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Kettlebell Swing: Build, Prevent, Rehab

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The most important movement in kettlebell training is the kettlebell swing. This movement provides an extremely large amount of benefit. Not many people think about the kettlebell swing being a great exercise for athletes. The kettlebell itself has been given a status as being a tool for fitness alone. However, I will do my best to prove that athletes should always include the kettlebell swing into their training. I will tell a quick story, about 2 years ago I stopped training like a powerlifter and dedicated a lot of my time to doing functional or unconventional training. The kettlebell swing was the movement that my entire program was surrounded by. I decided recently to see where my strength stood out of curiosity and my strength maintained. Deadlifting 800 on a trap bar prior to the change and I maintained the same strength. I attribute that retention of strength greatly to heavy kettlebell swings.

Kettlebell Swing Basics

  • Feet pointing forward outside hip width
  • Hinge at the hips with a controlled neutral spine
  • The bell should be 1-2 feet in front of you so you can tilt it towards you
  • Pull the kettlebell between your legs and explode through your forearms with your hips and pull your kneecaps up
  • Allow the kettlebell to travel, your arms are not active in the movement at all they are just like a chain on a wrecking ball
  • On the decent wait until your forearms touch your ribcage before you hinge for another rep
  • The breathing should be in on the eccentric and out on the concentric. The core should be tight throughout the movement

Build

The kettlebell swing is a great builder of performance. I would not say it is a great tool for building muscle but rather a great builder of explosive strength. The posterior chain involvement in this exercise is only going to improve an athletes ability to produce force when needed. Many people believe that the deadlift if the best movement for developing this explosive power but I debate that the kettlebell swing is the best. It requires dynamic strength, constant contraction, it places an emphasis on the entire posterior chain. It is also safer, you can use a 48kg kettlebell for 2 hand swings and get an extreme benefit just like hitting heavy deadlifts but without the real risk of injury.

Prevent

If you want to build a bulletproof posterior chain you should start with well-executed kettlebell swing. It is important to know that doing the kettlebell swing with the right load and correct rep scheme. This can create a posterior chain that is built to handle almost anything. It is will also improve your ability to produce force longer and not fail. The conditioning aspect of the kettlebell swing will help with your ability to prevent injury.

Rehab

Many people who get a slight lower back injury have used light kettlebell swings to improve the injury. They are able to force blood into the entire system which promotes recovery but it also helps with some traction fo the spine to an extent. The kettlebell swing is a great way to improve your bodies ability to maintain an organized spine throughout the entire range of motion. This is important for creating an environment that promotes function through your rehabilitation from injury.

Conclusion

The kettlebell swing is a great movement for rehabilitation, as well as prevention of injury. However, for me as a strength coach, it is a great builder of athletes. It is can develop great explosive power. As many people already know that the posterior chain is where all the power comes from when we are talking about an explosive movement. The kettlebell swing will help develop that aspect of your athletic abilities. The wide range of available weights makes it a rather efficient tool!

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