Kettlebells have long been a popular tool for individuals looking to gain strength, power, balance and endurance. Thanks to Hollywood, the trend to use kettlebells for sculpting and toning the entire body has increased in the past few years. It’s a great workout as it works out the entire body, especially true for the core, as the muscle groups are forced to contract as one, building both strength and stability simultaneously. In less time, greater levels of fitness are achieved.
The two-armed kettlebell swing is the foundation of effective kettlebell training. Without the proper technique, the possibility of injury is quite high. These are heavy weights and it is important to take care in handling them. As a beginner, you should not be perfecting your swing with any kettlbell over 16kilos. As you get stronger and your technique gets better, increasing the kettlebell weight is a good idea for increased overall fitness.
When setting up the kettle bell swing, set your feet shoulder width apart. Place the bell at least 10-12 inches in front of you. This is so that when you pick up the kettlebell, the momentum of the swing has already begun.
Focus your breathing so that you’re matching inhaling and exhaling with the force of the movement. Inhale as the kettlebell is on its way down and exhale at the top of the exercise.
On the backswing, don’t bend your knees too much. The placement of the kettlebell during the backswing is important. As the kettlebell swings, your forearms should be in placed in your inner thigh, this ensures that the swing is deep and high. A swing that is too low will create too much strain on your back, increasing the chance of injury. It is also integral to keep your head down on the backswing. If you can still see the wall in front of you on your backswing, you are unnecessarily putting extra strain on your neck and back.
On the upswing, keeping your mind on the hips will ensure correct form and posture of the movement. As that famous line from Billy Madison goes, “It’s all in the hips.” If you’re feeling pressure or pulling in the shoulders, you’re doing it wrong. You should never feel the kettlebell swing in the shoulders.
At the top of the kettlebell swing, the kettlebell should not be any higher than your shoulders. Any higher and you risk not being able to maintain a neutral back position and spine. The back may arch, which will put strain on your neck and shoulders. It actually takes less effort and is more beneficial to your body to keep the spine neutral. At this point, in the top of the swing, your glutes and abs should be tight and the hips should thrust forward, almost in a snap. In this manner there is more power for the swing and more benefit is gained out of each movement.
When setting down the kettlebell, never drop the bell. You should complete your last swing and then set it down safely in a squat position.
The kettlebell swing is the foundational movement in kettlebell training. After this movement is perfected, it will be easier and safe for your body to learn many more kettlebell exercises both basic and advanced. Kettlebell workouts are a great way of gaining strength and toning your body so get started, practice correct form and watch the great results that you will get.