The kettlebell swing has been instrumental in cueing hip extension for my body. It’s been a safe way for me to work on this accelerated movement as I strengthen my low back. It’s also an effective and SAFE method to work on acceleration, speed, and power — something that separates athletes across sports.
This movement applies beyond the field of play. It’s great for engaging the back half of our body and cueing our glutes so we can hold ourselves in a more expressive and vital fashion.
Importance of Power in Sport
Power is defined as the rate of force development. Moving load in a fast fashion is an instrumental athletic skill. No Olympic lifting — albeit highly effective — is needed, and minimal cueing is necessary to perform the kettlebell swing!
Cal Dietz, head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota, trains his athletes with this concept of power in mind.
He measured two athletes who had similar one-rep maximums (RM) in the squat. The superior athlete (in terms of on the field performance) between the two was able to lift the same weight in a quicker fashion. His neuromuscular EFFICIENCY was greater than the other and was demonstrated by his POWER output.
Kettlebell Swing as a Posture Primer
The kettle swing a tremendous physiology primer that makes you ready for your day and also to be a strong, explosive athlete. It cues our body so we can enjoy our time with our loved ones and do activities of daily living without pain. It helps us to feel good while we inhabit our flesh suits and is not an exercise that breaks your body down in the “no pain, no gain” mindset.
It’s such a self-correcting exercise. The weight moves smoothly with the right “pop” and hip extension. But if you fall into the hip flexion fault (bending at the waist), the weight does not arc in a smooth fashion. This allows you to diagnose dysfunctional movement and take the correct steps to fix this!
- Deep squat to start
- During this movement focus on grounding feet as strongly as possible with feet pointing outwards 30 to 45 degrees
- Push big toes down into the ground, along with heels, while pulling up on pinky toe side of foot by engaging the shin musculature
- Chest is proud and confident with chin slightly tucked
- Straight arms and strong from starting position and during swing
- Squeeze glutes to extend hips forward
- Focus on keeping shoulders down and away from ears
- Keep ribs locked down (engaged obliques!) and feel these lateral muscles fire
How to Incorporate
As I mentioned previously, you can use this as a “posture and physiology primer”, or you can tie it into your resistance training routine. The best rule of thumb is to grease the groove! Do it often so your neuromuscular system codes it into its “memory.”
Be sure to choose an appropriate weight. A 20-pound kettlebell is a good place to start. We do NOT want pain faces that scream ‘uncomfortable’! Stay relaxed head to toe and especially in the face, while keeping a solid breath through your nose and lower belly.
Relaxation is all about repetition. The more relaxed you are during “stressful” activities, then the more relaxed your body/mind will stay as a set point. The opposite is also true. So avoid pain faces and seek to smile while moving!
This is especially an instrumental movement if you have a tendency to fall into a forward flexed position and have trouble with glute activation, as I mentioned previously. The kettle bell swing will be a great tool in helping you learn to engage the musculature to keep you extended and moving in an expressive and open fashion!
I cover more performance training tidbits at Mobility Training that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!