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How to Do a Kettlebell Swing

You can do it; put your hips into it.


By Amy Marturana, C.P.T., SELF

Even if you don't work much with kettlebells, chances are, you've either seen someone do a kettlebell swing or attempted the move yourself. It's arguably the most popular exercise done with the piece of equipment, and there's a laundry list of reasons for that.

The kettlebell swing works the muscles on the back of your body (referred to as the posterior chain), particularly your glutes and hamstrings, which makes it an especially great exercise for anyone who spends most of their day sitting. The motion of the swing also trains hip mobility and lumbar (back) stability, which means that when you're doing it properly, this exercise will strengthen your back in a safe way—no bending, flexing, or twisting required. As an explosive movement, it also helps train power and gives you a good cardio workout. And finally, it's a great lower-body exercise to do if you have knee pain. Unlike lunges and squats, which involve a lot of bending and straightening of the knees, the movement in the kettlebell swing comes from the hips.

So clearly the kettlebell swing is worth learning and incorporating into your routine. But to get the benefits, you need to do it correctly.

"The kettlebell swing is an advanced movement," Jess Sims, certified personal trainer and Peloton Tread instructor, tells SELF. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try it, but it does mean you need to get comfortable with the basic movements it involves beforehand. Sims's advice? "Make sure you know how to do a conventional deadlift before trying out the swing. A deadlift helps you master the hip hinge in a slow and controlled way [before progressing to] the swing, which is ballistic and powerful in nature." (You can find instructions for a deadlift here.)

After mastering a deadlift, you can move onto the kettlebell swing! Right before you start, it's also a good idea to warm up your hips. Sims suggests doing a good morning, which is the same hip motion as the deadlift but instead of holding weight, you'll place your hands behind your head, elbows bent and facing out to the sides. Do 10 to 12 reps.


Once you're warmed up, you're ready to try the kettlebell swing. Here's how:

  • Start with a light kettlebell so that you can perfect the form (think 6 to 10 kg).
  • To set the weight up, make a triangle with the kettlebell and your feet, with your feet at the bottom of the triangle and the kettlebell about a foot in front of you at the top of the triangle.
  • With a soft bend in your knees, hinge forward at your hips, push your butt back, and grab the handles with both hands.
  • Tilt the bell on its side, handle toward your body. "This is called the hike position, because similarly to football, you are going to 'hike' the bell through your legs," Sims explains.
  • Hike the bell high up in your groin area ("Your wrists should touch high up in your inner thigh to keep a small arc—if it goes below the knees, the arc will be way too big and could cause some lower-back discomfort and an inefficient swing," says Sims) and thrust your hips forward aggressively. What does that mean, exactly? "At the top of the swing, you should be in a standing plank, looking straight ahead, elbows locked, core tight, quads and glutes contracted."
  • Once the bell reaches about chest height (and not above shoulder height), hinge forward at your hips and push your butt back again, letting the bell drop on its own as you do (you should not feel like you're using your arms to lift anything). Let your eyes, head, and neck follow so that you don't strain your neck.
  • When you're done with all of your reps, perform a back swing: Bring the bell through your legs but instead of thrusting your hips forward to bring it to shoulder level, safely place it back down and return back to the initial hike position.
Always remember that squeezing your glutes and quads is key to reap all of the benefits of a kettlebell swing. "A lot of folks blame kettlebell swings for giving them back pain, but it's only because they are not aggressively standing up and squeezing the glutes and quads, which absorbs any lower-back impact," says Sims. If you're really using your hips and glutes to thrust forward, you'll get stronger with every swing.
kettlebells,kettlebell exercises,lower body workouts,everyday athletes,butt workouts

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U.S. Daily News: How to Do a Kettlebell Swing
How to Do a Kettlebell Swing
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U.S. Daily News
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