Kettlebell swings are a great bang for your buck exercise. They challenge your core, help develop power and strength, build cardiovascular strength, and pull grip strength.
While swings are great, when not done properly, you put yourself at risk for injury. It’s important to make sure the setup of your swing is correct. In case you missed it, check out some of the common swing set up mistakes.
Here are 7 mistakes that I commonly see with kettlebell swings and how to fix them:
Mistake #1: The Lean Back
At the top of your swing, you should be in a tight plank. By leaning back, you are not using your core and you are putting extra strain on your low back.
The Fix: Practice a hardstyle plank. Get into a plank position and give a long exhale pulling elbows towards the toes and squeezing your butt. Hold your plank for one exhale and then relax for a few seconds before your next plank. Practice this hardstyle plank 3-4 times and then go back into your swing focusing on holding that plank at the top of your swing.
Mistake #2: Hips Don’t Follow Through
Power from your kettlebell swing comes from the hips. If you don’t get your hips all the way through you will not be able to get the maximal about of power.
The Fix: Think about being that plank at the top. If that doesn’t help, practice a vertical jump. If you don’t push your hips through on a vertical jump, you will barely go anywhere.
Mistake #3: It’s Squatty
The kettlebell swing is based on the hinge. You will be able to get the max power from this position. It becomes squatty when your knees come forward and torso stays more vertical.
The Fix: Don’t be afraid to let your chest go towards the ground. You can practice one swing at a time too. If that doesn’t help, practice your hinge with dowel/stick. Place the stick vertically down your back making sure it touches your head, upper back, and butt. Push your butt backwards keeping your knees “soft” and all three points on the stick. You can also stand with the backs of your legs touching a chair. When you do your hinge make sure your lower leg stays in contact with the chair.
Mistake #4: Shallow Hinge
Like I mentioned, power in the kettlebell swing comes from the hips and you get that in your hinge. If you don’t get enough depth in your hinge, you are missing out on a power.
The Fix: Make sure you have a good bend in your knees, but they aren’t coming forward. Then think about touching the kettlebell to the wall behind you. You can even have someone stand off to the side behind you and hold a piece of paper a few inches behind you. When you hinge, aim for the kettlebell to tap the paper.
Mistake #5: Favoring Toes or Heels
Movement starts from the ground up. If you don’t have a solid base, it will be really hard to be in a tight plank at the top.
The Fix: Remove your shoes. It’s harder to balance on a big fully pillow when compared to a hard floor. Our shoes are like giant pillows. They can be harder to balance and even guide you onto your toes/heels. Think about clawing your feet into the ground. This will help those toes from coming off the ground. You can practice your hinge. As you begin to stand up exhale and press though your feet.
Mistake #6: Early Hinge
When you hinge too early the kettlebell will drop below your knees, which will pull on your back.
The Fix: Think about playing chicken with your hips. Wait until the last second to hinge. You can also think about keeping the kettlebell as high as you can on your legs as you hinge back.
Mistake #7: All Arms– As I mentioned before, the power from your kettlebell swing comes from your hips, not the arms.
The Fix: Think about your arms as noodles and your hands as hooks. You can also try going to a heavier bell. At a heavier weight you will not be able to use your arms to lift the weight. If you need a little more help than that, grab a towel. Thread the towel through the horns of the kettlebell. The horns should be perpendicular to you. Tilt the kettlebell back. The towel should be at the top when tilted back. Hands should be as close to the towel as possible. (The above picture is just a visual, hands should be closer to the kettlebell.) The towel will help prevent you from using your arms.
Key points for a good swing:
1. Good set up.
2. Deep hinge.
3. Exhale and squeeze you butt at the top of each swing creating a tight plank.
4. Arms are noodles handles are hooks.
5. Power comes from your hips.