Master the Kettlebell Fundamentals
Tucson Strength Coach, Christian Kruszewski breaks down the kettlebell swing for you in the Youtube video above. The kettlebell can be one of the best exercises to add you your programming if you want to train posterior chain strength, increase power devolpment, and increase cardio vascular conditioning. The problem is many people have little to no instruction and execute the kettlebell swing inappropriately. Doing the kettlebell with crap form is a great way to hurt your back. People then say “kettlebells hurt my back”. Here are a few really important tips.
Kettlebell Swings are a hinge
Swings are a hinge at the hip joint, not a squat at the knees. Yes, the knees bend but not more than the hips. Practicing the hinge movement with out any weight. As you are practicing, you lower leg should not move as you bend your knees and push your glutes back. Start loading the movements by practicing deadlifts with the kettlebell. Once you really dial in the deadlift you can move on to adding the ballistic part of the movement.
Your setup is your first rep
Setting your swing up is crucial. If you are lazy with your set up the rest of the movement will go down hill fast. Set the kettlebell about 8-12 inches in front of your feet. Instead of just reaching for the bell. Set your feet hard into the ground. Your entire foot should be rooted into the ground. Start hinging your hips back and then reach for the bell. Once you reach for the bell, grip it and keep your lats engaged. You should feel solid in your feet and not feel like you are going to lose your balance. Swing backs are a great next progression. Practice hiking the bell back between your lets and then let the bell naturally swing back into the starting position. You should always hike the bell high . Your wrists should be hitting the bottom of your zipper line as you swing the bell back.
Practice Single Reps
Once you under stand the movement of the bell you can start doing a full swing. We like to start with Deadstop swings which is just sets of 1 swing. Practice getting into your stance and set up , then swing the bell back and drive the hips forward maximally contracting your glutes at the top. Allow the bell to then return back through your legs and let the bell then swing forward and set it back down. Then repeat. One thing to reiterate is to really practice full glute contraction at the top of the swing and full knee lockout. Fully engaged glutes, will protect your lower back from hyper extending. Once you have crisp reps you can start by doing sets of 5.
A few other things to consider
Choose a bell that is heavy enough to give you the appropriate feedback. If you go too light you won’t give your body the right stimulus. Going too heavy will cause you to compensate by using too much arm and lower back. Most men would be good to start with a 35-44lb kettlebell. And most women do well with 25-30lb kettlebell.
There are numerous different approaches to kettlebell training but keeping reps between 5 and 10 reps allows you to train power production and keep good form and technique. Doing 10 explosive swings will offer great benefits. Doing sets of 20 usually leads to increased fatigue and breakdown in form. Poor form leads to injury. If. you want to get more cardio in, you don’t need to do 20 swings. Do 10 swings, rest for 15-30 seconds and do another set. Doing that for 10 minutes will allow you get a solid training session in and not building up excessive amounts of fatigue which will lead to your form breaking down and increased risk of injury.