Why your kettlebell swing form matters.
Kettlebell swings make my back hurt!! I’m sorry but the way you swing makes your back hurt. Stop blaming the kettlebell when your kettlebell swing form sucks.
I’ve spent the last eight years teaching people how to swing kettlebells properly. It’s one of the most underrated but poorly executed movements in fitness. Commonly I see that it’s not the student that needs the lesson but the coach, the amount of fitness classes i’ve seen where the coach can’t execute correct kettlebell swing form is cringeworthy.
So here’s a 25 minute masterclass on how to fix your kettlebell swing form for good.
Improving your kettlebell swing form starts with learning what the correct hinge pattern feels like. By learning to load your posterior chain correctly, this will drastically improve your ability to load the movement and dynamically load the swing. The swing is a horizontal expression of force, meaning that you should be trying to push it forward and not upwards. If we talk about the kettlebell snatch and even American style swings, these are more vertical expressions of force and will naturally encourage “quadding”.
For the standard swing however, keeping the weight shifted to the heels and loaded through the glutes and hamstrings will go a long way to using that stored elastic energy needed for correct kettlebell swing form. If we are deskbound athletes, learning how to use your posterior chain may take some work because the down side of sitting all day is lazy glutes and tight hamstrings. But you can fix that here.
“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”
Before we move to the ballistic nature of the swing we must learn to control the movement in a slow manner. The kettlebell deadlift is a great transition from hip hinge patterning to master correct kettlebell swing form. Try this movement using a single or double kettlebell, asymmetrically loaded (single side) or even single leg.
Maintaining a strong and stable spine position during your kettlebell swing comes down to having a biomechanical breathing match. By breathing in at the bottom of your swing and using a fast exhale at the top, you will be in a far safer position from using diaphragmatic breathing to increase trunk stability. You can learn more about it here.
The pick up and place down of the kettlebell when you have perfect kettlebell swing form should be effortless and safe. Without rounding your back you will reduce your risk of injury. Keeping your weight shifted to your heels and pretending you’re hiking the kettlebell (NFL term) will allow you to maintain a neutral spine.
Once you’ve mastered the hike and the place down you will be able to move to dead stop or power swings. Using a single swing this will allow you to feel comfortable with the pick up and place down whilst also improving your kettlebell swing form. If you have traditionally started your swings by picking the kettlebell up, this will take some getting used to.
Feel like that bell is pulling you down into a rounded back during your swings? We can fix that using the fall drill by placing a kettlebell or similar object between your feet and starting with top down swings. This external cue will help you keep the bell high enough to maintain a neutral spine.
Tip: External cues are really powerful teaching mechanisms as they simply don’t let you do the wrong thing.
Six powerful tips and cues to help you master correct kettlebell swing form. You might also notice in the video that there is some bonus content for the single arm swing as well. Be sure to master the two handed swing before moving on but once you’re ready, go for it!