Cleaning Up Kettlebell Swing Technique
I don’t consider myself a kettlebell expert, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once so that has to count for something.
Note from TG: For those non-American folk who may be reading and have no idea WTF staying at a Holiday Inn Express has to do with anything let alone kettlebell training, maybe watching THIS clip will help.
For those who did get the joke: Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
In all seriousness, while I’ve never taken the RK or HKC or the Strong First course (it’s on my fitness bucket list though), or climbed Mt. Everest, I like to think that despite those minor short comings, I still know a thing or two when it comes to coaching the kettlebell swing, among other KB related exercises.
And while I’m on the topic, I always find it comical when I hear stories from my clients who travel and they tell me how, at certain gyms they’ve come across, they’re not allowed to use the kettlebells without a trainer’s supervision, as if they run the risk of poking their eye out.
Yet, upon watching said “certified” trainer (99.9% of the time not certified through Dragon Door or Strong First) demonstrate a KB workout, whether it entails swings, get-ups, cleans, or snatches, my client’s have to keep their corneas from perpetually bleeding because the trainer’s technique is just god-awful.
Like Jillian Michael’s god-awful:
All that said, because I don’t want to get all fired up and throw my laptop through the window, today I just want to hit on two often overlooked technique snafus that a lot of people make with their swings.
Number One: making the mistake of allowing the KB to drop BELOW the knees.
I wrote a blog post on the difference between a squat swing (wrong) and a hip snap swing (right) a while ago (HERE), and I think anyone who’s curious should check that out first before going any further.
Outside of that, I stole the above gem from the one and only Neghar Fonooni, and it’s something that really made a lot of sense to me when I heard it, and high-five to myself, was something I was instinctively coaching already.
Most of us have heard the often quoted cue from Dan John about keeping the KB closer to the body and “attacking the zipper.” This works well, but I still often find that many trainees will allow the KB to drift below the knees which can wreak havoc on the lumbar spine.
This is more of an “eyeball” what-you-see-is-what-you-get observation, but if it’s something you find yourself or your clients doing, it would be a good idea to, you know, stop it.
Number Two: allowing the KB to “get away.”
This was actually something I snaked from one of my clients who heard it from Dr. Stuart McGill who I think heard it from Han Solo. But I can’t back that up.
When we transition from the hike pass to the actual swing and end up with our arms full extended out in front of us, it’s important not to let the bell itself to “get away” and cause more shear load on the spine.
I always like to tell people they’re going to snap/push their hips through and the arms are just along for the ride. When their arms are fulling extended, the objective is not to be holding on for dear life, they’re going to “relax” for split second, and pull the KB back down towards the swing portion.
During the “relax” portion, however, they want to be fast (and loose) at the top, but not to the point where the KB is going to jolt their spine (for lack of a better term).
The short video below (just a bit over two minutes) tries to hit on both points. I hope it helps. For those celebrating Labor Day Weekend – enjoy!