Make no mistake, I am all about the kettlebell military press, but having spent a lot of time teaching newbies the ins and outs of kettlebell training, there is no better lift to work your strength and conditioning quite like the kettlebell swing.
The kettlebell swing is considered one of the six fundamental lifts of the kettlebell world (the other five being the clean, press, snatch, squat and Turkish getup). The swing demands a lot of power from your legs and lats, and will also demand a ton of core stabilization and strength to tame the kettlebell at the very top of your swing. Today, I want to break down the movement pattern of the swing itself starting with a precursor lift, the kettlebell deadlift.
The best way to start working your swing is to practice something called the hip hinge. I have a post about how to practice this with a PVC pipe if you are brand spanking new to this hinge technique itself. You can read more about it by clicking this link. To add weight to your hinge, start by placing a kettlebell between your feet. Use your hands to form a sort of crease at your hips and sit back as if you are sittingon an imaginary chair beyond you. Grab the kettlebell and pull your shoulders back (we call this “packing your shoulders” in the lifting world). You should immediately feel your lats start to engage. From here, stand straight up with the weight in your hands and let out an exhale at the top of your deadlift. As you descend, hinge at the hips to place your kettlebell back down to the floor.
Once you have mastered your kettlebell deadlift, you will be on your way to a fully executed swing. generally speaking, we teach a technique called the “pendulum swing” to make sure you understand how to stabilize yourself while swinging a kettlebell. You can read more about the pendulum swing here.
Startling like you would with a kettlebell deadlift, step behind your kettlebell to give yourself enough space to hike your kettlebell back. My general rule is about 6-8 inches behind the weight. Once you are behind your kettlebell, hinge at the hips and grab the kettlebell itself. tilt the kettlebell backward and pack your shoulders just like you did with your kettlebell deadlift. Once your shoulders are packed, hike your kettlebell back forcefully so the weight is behind you. Snap your hips forward and let your kettlebell float to chest level. I recommend giving a forceful exhale at the top of your swing to brace your abdominal muscles so the weight does not pull you forward. Maintain a tight grip on your swing for this reason too. Let your kettlebell float back down until you are hinged at the hips and the weight is behind you. Snap your hips again for the next rep.
For single arm swings, all of your set up is the same but you WILL be slightly off center since you are using just one arm to swing your kettlebell. Taking the time to pause and pack your shoulder on each arm will help you stay centered each rep through your swing. As for executing your swing, it is identical to the technique you have with your two handed swing.
I have a a nice little swing cycle for you to test out this month. I recommend factoring in this protocol 2x a week for extra conditioning work. At the end of 3 weeks, test your two handed and single arm swings at 1 kettlebell size heavier than you started with.
Two handed Swings: 30/45 pace for 10 sets
Single Arm Swings: 30/30 pace for 10 minutes
Two Handed swings: 30/40 pace for 10 sets
Single Arm Swings: 15/15 pace for 10 minutes
Two Handed swings: 30/30 pace for 10 minutes
Single Arm Swings: 20/10 pace for 10 minutes
Week 4: Test 10 rep max on two handed swings and single arm swings 1 kettlebell size heavier than when you started.
Ready for more? Join my FREE coaching forum by clicking this link and show us your kettlebell swings! I will be posting my own swings in the coming weeks. Let me know if you have any questions about your kettlebell swings by emailing me at janelle@Janellepica.com. If you are ready to dig into some serious kettlebell programming yourself, join my VIP coaching program today!
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