Used previously by old time strong men and popularised by Russian athletes, the kettlebell is now used by top sports teams, martial artists, athletes, Hollywood celebrities and everyday trainers throughout the world, due to the outstanding results people are getting.
The foundation kettlebell exercise is the kettlebell swing. The swing can be done with 1 or 2 hands. It involves hiking the kettlebell between your legs before using your hips and posterior chain to propel the kettlebell forward and up in a circular swing movement before it drops under control back between your legs. The following great benefits can be gained by training with kettlebell swings.
What is the benefit?
1). Kettlebells are highly efficient and allow you to do fitness and weight training in one workout at the same time.
2). Swings develop the important posterior chain muscles of the body such as the hamstrings, glutes, core and back. These muscles are often overlooked with traditional weight training but they are crucial for a large number of sports as these muscles are heavily involved in sprinting, jumping and tackling movements.
3). A kettlebell swing is a perfect choice of exercise for tabata training. This very short but intense style of training is ideal for kettlebell swings as they hit a lot of muscle at one time and get the heart rate soaring. Although Tabata training only involves work periods of 20 seconds with 10seconds of rest it is very brutal but very effective.
4). Swings work the abs and strengthen the core muscles as they provide a stable platform for other muscles to pull from. Traditional crunches are useless and do nothing for you, hit your abs with functional abdominal training that actually has benefit in the real world.
5). A key benefit of kettlebell swings is that they train all parts of the back from the lower back all the way to traps. They train all the muscles together giving you a great functional workout
6). High rep swings also develop back endurance which Professor Stuart McGill a leading spine/back expert considers has a very positive effect on the reduction of back injuries.
7). Swings are a fantastic conditioner and body fat burner. More and more studies are concluding that greater body fat burning occurs when training is performed at higher intensity levels rather than long slow endurance type training.
Although it sounds too good to be true there is a downside of kettlebell swings … they are hard work. However, if you build into your program gradually, a program based around kettlebell swing movements will provide fantastic workouts to get you fit, lean and healthy in a surprisingly short amount of time.
The kettlebell swing is the foundation movement for a large proportion of kettlebell exercises. The swing utilises a hip thrust that is fundamental to other kettlebell exercises such as the kettlebell clean and the kettlebell one arm snatch.
The swing maximizes muscular endurance in the back and waist, is a great lower body strength builder and is a highly effective conditioning exercise.
1) The starting position of the Two Arm Kettlebell Swing is with the kettlebell on the ground in front of you, knees bent, your weight centered towards your heels and your back flat
2) Start the movement by hiking the kettlebell behind you and then drive your hips forward to propel the kettlebell through its arc. The movement is similar to performing a standing broad jump, but of course you stay in the same spot
3) Your arms are just hooks and the power comes from the movement of the hips and the muscles of the posterior chain ie, hamstrings, glutes, lower back.
4) Swing the kettlebell to about chest height. At the top of the movement breathe out whilst contracting your quads, glutes and your abs (by tilting your pelvis up).
5) Breathe in and hold your breath as you let the kettlebell free fall back between your legs so that it passes through your legs as high as possible (to keep the arc tight and to stop unnecessary pulling on your back). Aim for your groin and then get your groin out of the way by taking you hips back
6) Although different trainees will have varying amount of knee bend the important thing is that the hips go back and thrust forward and that the quads do not take over the exercise. You should feel the movement in your hamstrings. If your quads are instead fatiguing then you are not taking the hips back at the bottom of the movement.