Kettlebell Swing: How to Cue the Hinge and Never Perform a Squat Swing Again

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There’s just some things in life you don’t do.

1. You don’t punch kittens in the face1. That’s just common sense (and really cruel).

2. Guys: you don’t not pay for the first date. And ladies: the fake purse grab at the end of dinner makes us guys feel good, and we appreciate the sentiment; but at some point, say between dates #3-71, you don’t need to continue the charade.

At some point you should eventually actually pay for something.

3. You don’t hang out at Chuck-E-Cheese when you’re an adult. That’s Creepy McCreepypants territory.

4. You don’t wear white socks with dress pants2.

5. And, for the love of all that’s holy, you don’t squat the kettlebell swing.

I’d argue it’s the most common mistake that many people make with their swing technique. For starters, it’s wrong. I don’t care who you are or who you were coached by, even if it was Captain America, squatting the KB swing is not correct. It just isn’t.

How’s that for a scientific explanation?

Second, and more importantly, “squatting” the swing (to the point where the KB drops below the knees) increases the lever arm and places much more stress on the lower back. Often, whenever someone complains that KB swings bothers their back the culprit is one of two things: 1) not engaging their glutes enough and 2) not incorporating a hip hinge.

Today I wanted to share a simple tactile cue I learned from Dr. Mark Cheng (Senior Instructor for StrongFirst) you can use to help groove more of a hip hinge/hip snap pattern when swinging. Basically you need to stay upright A LOT longer than you think (and much longer than most are comfortable with) before you break the hips and hinge back.

 

ADDENDUM: I’ve noticed a few comments on various social media outlets where people have noted there ARE viable reasons to perform a squat swing and that it does have its place. I guess agree. Sorta.

There’s a time and place for everything I suppose. But even for those who DO perform a squat swing, there’s still a significant hip hinge involved.  Yeah, yeah, there’s “research” to back up a squat swing and how it can improve “x” factor; but then again, there was research back in the day that said smoking wasn’t carcinogenic.

The eye sores that I see a lot people performing (where it’s entirely a squat) is wrong. You’d have a hard time convincing me there’s a legitimate rationale to do swings that way.

Nevertheless, I guess I should have re-worded things to say this: My main beef are for those people learning the swing in the first place. The hip hinge is such an integral movement which reduces the learning curve when introducing new movements drastically.

Maybe a better way to articulate my thoughts would be this: learn the hip hinge swing first, get really good at it, and THEN you can play around with the squat swing, if that’s what floats your boat. Weeeeeeeeeeeee.

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  1. or any animal for that matter

  2. Come on man! What is this, amateur hour?