Kettlebells were originated in Russia in the 18th Century, the original function of them is still debated today, although it is thought that the Russian Farmers used them as a counterbalance with measuring grain and produce. The farmers then used them as a tool to develop their own strength and they became a popular power lifting tool.
The swing is one of the kettlebells’ primary movement patterns, others include the clean and press and the snatch (which will be discussed in a later blog). For the initial start position, the chest should be pushed out and the shoulders back. Grip the kettlebell tight, I have heard stories of people accidentally releasing the kettlebell at the top of the swing causing all sorts of damage, so grip it tight! Initiate momentum and the weight should be shifted to your heels and you’re looking to execute an arching movement.
During the downward phase of the movement, there should be flexion at the hips, whilst maintaining a flat back and the arms locked. A common mistake is seeing too much bend in the knees as the kettlebell is lowered, as previously mentioned, the kettlebell swing is a posterior chain exercise, not a squat-swing.
From the bottom of the ark, the kettlebell is pushed up by generating power through the glutes (bottom muscles) in a shifting motion. As the kettlebell travels up and reaches it highest point, which should be in line with the shoulder, the legs and hips fully extend into a quick dynamic ‘snap.’ Which can be seen in the video below:
A common mistake when performing the kettlebell swing is hyperextension of the back. This puts unwanted pressure on the spine as it is a dynamic, powerful movement that generates lots of torque. Let the glutes do the work, not the lower back or arms!
Here at Espa Life, we are big fans of the kettlebell swing due to its versatility. The double arm swing can be used as part of a power program with a heavy load and less repetitions performed, or it can just as effective when chosen as a finishing exercise as part of a high intensity metabolic circuit.
The obvious progression from the double hand swing is the single arm swing which is a great form of unilateral training where the core and stabiliser muscles really have to be activated. However, I would recommend working on mastering the double hand swing before moving to the single arm.