Kettlebell swings are a great bang for your buck exercise. Not only are they great to burn fat and get a nice butt lift, but they are amazing for developing power and strength.
The set-up of your kettlebell swing can either set you up for success or put you at an increase risk of injury.
Common mistakes include:
Mistake #1: Hips start above the shoulders.
When you start your kettlebell swing with your hips above your shoulders you are using your back to start your swing. This was my biggest mistake when I first started learning how to swing a kettlebell. Once I drop my hips I stopped having low back pain with my swing.
Correction: Drop your hips below your shoulders. Think about having soft knees. They bend, but the don’t come forward.
Mistake #2: The upper back is rounded.
One of the awesome things about kettlebell swings it that when done properly it engages the whole body. If you think about the body as a chain, when we connect the whole chain we are going to be our strongest and get the best results. When we flatten our upper back, we are engaging our lats strengthening the chain.
Correction: Start with a flat upper back. Think about breaking the kettlebell handle in half to help flatten your upper back.
Mistake #3: The kettlebell starts too far out in front.
When you start the kettlebell too far out in front. It’s going to be harder to hike the kettlebell back. It causes you lean forward and shift weight onto your toes. Ideally when we start a swing weight should be slightly more towards your heels.
Correction: Start the kettlebell slightly in front of the feet. 4-6 inches is a good place to start.
Mistake #4: The kettlebell in an upright position.
When you think about the swing it is done in a smooth arch. By tilting the kettlebell towards you are creating a smooth flow of the kettlebell. By starting with it flat and the handle upright, the start of your swing jerky. It may not seem like a big deal with the lighter weights, but as the weight increases the tilt will make a smoother initial hike and help protect your back.
Correction: Set yourself up with good habits at all weight and be sure to tilt the kettlebell back before you start your swing.
Mistake #5: The kettlebell is too close and in line with the feet.
When the kettlebell starts in line with your feet you will not be able to use your weight to help hike the kettlebell back. The quick jerk that would be needed to get the kettlebell going puts your back in a risky place.
Correction: By starting the kettlebell 4-6 inches in front of your feet you will be able to shift your weight slightly back to your heels and hike the kettlebell back safely.
Correct set up: As you set up for your kettlebell swing make sure the kettlebell starts about 4-6 inches in front of you. Hinge by pushing your butt back with a soft bend in your knee. This should put you in a good position with your shoulders above your hips. You may feel a little tightness in your hamstrings (upper back part of your legs). Shift your weight slightly to your heels. Imagine you are breaking the kettlebell handle in half. This will help to flatten your back. You are now ready to hike the bell back.