Daily Dose of Coach #159: Don't Squat Your Swing

Kettlebell swings are a big part of my programming. That being said, I've had to coach a lot of people through this powerful, hip hinging movement. There are many ways to foul up a swing, but one of the main ways is squatting it. This is where knee flexion and dropping the bell below the knees live.

I've heard it a million times when I ask people if they've done kettlebell swings before. They say, "Yes, but I don't like to do them because it hurts my back."

Well then, the primary culprit of this is usually squatting the swing, not using the glutes and having a hip hinge nowhere to be found.

The video above, by Delanie Ross , is one of the best kettlebell technique videos I've found. You'll find how to fix your squatty swing at 5:14, but I definitely recommend watching the entire video.

Here are some notes I took from the video:

  • Kettlebell swing burns calories by building strength and cardio at the same time
  • It also trains a balance of tension and relaxation which translates to better performance in athletes
  • At the back of the swing you're relaxed, then you really tense up to drive the hips to drive the bell
  • All the swing is, is a dynamic deadlift. You want to make sure you can deadlift before you swing. (deadlifting a kettlebell)
  • Elevate your kettlebell deadlift if you have mobility issues with pulling the bell from the ground. This will improve your deadlifting pattern and form.
  • All the swing is, is a dynamic hinge pattern.
  • You cannot do a swing slowly and correctly. It's a very powerful exercise.
  • You can improve this by biomechanically matching your breathing. On the back swing sniff in sharply through the nose and forcefully exhale when you stand up.
  • It helps because it sounds like a mini explosion reminding you that it's a very quick and powerful exercise.
  • When it comes to the arms, never let the bell come higher than chest level.
  • All you're worried about is the hip snap
  • At the bottom of the swing you don't want the bell to drop below the knees.
  • Fix the squatty swing by restricting the ankles. Stand with balls of your feet elevated on a 2 x 4 and perform this swing. This restricts the ankles and forces the hips back.
  • Perform immediately after to off of the 2 x 4 to help grove that new hip hinging pattern.