will make it unstable and unsafe, so make sure you have the right shoes or no shoes at all.
2. Place the kettlebell in front of you, grab the handle with both hands while bending at the hips with the spine flat and in neutral position.
The knees are slightly bent.
3. To initiate the movement, hike the kettlebell back quickly and allow your inner forearms to come into contact with your inner thighs (keep the kettllebell high, do not allow it to drop below your knees as your hiking it back as this will stress your back).
4. Keep your heals planted firmly on the ground.
5. To initiate the kettlebell forward, power your hips forward while keeping the back flat and ‘hip hinging‘ through to propel the kettlebell.
This is a fast, explosive move.
6. The arms are straight throughout the swing and the shoulders are ‘packed’ in the shoulder joints (meaning they are not loose).
The arms are merely “along for the ride” and are not elevating the kettlebell.
The height of the kettlebell should be to about shoulder height or less in the Russian style kettlebell swing.
The height is really irrelevant, since the kettlebell is being propelled forward by your hip and body power, not your arms.
This is very important to understand.
7. The knees extend (or straighten) as you propel the kettlebell forward. You will straighten your legs and power your hips to bring the kettlebell forward.
8. It is very important to note that your spine stays straight or neutral throughout the entire kettlebell swing.
This will ensure safe biomechanics with the exercise and will help you build an incredibly strong and powerful back.
9. Proper breathing is essential.
You will “power breath” throughout the kettlebell swing, inhaling as you are hiking the kettlebell back through your legs and exhaling as you are powering the kettlebell forward.
A big exhale or power breath will help to power the movement, stabilize your abs, and be safe throughout the movement.
10. Your abs and glutes should be contracted as the kettlebell comes forward at the top of the swing.
Again, the kettlbell should be about parallel to the floor and there should be a straight line from the kettlbell to your shoulder.
There is no need to take the kettlebell higher than shoulder height in the Russian Kettlebell training method.
It’s worth repeating, the arms do nothing and are “along for the ride.”
But, it is the arm motion that helps to elevate your heart rate providing an exceptional cardiovascular training experience.
These are the key components of the kettlebell swing.
To see a video demo with more tips, click here.
By learning how to perform this exercise correctly, you’ll be taking a major step in getting your kettlebell fundamentals down and I can guarantee the results will blow you away.
One more thing.
There’s a great demonstration of the power of the kettlebell swing with a great success story by Tracy Reifkind.
In case you don’t know who she is, she lost over 100 pounds by performing kettlebell swings just twice per week for an average of 15-20 minutes combined with a walking program and nutritional changes, of course.
The kettlebell swing is very powerful and the results can be very significant, like Tracy’s case.
My advice is the learn how to do this exercise the right way and take your results to new levels.
Learn how to perform the kettlebell swing not just swing a kettlebell.
To get full video instruction on this exercise and more, check out the Kettlebells For Beginners.