Grab Your Kettlebell and Come Out Swingin’


By Keith Fees, Certified Personal Trainer at Synergy Health and Fitness

There are two exercises I love to use with my clients and myself that unfortunately I see performed improperly more often than I’d like (of course not by Synergy clients 😉 but when I’m out in the “real” world).  Those two exercises are the Kettlebell Swing and the Stability Ball Rollout.  This week I will focus on the Kettlebell Swing. I’ll break down the rollout next time.

Of course, seeing any exercise performed poorly makes me want to pull my eyeballs out and start dishing out back of the head smacks like my grandfather used to do to me when I tried to step outside without a coat.  BUT, this move, when done improperly can really cause some pain or discomfort to a major problem area – the lower back.

I have seen many different variations of this great posterior chain exercise.  Just because someone doesn’t do it the way I teach it doesn’t mean they are wrong or unsafe. I just want to show you how I recommend doing them.

In order to keep this post short and sweet, I will show you the video (click the link below) of what I feel is ideal form and then list cues to help you perform them that way.

Kettlebell Swing <—- Click me for video

–  Your feet should be about shoulder width apart or a little wider with toes flared out about 10-20 degrees.

–  This is a hip hinge, this is not a squat!

–  The movement should be initiated from the hips with an “butt-back” back-flat motion.

–  This initial movement (the hip hinge) should be felt more in the hamstrings than the quads.

–  The knees will only bend slightly.

–  As the bell comes high between your crotch, your forearms should be in contact with your inner thighs.  The bell should never be below your knees. Keep it “dangerously” high…you know what I mean guys!

–  As the bell passes high through your crotch (I know, its such an ugly word but it works) the bell should actually “flip” up and almost hit you in the tailbone…almost!


–  When moving forward, think HIP THRUST! Forcefully and explosively do a standing hip thrust through your glutes.

–  This hip thrust motion is NOT a back hyper-extension.  Remember, our abs are tight and thus our spine should be in a neutral, protected position.

–  The hip thrust more than the arms and shoulders should push the bell out in front of you to about sternum height.

–  Once reaching full glute squeeze with the bell at sternum height, quickly reverse the motion again by getting right back into your hip hinge.

Try this great move the way I teach it and jack up your heart rate while setting fire to your glutes, hamstrings, and core!  If you’re doing a high number of reps (over 15) you will feel it in your arms and shoulders a bit, but remember the main focus is to be on those backside muscle groups.


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