The kettlebell is literally the most underutilized tool in most commercial gyms. Many places have dozens of them, while other gyms have a shitty plastic one collecting spiderwebs in the corner.
Some gyms have none. Others have only kettlebells, and do all of their fitness related activities with that tool.
Still, very few people utilize its plethora of benefits to fitness. Below are some variations of this exercise which falls into the hip hinge family of fundamental human movement patterns.
The kettlebell swing is a way to train powerful hip extension, conditioning, and a silky smooth hip hinge pattern.
In my years of both training and coaching in a public gym setting, I have never seen a proper swing. I’ve seen folks who squat the swing, bend the swing, and do all kinds of other things in an attempt to swing, but never a true kettlebell swing.
The kb swing is an explosive hip drive with minimal knee bend and maximal hip bend. This is very similar to the deadlift, only faster, and with less load.
Here are 5 ways to train this incredible movement.
This is the primary way I prefer to teach the swing right off the bat, when I feel a student can benefit from the kettlebell swing. The reset tends to teach how to create force out the hinge position from scratch. By stopping the momentum after each rep, you can feel the tension of the hinge longer, and hold a proper position out front to ensure proper bell path. Give these a try if you are just starting out, need to work on single rep explosion, or need to relearn the proper mechanics of the swing.
This is one of my favorites for a few reasons. The band adds significant resistance on the way to the top, so you have to recruit more power from your hips to achieve a good lockout position. The second reason I like the band around the bell is that from the top position, the band promotes a better hinge. If you try to squat it, the band will go slack, and will feel very awkward when trying to move back to lockout.
This is a nice progressions up from the double arm kb swing vs. band seen above this video. Anytime we are forced to generate more power from lower in the body, we put a premium on form and execution of the exercise. Since only one hand is guiding the kettlebell, it is essential that you explode out of the hinge position with fury and intent. The band will resist the top half of the movement before lockout, demanding that you accelerate to the top.
This one involves a bit more coordination, but it’s a great way to challenge your athleticism as well as proper kettlebell path with a single arm. In any kettlebell swing variation, the arms are involved minimally. The more you can use the power of your posterior chain to drive out of the hinged position, the more efficient you’ll be. The transition at the top should be relatively easy, as the kettelbell should basically be floating and ready for you to catch it and sit back into your loaded position.
If you want to load up the swing, while getting into a sumo like deadlift stance, this kettlebell swing variation is for you. I’d never have anyone jump right into double kettlebell swings without mastering the single bell swing, just as I would have anyone swing the kettlebell without showing proficiency in the hinge and deadlift patterns first. This is a progression, and can be great at working on power development and work capacity from a sumo deadlift stance.
These are some of the more fun and challenging ways I enjoy swinging the kettlebell, along with programming them into strength and conditioning programs for clients.