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Kettlebell Swings…The Good…The Bad…And The Ugly Technique!
Wow I’m throwing the Eastwood lines at you right and left today! It is no secret that I’ve always been a huge fan of Clint Eastwood. I think if someone were to make a movie about my life that it should be him! Ok, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away. Anyways, the topic of today’s big discussion has to do with an absolute awesome lift that you are probably very familiar with by now which is the one and only kettlebell swing. So what makes this exercise so effective? I would say that the thing that makes the kettlebell swing lift so effective is because of it’s Sudden Impact. Ha, I gotcha again. You just got hit with another Eastwood reference.
Ok, enough of the knee slapping laughter. So what do I mean about sudden impact? Well, the biggest thing about kettlebell swings is that as long as it is performed correctly the impact that it has on both your muscular and cardiovascular system quickly becomes very evident. I mean if you want to wake up in a hurry all you have to do is pick up the kettlebell for some kettlebell swings.
This is something that I always surprise folks with when talking about the physical benefits of this lift. So what is proper technique? I mean Brandon there are the RKC Hardstyle kettlebell swings, the Crossfit overhead kettlebell swings, the single arm kettlebell swings, etc.. So which one is right? Well, as a strength and conditioning specialist I can say that there are different styles to many different lifts.
For instance, if we use the deadlift as an example to compare there are many styles of deadlifts. There is the standard deadlift, the sumo deadlift, romanian deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, kettlebell deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, and on and on. I think you get the point. In my professional opinion I look at the swing lift and its goal as being able to achieve high muscular output along with optimizing efficiency. I am a big believer that as long as you can maintain solid core stability, a neutral spine, and produce hip and leg drive then you will have yourself an effective training implement when it comes to kettlebell swings or any lift that similarly requires these demands.
Now having said that, I’m not sticking the .44 Magnum in your face and saying it’s my way or the highway, but I am saying that I know what works and that achieving certain physical benefits are consistent with any style of training along with the technique that is implemented. Protecting your joints, protecting your spine, improving performance, and lifting heavier weight will get you better on the field of play, in the ring, or on the court, PERIOD! If you don’t believe this then I am pulling out the .44 Magnum Eastwood style.
Kettlebell swings to me are no different than any other smartly applied lift in terms of tweaking and achieving the best technique. After experience and some correction through the eyes of an experienced strength coach or trainer the most efficient lifting technique can be achieved for optimal physical benefit. Look, I’m a certified strength and conditioning specialist and all of us NSCA coaches and trainers understand the implementation of effective training tools. The point is that there are so many options out there today for the purpose of training the body that guys like me have to be tuned into what is there and how to apply it for your a*s kicking benefit! I mean if you are going to do something then do it all out, right?
When it comes to kettlebell swings there is a lot of experience and time that goes into mastering this technique just like there would be for the deadlift, bench press, or squat. Understanding the proper way to do it and actually being able to feel what is most natural comes with hours and hours of practice, persistence, and time. Now having said this I can help to speed up the process. I mean who doesn’t want to handle the iron bell with the same kind of precision and intimidation as Dirty Harry did with the most powerful handgun in the world! Do you feel lucky? Well do you punk? Ok, I got carried away again, but you get the point.
In the world of strength and conditioning it is the power of hip drive that I love to teach to my students. You see I was talking with a young new up and coming Jedi of strength the other day about this very trait. He is a BJJ practitioner and is looking to further advance his mat skills with some bone crushing, ball busting, human horsepower level of physical dominance. I think he wants to be the BJJ version of Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum!
In a nutshell I proceeded to tell him how the one basic human function of hip flexion/extension is the premise of most any athletic feat. Once you are able to perform hip flexion/extension as seen during basic human moves such as squatting, deadlifting, and of course kettlebell swings you can significantly administer a greater a*s whoopin to your opponent on the mat. Needless to say, he was SOLD!
The reason kettlebell swings are so valuable is that not only do you have to learn hip flexion/ extension for the swings themselves, but once you do it immediately flows right into other related kettlebell and non-kettlebell lifts with more seamless effort. If you take a look at the little kettlebell swing to snatch complex that I perform in the video below you’ll notice that while transitioning from the double arm swing to single arm to overhead snatch that my hips continue with the same drive and motion with each flexion/extension move.
The point is that once you are able to master this technique then you can be successful with most any athletic lift. Kettlebell swings are tremendously valuable in this way. Producing hip drive is imperative when performing kettlebell swings, standard barbell deadlifts, power cleans, or anything else with these related demands. The key is ensuring that you can optimally do this without shortchanging yourself with either a lax ROM or lifting technique.
Once again, if you haven’t already heard I am totally excited about having my blog published and available for Amazon Kindle users! That’s right, you can now subscribe to view my blog right on your Kindle. I can now infiltrate your digital reader the way I have your laptop for all these years! You can subscribe to my blog right here on Amazon! If you have been following my blog for a while or if you are viewing this post from your Kindle then please feel free to leave a customer review of the blog so I can infiltrate others the way I have you now for a while! If you don’t I am going to throw a kettlebell through your kitchen door! 😉
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