The swing is a staple in our programming. There may be workouts where we do hundreds of them in one session. The swing is one of the best movements to create cardiovascular improvement. It also builds a great “back side”.
When we opened back in 2009, kettlebells were often villainized with messaging they’ll hurt your back. When used properly, I don’t believe there is a statement that could be any further from the truth. However, when used incorrectly you can get hurt. That’s why it’s important to treat them with respect at all times, and to learn from a properly trained instructor.
Beginners often focus on the swing movement itself and forget about starting and finishing the movement safely. One common fault is bending at the waist with a rounded back to pick the kettlebell up. Once standing with the kettlebell they hinge at the hip (with a slightly rounded back to create momentum) to begin the swing. Bending at the waist with a rounded back when handling weight will lead to injury at some point if not corrected. Let’s talk about the set up.
Setup: A safe setup means you will be treating the kettlebell with respect. Starting the swing properly, will protect your back and keep you swinging for a long time.
- Start with the kettlebell about a foot in front of your toes.
- Hinge your hips while keeping your back flat.
- Grasp the kettlebell with both hands
- Pretend to break the kettlebell handle (this will engage the lats)
- Without standing up, “hike” the kettlebell back between the legs using your lats
- Stand up, tightening your abs, glutes and quads at the top of the swing
Now that you’re off and swinging, let’s talk about the safe way to finish the movement. A very common fault is to let the last swing go back between the legs, and then as it comes forward bend at the back to set the kettlebell down. Again, a rounded back will lead to disaster. Who wants to hurt their back setting a kettlebell down after a long grueling swing workout??? Not I! Let’s look at the finish.
Finish: A safe finish again means you will be treating the kettlebell with respect. Finishing the swing properly will protect your back and keep you swinging for a long time.
- On your last swing hinge your hips back
- Without losing the hip hinge, keep your back flat and let the kettlebell come forward
- Keep the hinge position and set the kettlebell down when it’s about a foot in front of your toes.
- The finish position should look just like the setup position described above.
Treat the kettlebell with respect and it will help you develop strength and endurance! Practice the setup and finish properly until it becomes automatic.