Kettlebell Swing – How To and How Not To

Posted: December 31, 2013 by dannytwoguns in Articles

Earlier today I posted this video on Facebook…

…with this status…

Three Big Lessons from this video… (well there are probably more but here are my three…)

#1 – When people say “doing something is always better than nothing,” this video shows that that isn’t true. You are certainly better off doing nothing or strolling away on the treadmill. Doing something that is both effective AND safe is better than doing nothing.

#2 – “Kettlebells are dangerous.” This obviously is not true. But when people see videos like this you can certainly see where they get that mindset from. Obviously doing something unsafe is dangerous and you can certainly be unsafe with a kettlebell but that goes for any implement essentially everything you do from running (sometimes it is just ugly) to squats (with any implement) to kettlebell swings. Doing things wrong is dangerous, no specific implement is dangerous.

#3 – Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they actually know anything. To quote Mike Boyle, “If it looks like shit and smells like shit, it is probably shit,” regardless of who it comes from.

I posted that as a lead in to this blogpost about the kettlebell swing. The status got quite a bit of attention so it worked well.

The kettlebell swing is a detailed exercise. It is safe, great for fat loss and a great option for “non-impact plyometrics” but it isn’t necessarily for the beginner and takes a bit of skill and a lot of practice.

A proper kettlebell swing has a few components…

– It is a hip hinge – hips go back, glutes and hamstrings “propel”/drive the hips forward
– Neutral/straight spine kept throughout the movement, particularly at the very top and very bottom.
– The shins are kept vertical
– The kettlebell stays close to the groin – “thumb to bum”
– Shoulders are kept “packed” (or “away from the ears”)
– Utilizes tension and bracing of the abs (similar as if you were preparing to be punched in the stomach)

The above video does none of that, which is why it is a bad video, which I should have added in the original status.

Here is a video of a properly performed kettlebell swing, like we teach at Twoguns Training Systems. The beginning is a demo of the exercise and then he goes into a tutorial but bottom line is that it is a dynamic, fast movement and he keeps his hips back, his back perfectly straight, his shins vertical, the kettlebell always stays close to his groin at the bottom of the swing and his shoulders are always packed.

The kettlebell swing is an amazing fat loss tool and one of our go to exercises both for power development, particularly as a low impact plyometric variation and for metabolic (fat loss) work. And it is also one of the best exercises we’ve found to build and shape the booty, just sayin.

A common misconception about the kettlebell swing is that it is bad for your back. When done like Jillian Michaels that is true, but when done like Pat Flynn does in his video, it is actually an exercise that is beneficial for back health, giving the lower back the ability to stabilize a dynamic movement with a neutral spine.

A great description comes from the aforementioned, Pat Flynn…

Now, to be clear, the swing, when properly executed, is not at all dangerous—as some mistaken fellows might try to tell you it is. Despite what it looks like, it will not blow out your back or cause you to lose your manhood. If it did, then I would prescribe it only to politicians, tax collectors, and a select few relatives.

In fact, world renowned spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, has studied the effects of the swing on the spine and surrounding musculature, and has concluded it to be not only safe, but salubrious.

The swing all at once strengthens the hamstrings, the butt, and the lower back. It melts fat like raw meat on a hot grill, and at the same time teaches you how to produce and reduce force from the hips. To say it another way, it teaches you how to move athletically.

Good for your lower back, great for fat loss and builds the booty? Boom.

One closing note, the best exercise for any person, is the one that meets them where they are at. There is absolutely no shame in working towards the kettlebell swing. If you cant properly hinge, a pre-requisite for the kettlebell swing, it will best serve you to be learn to hinge and get strong at the hinge before venturing to the swing, both for fat loss and for safety. We do this through bridging exercises, strengthening the glutes, teaching neutral spine and working on the hinge through less advanced deadlift variations.

For more information and to come learn all about fat loss and kettlebells at the ONLY gym in Erie that is kettlebell certified, come check us out and join us in changing the way fitness is done. Our New Year New You, 8 week team fat loss challenge (with a $1000 grand prize) starts on January 20th and is your perfect opportunity.

KBA Cert

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