Crash Course: The Kettlebell Swing

by Chris on October 22, 2011

An often neglected area of the body when it comes to strength training is what has become known in recent years as the posterior chain. It’s a shame that more people don’t concentrate their training on these muscles, since they are some of the strongest in the body and weakness there can lead to a host of structural issues, injuries and pain.

Don’t worry though, as there are a whole host of movements that effectively train this area. Today we’re going to cover one of those: the kettlebell swing*.

*Don’t worry if you don’t have access to kettlebells, this movement is performed just as easily with dumbbells.

The swing looks simple at first, and it’s probably not as difficult as some people would have you believe. However, there are a number of technical aspects to this exercise that deserve your attention. Performing it incorrectly can do you more harm than good if you’re not careful. It’s best to start out with a relatively light weight so you can master the technique but make sure you don’t start too light. Since this is an explosive movement using a weight that’s too light won’t provide enough resistance.

Check out the video for coaching cues and a demonstration of the technique.

Remember to practice the movement first and get it right. Here is a checklist of things to be aware of:

  • Keep your back flat throughout the movement
  • Keep your eyes forward
  • Hinge at the hips
  • Forcefully drive the hips forward
  • Contract the glutes and midesection at the top of the movement

Adding the kettlebell swing to your training program can help you develop a stronger, more explosive posterior chain as well as excellent conditioning. And since it is a hip extension movement it can help counter the long hours of sitting that most people tend to have during the day. Add the kettlebell swing into your program as a posterior chain movement on your lower body days or as a conditioning drill.


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