by Kevin Warren:
Kettlebell Swings are one of the best all-purpose exercises available to athletes. They can improve power and explosiveness, level-up conditioning, and build a rock-solid posterior chain. Here are 3 tips to help you get the most out of them:
1. Start with the Kettlebell In Front
Starting the swing with the kettlebell directly between your legs or from standing often makes it tough to generate momentum and puts a ton of stress on the lower back. The proper starting position should be with the kettlebell on the ground, just in front of you. Setting up with the bell out in front allows you to sink into a strong neutral spine position, with your arms extended and hips back. From there, your first move is to pull the bell high between your legs, like you’re a center hiking it to a quarterback.
The kettlebell swing is a hip hinge, NOT a squat. Keep soft knees (slightly bent), but don’t bend them further as you move through the exercise. Instead, break at the hips- pushing them back and forth as you go. Don’t let the kettlebell sink below your knees. Doing so will put a ton of pressure on your lower back. Instead, keep it close to your groin, using your hips and posterior chain to explosively propel the kettlebell forward.
3. Finish Tall
The finished position for the kettlebell swing is a tall, vertical posture with glutes squeezed and core engaged. At the top end of the movement, the kettlebell should be “floating”- that is, you’re no longer forcing it upward with your arms and shoulders. The bell should only travel as high as your initial hip snap allows it to, not any further by using the upper body. Trying to force the weight up higher by hyperextending will only put unnecessary strain on your lower back.
About the Author: Kevin Warren is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Strength & Conditioning coach at Paradigm Training Center in Houston. He is also a nationally qualified NPC Physique Competitor and published fitness author.