Kettlebell swings are the most basic kettlebell exercise, but it builds incredible strength and endurance. Swings work the legs and back in an explosive movement perfect for conditioning athletes and martial artists.
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If you have kettlebells, swings are great
Remember when you're working with kettlebells, they have the right of way. If you lose control, just drop it and step back - don't injure yourself!
Also, either do the exercise barefoot or in thin weight-lifting shoes. Athletic shoes with a lot of give and bounce may unbalance you & won't help with the exercise.
For the swing, squat down leading with your butt and keeping your back straight. After you pick up the kettlebell with both hands, you will snap your hips and knees forward so that you stand straight up. This will swing it up in front of you.
Remember, your arms aren't doing the movement, your hips and legs are. You should swing the kettlebell up to head or neck altitude and keep you entire body straight at the end of each repetition
Squat back as much as possible to get as much 'swing'. This long swing from the hips is key to building the endurance that kettlebell swings are known for.
Do your first few swings slowly, bringing the kettlebell up to speed. Your first exercise or two will not be as tough, since you're getting used to the movement and being safe.
But by the third workout at the most you'll have gotten the hang of it. The picture below shows the correct beginning and ending position.
Also, breathe in on the preparation movement (the squat) and out on the power movement (the standing up snap). Thins keeps your body movement coordinated, and makes sure you keep breathing when it gets tough...
Be careful when you first start. More than any other exercise, the swing is one I can start after taking some time off, think I haven't done as much as I could, and then be horribly sore in the morning ;-)
Once you've learned basic kettlebell swings, you can do them one handed. This requires more control and balance on your part - which makes it even better for developing functional strength!
I have a love/hate relationship with the swing: love for the endurance it develops, but hate for how tiring it is. But it develops awesome leg strength!
Adding a kettlebell swing to your normal weight training workout is a great way of getting the most out of this exercise. It'll also give you other exercises to compliment this one.
OK, that's the swing. Do it and other kettlebell exercises and include them in your workout routines.
Keep it safe, and keep it intense. That's all there is to it.
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
Tsatsouline, Pavel. 2006. Enter the Kettlebell!: Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen. St. Paul, MN: Dragon Door Publications.
Tsatsouline, Pavel. 2001. The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness For Hard Living Comrades. St. Paul, MN: Dragon Door Publications.
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