The kettle bell swing is a great exercise for improving hip strength and power along with overall strength and conditioning. It is a dynamic exercise that requires good movement foundations and we see a lot of people performing it with incorrect technique. Due to the dynamic nature of the exercise (i.e. you are swinging a heavy object), this can lead to injury, particularly in the lower back.
Check out the following progressions to help you improve your kettle bell swing and if all else fails, ask your coach what’s going on.
Bench Squat with Hip Snap
To start with we are going to focus on the hip snap using a bench squat.
* Start by standing with feet hip width apart.
* Squat down onto the bench
* Then stand up aggressively and snap your hips at the top.
* Focus on tensing up you quads, glutes and abs at the top of the movement.
The hips snap is the most important part of the kettlebell swing so make sure you practice!
Reach Through with Hip Snap
The next part of in the kettlebell series is the reach through with the hip snap.
Same as with the previous exercise, you are going to use a bench as a guide.
* Have your feet between hip and shoulder with apart.
* Shift your hips back with soft knees.
* Focus on keeping the back in a neutral position the whole time.
* Reach between your legs and touch the bench
* Then drive your heels into the ground and snap your hips
* At the top your quads, glutes, and abs should all be engaged.
* Think full body movement
The main take away is to keep the hip snap aggressive and the spine neutral.
Try by doing 10-15reps 3-4 times to really get the movement pattern.
Light KB Swing-Movement Pattern
The next step is a continuation from the previous exercise and is all about engraining the correct movement pattern with a little bit of resistance.
* Start by using a light kettlebell say 8kg.
* Hold the kettlebell in two hands, then to initiate the movement push the kettlebell off using your leg, this will just give it a little bit of height so you can let the kettlebell fall.
* As the kettlebell falls let the hips drift back while keeping the spine neutral.
* Make sure you keep your hands close to your groin and don’t let your hands drift down towards the ground as the kettlebell falls
* Then drive the heels into the ground and snap your hips at the top.
Let your hips do all the work, DON’T try and use your arms to lift the weight.
Let gravity do its thing as the kettlebell falls. Use your hip drive to get the kettlebell to drive up.
Really practice this movement as this is the fundamental movement of the kettlebell.
Speed Of Movement
The last exercises have been about getting the positioning and movement pattern correct. Once we are comfortable and confident with this then we can now shift our focus to the speed of the movement.
The kettlebell swing is a dynamic movement and should be treated so. It is next to impossible to do a kettlebell swing slowly.
Most issues/injuries that come from kettlebell swings are because either the person is using their upper body too much or they are not driving their hips fast enough.
The idea is to get the kettlebell moving through an arc fast on the way up (hip drive) and then let gravity bring the kettlebell down.
The key to getting that kettlebell moving is through an effective fast hip drive. There are two ways to increase the hip speed, one way is for you to consciously drive the hips faster. The problem with this method is that a lot of people never perform a dynamic hip drive so they don’t know how to drive their hips faster.
So the other way is to increase the load forcing the hips to drive faster and work harder to get the kettlebell moving.
As you increase the load of the kettlebell and increase the hip speed you will find more of the body is required to generate the force. Hence why a kettlebell swing is a full body movement and is very metabolically demanding.
Make sure your movement patten and positioning is right first, then focus on getting those hips moving faster!
Finally, we’ll look at the position of the body particularly at the bottom of the kettlebell swing.
If performed correctly the kettlebell, swing is a great way of building strength through the posterior chain including our erector spinae.
If performed incorrectly then it can potentially lead to injury.
There are two common reasons the back gets jacked up or worse still injured.
The first one is a slow hip extension or hip drive which we have spoken about in the previous videos.
The other is the positioning at the bottom of the swing and using the upper body too much.
Often we see people letting their shoulders go which means their shoulders round forward which increases the load through the lower back.
Alternatively they use their upper body too much and the traps get heavily involved which leads to the traps becoming over used.
At the bottom of the swing you want to think your shoulders are set back and down. They need to stay in this position throughout the whole swing regardless of whether it is at the top or the bottom of the swing.
This will also stop you from using your upper body to lift the kettlebell.
So think shoulders are set back and down and the spine stays neutral at all times.
Good Luck and as always, Be Consistent