Mastering the Kettlebell Swing

KB Swing

This past year I’ve really become fascinated with kettebells.

(Side Note: I also know and understand they aren’t the be-all, end-all of training.  My gym still has plenty of dumbbells, barbells, and a bunch of other equipment to help you get big and strong)

However, I do see the value in using them.  And perhaps more importantly, I enjoy training with them.

But I digress.

After a discussion with Dan John on my Podcast several weeks ago, I realized how you can make a ton of progress not only in your kettlebell technique, but in your lifting technique and body movcement as well, just by focusing on the kettlebell swing and Turkish get-up.

This was reaffirmed this past weekend while watching Jason C. Brown coach at the IYCA Summit.  He was having the trainees (who were other trainers and coaches), work on their swing technique.

When coaching the swing, you’ll often see the same mistakes made time and again.  Here’s a short list:

  • Simply picking the kettlebell up, versus setting up in the “hike” position at the bottom.
  • Not pulling back aggressively towards the groin, both at the start of a set and within repetitions.  Dan John calls this “attacking the zipper.”
  • Failure to keep the chest up and back flat.
  • Not finishing “tall.”  At the top/finish position, think about extending the hips and knees simultaneously.  This is preferable to a bowed position where the hips are extended but the client is also using a lot of low back extension to drive the movement as well.
  • Too much tension throughout.  Think about staying tight at the top and bottom, and focus on relaxing in between.
  • Failure to “tame the arc.”  Many beginners are way too “loose” with the arc of the kettlebell.  Instead, focus on shortening the arc and keeping it tight to your body both at the top and bottom positions.

This is obviously just a quick and non-exhaustive list, but hopefully it gets you thinking about your technique, or that of your clients/athletes.

What are some common issues you see when coaching or training?  I’d love to hear your feedback below!

Stay strong

MR

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  1. MR,
    Do you feel that breathing with swings is something that can be "over-coached" or is this an area where attention to detail pays? I know some advocate inhaling on the concentric and exhaling on the eccentric with lighter swings and then reversing that on heavier swings. Would you get into that sort of situational detail or would you prefer to just instruct the client to remember to breath/breath naturally/not hold the breath throughout the set?
    I'm also curious if you see a time and place for using a KB swing style that is almost pure hip hinge, a la an RDL or Good Morning, as opposed to the "normal" version where it's a bit more of a hip hinge/squat hybrid.

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