The kettlebell swing is arguably one of the best multi-purpose exercises you can possibly do. It is a great exercise for helping to improve our frame and posture by strengthening the postural muscles. But also, the kettlebell swing is one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ fat-burning exercises that you can do, thus greatly helping with fat loss.
However, it is very easy to screw up the technique. Furthermore, with the increasing popularity with which kettlebells are being used, it is important people understand the potential mistakes they are making and how to correct them. So here are some common mistakes and how to eradicate them, ensuring a perfect swing every time.
When observing a kettlebell swing, one of the most common mistakes is that people often squat when the bell goes between their knees. But the swing is not a squat, rather a hip hinge.
What is the difference I hear you ask? Well, during a squat you knees and hips maximally bend. During a hip hinge on the other hand, your hips maximally bend and you knees minimally bend.
When we swing the kettlebell we want to hinge our hips until the torso is almost parallel to the floor, whilst maintaining minimal bend in the knee. This will help to maximally activate the powerful hamstrings in the back of our legs that help us swing the kettlebell back up. Bending our knees will not help us do that.
Your Back Hurts
Following a set of swings your hamstrings and glutes should be the main muscles that feel sore. But I often see people complaining about bad backs, this is likely due to their hip hinge.
A good pointer is to try and make sure you guide the kettlebell between your knees, but do not let the bell drop below the height of your knees. Furthermore, as the bell passes through your legs, imagine you are passing a ball through your legs to someone behind you. This will help to maintain a straight back and maximally engage the hamstrings.
Your Back Bends at The Top
During each kettlebell swing there are two main parts: the hip hinge and the vertical plank. When you reach the top of each swing you want to make sure that you are in one straight line from your head to your feet. We want to avoid engaging the back too much, as this could lead to injury.
The way to do this is to pull your shoulders away from your ears, squeeze your glutes and quads, brace your abs and push your feet through the floor. This will activate and engage the correct muscles in to doing the work for executing a perfect kettlebell swing, thus reducing the risk of injury and aggravation to the back.
You Have Wandering Eyes
It is important to remain focussed on one spot when swinging, because when you look up or down you throw your form out of alignment. This can potentially lead to injury if form is not kept correctly.
Lacking Control of the Kettlebell
Before we can start to rack up the weight of the kettlebells we use when we are kettlebell swinging, we need to make sure we are in control of the bell first. If we don’t control it, it will control you and that can lead to injury.
To manage it properly it is important to apply a forceful amount of power from the hips. The way to do it is forcefully explode your hips forward, pretend as if you are throwing the weight in front of you.
Your Arms Go Way Above Your Head
At the top of your swing the kettlebell should finish somewhere between your waist and shoulder. You will know when it is high enough when you feel the bell become weightless for a moment. The heavier the kettlebell, the lower the peak of the swing.
If you are still having some trouble with the kettlebell swing, the here is a step by step guide to help perfect your kettlebell swing:
- Start with a shoulder width stance, crease at the hips and push them backwards so you start to fold over to face the floor.
- Continue until your hands can then reach the kettlebell placed between your feet.
- Once you have hold of the kettlebell, take all the slack out of your body by bracing your core, keeping shoulders back and back straight. In this position, your shoulders should be higher than your hips and hips above your knees.
- To begin the swinging movement, hike back the bell hard. As if passing ball through your legs.
- At this point you need to thrust forwards with your hips making sure you end up standing tall. Shoulders should be down and back, making a big chest (as if you are proud to be working with kettlebells, and you should be). Tense the glutes firmly, imagine drawing up the kneecaps to the groin while simultaneously pushing down into the ground as hard as you can through the feet.
- Once you have begun swinging, keep these movements going without stopping between repetitions.
ps if you fancy seeing a video demonstration of a 2 hand swing then check Ricky out doing one here: