Ladies and Gentlemans, I humbly present the best exercise in the world. Ever. Since the last one!
The kettlebell swing
The swing is, like so many of the great exericses, simple to learn, but brutally effective. It is an explosive hip hinge movement, one of the 5 classes of movements we should all be competent in (the others being the squat, the push, the pull and the carry). Unfortunately it is the one most likely to be forgotten.
The hinge is the deadlift and glute bridge variations and jumping. More often than not it should be explosive but a heavy deadlift might slow you a little. The swing is very much a controlled but explosive movement, with a tight solid hinge position and an explosive hip snap propelling the KB up to around chest height.
The basic movement
The hinge is all about the hips, not the low back. Movement is through the point where the top of your thigh connects into the hip socket, not through bending forward through your low back.
The top pic shows the correct hinging position and the bottom pic shows what often happens, leading to low back ouchies.
When performing a hinge movement:
- your weight should transfer slightly towards your heels
- you should push your butt back and keep it relatively high, and
- your torso should remain in a neutral position (no excessive curvature anywhere)
The swing should start with the Kettlebell on the floor (you can start of with the KB in your hands- see this video), I sometimes have clients start this way but the floor start is the preferred option), slightly ahead of your feet. Reach down to grab it and flatten your back, push your butt back and slightly shift your weight to your heels. Then, “snap” the KB back between your legs and then reverse the movement by driving your hips forward. The momentum lifts the KB forward and up, it is not a front raise. Your shoulders and arms are just connecting rods to hold the KB!
On the way down, let gravity take over for a while, the Kettlebell dropping back down along its path. Be brave. Play chicken with the bell and at the last moment, your hips go back and you hinge out of the way of the 20+kgs of steel flying towards your crotch. The finishing position is with your wrists as far up between your thighs as decently possible, back flat and tight and just enough knee bend to allow it to happen.