If I was stuck on an island for months on end and could only have one exercise with one tool . . . it would no doubt be the kettlebell hardstyle swing. It is the perfect balance of explosive athleticism, raw grip strength, and teaches you to use your entire body as one piece with each breath. It is the best exercise to expose any strength leaks that will affect even your other favorite exercises. So with the recent release of my second paperback book,The Kettlebell Awaits, I want to give you a preview showcase of what it has to offer in this article breaking down the kettlebell swing piece by piece so you get more power and strength from this exercise.
The Foundation — Kettlebell Deadlift:
A kettlebell swing, in contrast, is a fast deadlift. Start with the kettlebell in between your feet and “chop at the hips.” As you grab the handle, you can add a little more knee flexion if needed to maintain a flat back. Once set up, think you want to “break the bar” of the handle to engage your lats. They are the big wing muscles of your back and help protect your shoulders. Retract them to prevent any shoulder shrugging effect. Then to lift the kettlebell up you want to drive the feet into the ground and drive the hips forward locking into a vertical plank at the top with the glutes, lats, and abs all being rock hard. The arms should not pull the kettlebell at all with elbow flexion as the hips extend. The arms work more as a hooked pulley system for the hips.
As you descend back down, hinge the hips back with minimal knee flexion keeping the kettlebell in between your feet. Letting it shift forward away from the midline of your feet makes you round your low back to compensate. You should feel the hamstrings (the back muscle of the thighs) feel like they’re loading up like a rubber band being slightly stretched as you hip hinge back. Do not squat letting the hips go down with maximal knee flexion. Slowly rest the kettlebell back down to the floor and repeat regathering tension in the lats “breaking the bar” and driving the hips through into full extension in the vertical plank again.
Your Set Up Is Your First Rep — 2H Kettlebell Swing:
Now swinging the kettlebell, we want it less than a foot away from you to set up the pendulum it needs for the back swing. This is done by “chopping at the hips” and tilting the kettlebell. You never want to pull the kettlebell into the backswing or else it’ll result in no power each time. Once tilted, find your lats to better flatten out your spine with a solid hip hinge. Then hike it ABOVE your knees (going below flexes the low back) and explode up into the vertical plank tensing your lats, glutes, and abs just as you did at the top of the 2H deadlift.
Then as soon as your elbows connect back to your torso immediately hip hinge back and set the kettlebell down exactly as you started. Take a slight pause letting the kettlebell fully decelerate not moving at all and repeat another repetition. You do NOT want to tap the floor and quickly swing it again. The point of this drill is to teach consistent power development with each repetition. Remember the Biomechanical Breathing Match by sniffing in through the nose at the back swing and forcefully exhaling as the hips extend to better brace your abdomen muscles around your spine.
Having the proper foundations is paramount to building your kettlebell skills at a safe pace. So it’s no surprise people that deadlift and plank with bad form will show the same faults when they put their hands on a kettlebell. The major problem with social media is everyone wants to do the sexy showoff exercises and think they can do it with no experience needed.While I do not think the 2H kettlebell swing is advanced — not having a strong one will result in poorly done cleans, snatches, presses, and squats overtime.
Correcting The Kettlebell Swing:
In this video below, we’re gonna breakdown how the Deadstop Swing and Partner Spike Drill can easily improve your swing with these coaching cues:
I hope you got a lot out this article to help better your kettlebell swing with more power. For more, be sure to check out my latest paperback book, The Kettlebell Awaits, now available on Amazon — CLICK HERE to order your copy.