OCF Movement Academy: Kettlebell

So you’re pressed for time.  Don’t have access to all the fancy equipment.  Shoot, right now, you aren’t even part of a gym.  All reasons I hear for not incorporating movement into your daily routine at least 30 minutes a day.  Well, I have news for you, you don’t need any of those. In fact, all you need is one piece of equipment to knock all those excuses out and get moving, the kettlebell.   

The kettlebell is a convenient piece of equipment that can be easily transported, doesn’t take long to set up or start a workout, and is versatile.  Versatility being the key word. 

The OG of kettlebell movements that I want to highlight in this blog is the kettlebell swing.  

The Kettlebell swing has been proven to increase power, aerobic & anaerobic, strengthen the core, strengthen the hips, and give you a full body training all in one.  There is one stipulation…. That you perform the movement correctly.

With so much information readily available to us in today’s world, we see so many people that rush into exercising on their own without proper knowledge of what to do and how to do it.  Which is why we love the below progressions for learning how to safely and properly do a kettlebell swing.  

Movement #1 – Chest Loaded Swing

Why do this?

This movement is the very first progression of the kettlebell swing and it teaches you the hip hinge.  The hip hinge is the most important part of the swing as it ensures you are keeping a neutral spine, which will aid in strengthening your back and keeping you safe throughout.

How?

Stand with your feet just outside of your hips and hold the kettlebell by its horns, the side portion of the object.  Next pull the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum and draw your shoulder blades down and back. Keep a neutral head position here.

Plant your feet into the ground, and maintain connection throughout this movement. Next, reach your hips back, with a slight bend in your knees, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.  Then extend your hips by squeezing your butt and locking out your legs. Keep your core engaged at the top.

Movement #2 – Bent Arm Swing 

Why do this?

The kettlebell swing is an explosive movement, all of which is power being generated from the hips.  Unfortunately, too often we see athletes that miss this connection and resort to overcompensating by using too much arms to lift the kettlebell.

This variation helps in making that correlation of generating force from the legs and work on an explosive hip lockout as opposed to using the arms.

How?

Stand with your feet just outside of your hips and hold the kettlebell by the handle, the top portion of the object.  Let weight will rest on the front of your hips. Keep your upper arms glued to the sides of your body. Swing your hips back by repeating the hip hinge from above with the kettlebell reaching between your legs.  Imagine as if you are trying to slap your butt with the kettlebell as you backswing. Then powerfully thrust your hips forward to swing the weight forward and squeeze your butt at the top. Keep your core engaged here.

Movement #3 – Straight Arm Swing

Why do this?  

Now that you understand the mechanics and origin of power in this movement, it’s time to put this all together.  

It is the full movement in the most efficient way possible.

How?

Start in a standing position with your feet outside of your hips.  Deadlift the kettlebell into standing position by hinging your hips back and keeping a proud chest as your reach the weight on the ground and stand up with it.

Hold the kettlebell at arms length in front of your hips.  Swing the kettlebell between your legs by hinging your hips back with a slight bend to your knees, you should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and glutes.  Explosively press the floor down. extend your knees, then your hips powerfully by thrusting them forward and squeezing your butt at the top. Keep your core engaged here.

Once this happens you can engage your arms to stop the weight in mid air and pull it back down through your hips for your next rep.

Give these progressions above a try to ensure you are performing the king of kettlebell movements efficiently, and most importantly safely in your training.

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