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Are You Butchering Your Kettlebell Swings

Written By

Jeremy Boyd


General Group Exercise, Kettlebells, Personal Training

Posted On

18 August 2014

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The two handed swing is one of the truly signature kettlebell exercises. There are very few pieces of equipment that come close to delivering the same benefits as effectively using the same movement pattern. Not only that, but it offers a substantial number of benefits, such as:

  • Improved triple extension
  • Improved thoracic extension
  • Stronger scapular retraction and depression
  • Increased glute activation
  • Improved terminal knee extension
  • Increased rate of force development
  • Enhanced metabolic function
  • And many others.

That said, whilst most users are aware of the benefits, many of them are failing to perform the exercise in a manner that results in those benefits being achieved.

The key to almost all of the benefits of the two handed swing lies in initiating the movement with the backwards shift of the hips and keeping a relatively vertical shin position.

The key things to look for in a picture perfect swing are:

  • The mass of the kettlebell descending no lower than the knees, as this can indicate squatting the weight or losing thoracic extension/scapular retraction
  • The torso aligning approximately 40 degrees to the floor at end range
  • The lower leg remaining largely immobile, so that almost all movement occurs from the knees upwards
  • The hips travel forwards in a straight line, not upwards, which will send the kettlebell forwards creating a pull, rather than a lift at the top of the swing.

Often this is hard to really get without visual confirmation, so practice in front of a mirror or even better, video yourself.

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