Kettlebell Fundamentals Part 2 of 4 : Two Handed Kettlebell Swing
In my previous article I outlined one of the most basic kettlebell positions; The Rack. If you missed that article, check it out here: http://primalmovement.ca/kettlebell-fundamentals-part-1-4/
This week my focus will be on the two handed kettlebell swing. This swing is a staple exercise in many training programs and is one of, if not the most popular kettlebell exercise. It is also an exercise that comes in several variations; hardstyle vs sport, Russian vs American. I will be outlining a standard form of the exercise which is built around a simple hip hinge. Along with the Rack position, the kettlebell swing is a gatekeeper exercise which will open the way to a whole world of kettlebell goodness.
Getting Started: The Hinge
The hinge is the key to performing a proper swing. The following will be a fairly basic outline of how to practice a hip hinge. A more detailed instruction will be left for another article at a later date. For now, If you need to practice your hip hinge, grab a dowel, and drill the hinge. To perform the hip hinge dowel drill, place a dowel along your back, in line with your spine.
The goal is to create three points of contact; the back of your head, the upper back (between your shoulder blades), and the lower back (your sacrum). When you have the dowel in position along your spine, stand tall with the feet shoulder width apart, toes facing forward. Sit the hips back and bend forward, while maintaining the three points of contact with the dowel.
If you lose contact with the dowel, it is because you have failed to maintain a neutral spine during. Keep drilling with the dowel until you can smoothly perform the exercise while maintaining the contact points.
Now onto the Swing. The swing is an explosive movement that begins with hiking the kettlebell back between your legs, (towards your butt) while you hinge at the hips. From this position you want to move explosively, drive through the hips, and push the bell forward. A key point during this phase of the movement is to keep your core tight, and keep the hips back of the centerline.
If you aren’t feeling any stretch or tension in the hamstrings, you are probably compensating by rounding and loading the lower back during the hinge, or you are simply performing a weird squat variation with the kettlebell.
Once you have explosively driven through the hips you want to let the kettlebell go only so high as the amount of force makes it. If you are only pushing the kettlebell up to chest level, you do not need to start performing a front raise to get it higher. Once the kettlebell has reached its highest point you should be standing in an upright position, with the core and glutes engaged.
You do not want to be leaning back. From the top you want to let the kettlebell fall freely and drag you down, back into the hinged position with the kettlebell hiked between your legs.
Things to Consider:
Remember that the goal of this exercise is to hinge, and drive through the hips. Here are some key points to remember while you work through the swing:
- Keep the core tight, and the spine in nice neutral alignment.
- At the Bottom of the movement the hips should be behind the center line of the body
- At the top you should be standing in a nice upright position, with glutes engaged – Do not lean back
- Remember that the power comes from the hips, and the movement we are looking for is a hinge, not a squat
(avoid Excessive leaning)
(remember, try not to turn the swing into a squat)
Just a reminder, there are several established variations of the kettlebell swing. Many trainers and instructors may coach you differently according to which one is their preferred method.
Now you have the basic framework for the two handed swing. Take that home, and fit the swing into your workouts over the next couple weeks. Once you have mastered the kettlebell swing, check back in for my next article where we will be touching on the one handed swing, as well as the kettlebell clean!