Optimizing The Kettlebell Swing Part 8: Fine-Tuning The Swing
Welcome back for part 8 of our 10-part series on Optimizing The Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing!
Last week we wrapped up the instructional series by talking about The Power of Your Breath.
In that post we talked about 2 different styles of breathing you can use to help improve the efficiency of your swing, as well as help you lower your risk of injury and increase your strength and power potential.
Those two styles of breathing are like opposite sides of the same coin.
On one side you have the relaxing “Yin” of deep inhalation followed by deep exhalation.
This type of breathing is what you’d use during a yoga class or meditation session.
The opposite of that - the “Yang” - we shared was the Hardstyle Tss!
In which you sniff air quickly and sharply through your nose (inhalation) followed by a forceful Tss! (exhalation).
Proper breathing mechanics is a skill, and therefore must be practiced just like every other skill you develop as you learn, train, and master the Hardstyle Swing.
We wrapped things up by sharing a fantastic training routine you can use to help you get better at both of the 2 styles of breathing…
Today we’re diving into the aspects of fine-tuning your swing.
Back To The Basics
Much like a golfers swing, you’ll continuously fine-tune your swing - that is if you intend on mastering the art of the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.
When the time comes - and you’re looking to refine your swing - referring back to the basics is a great place to start.
In spite of how much you feel you might know, use the pieces of this article and challenge yourself to approach the learning process again with a beginners mind.
Far easier said than done.
Honestly though, it’s the best advice we can give you!
Once you have a good hold on the 2-Handed Swing naturally you’ll want to move onto the 1-Handed Swing. Next the Clean and Press and likely the Snatch as well…
Along the way, it's easy to get lost in the pursuit of learning a new skill. You’ll forget about everything you’ve worked on to learn the 2-Handed Swing and how those techniques are still applicable in the 1-Hand Swing, Clean, and Snatch (more on that in Part 10).
Remember; your 2-Handed Swing is only as good as your deadlift.
If you get lost and feel like you swing is “off”, then bring back the Kettlebell Deadlift and Static Stomp Deadlift from Part 3.
If you feel like the timing of your swing is off refer back to Part 6.
Feel like you need to bring things back to the very beginning?
Revisit Part 2, Finding Your Hinge.
Throughout this series we’ve shared with you the exact structure we use to coach ordinary people - just like you - how to safely and effectively train the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.
The hardest part of success is simply showing up.
Punch the clock consistently and you’ll have a world-class swing in no time.
That being said, there are a couple additional training routines we wanted to share that will naturally help you learn, train, and master the swing.
You know you have a good swing when you can make a heavy swing look and feel like a light swing - and vice versa.
So, grab yourself a heavy bell (a safe weight of course).
Then grab yourself a lighter bell… like 5-6 sizes lighter - or even the “heaviest” and “lightest” that you have.
What do we mean?
For example we have ladies at Evolution who can comfortably 2-Hand Swing a 48k bell.
So, they’ll grab a 48k bell and a 12k or 8k bell.
Opposite ends of the spectrum…
Now here’s the challenge:
Set a timer for 15-minutes and go back and forth between 10 reps with your heavy bell and 10 reps with your lighter bell.
The idea is that both swings should look and feel the same.
Think about what that requires from you…
You’ll need to prime yourself for the heavy swing, root your feet into the floor, and practice all the steps in your Pre-Flight Checklist back in Part 4.
You’ll want to use your breath to a high degree in order to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as possible.
Once you hike the bell back, you’ll need to use that sharp, Hardstyle method of breathing to maintain intra-abdominal pressure throughout your set.
Once your set of 10 is over, shake it out and take a rest - this is where you practice your relaxing, long, slow, deep inhalation and long, slow deep exhalations…
Now step over to the 8k bell and do the same thing.
Make the 8k bell look and feel like the 48k bell.
It’s simple… but far from easy.
Pay attention to what you’re feeling here. Your body will tell you whether or not you’re on the right track.
Using a video to capture some footage will help and make it easier to adjust from set to set. We don’t have mirrors at Evolution and that’s on purpose; we want you to FEEL what you’re doing, not see it.
Your eyes can - and will - deceive you, especially if you rely on them for feedback.
Instead sense the ground, the tension you’re creating throughout your body, the float of the bell, your posture at the top, and go off of what you’re feeling.
Keep pinging back and forth taking plenty of rest as needed throughout the 15-minute block.
Bring Back The Static Stomp Deadlift
I know we mentioned it at the beginning of the post, but unless we mention it again you probably won’t give it the credit it’s due as a powerful exercise that will ABSOLUTELY help refine your swing.
The Static Stomp Deadlift IS the top position of the swing.
Using it as we mentioned back in Part 3, is a foolproof way to enhance your swing.
Much like our “Light/Heavy” routine we just shared, here you’ll want to grab 2 bells as well; a Static Stomp Deadlift bell and a 2-Handed Swing bell.
Practice going back and forth between sets of Static Stomp Deadlifts where you’re holding your lockout for 15-30 seconds.
Remember the point of this drill is for your to scan your body for tension leaks.
Wherever you find a tension leak, that’s an area you’ll want to figure out how to generate tension in.
If you can’t create tension in a slower lift - such as the Static Stomp Deadlift - you’re absolutely not going to create it during a fast, explosive movement such as the Swing.
And that’s what makes the Static Stomp Deadlift so great; every time you do it you understand a little more how to generate more tension in your lockout. Then you apply that tension to your next set of swings…
The back and forth effect - much like the “Light/Heavy” routine above - is like having a coach right there with you; your body - and the feeling you’re sensing throughout your body - will tell you if you’re on the right track or not.
Are you catching on to the fact that we like a lot of our routines to do the coaching for you?
One other important note here; your lockout in your swing will only be as good as your Static Stomp Deadlift lockout.
Therefore make sure you’re in the proper position; you don’t want to carry over any poor habits into the swing.
Along this same train of “self-coaching thought” is a great routine we shared last week; Breath Ladders.
You can’t help but improve the efficiency of your breath and in turn improve your swing from training Breath Ladders..
Another coaching cue we repeat often here at Evolution is the term, “Tinker with it.”
While we usually use it to refer to nutritional habits - we’re big on Precision Nutrition here - you can absolutely apply it to your swing, clean, snatch, etc.
In spite of how much your coach may know, you still know your own body better than anyone else.
So, trust your gut!
As we’ve mentioned throughout this post; refer back to the basics.
Check your ego at the door and dedicate yourself to the process of mastery and the results will follow…
Play around with different cues.
Another one we constantly use around here is, “Drive your feet into the floor.”
Even after repeating it day-after-day, week-after-week, some of our members don’t fully grasp it until 6-9 months later - at which point they usually repeat what we’ve been saying to them with a bit of excitement. “Oh, drive your feet through the floor!”
The truth is that the same effect can be seen by telling someone to “stand up as hard as possible”, or, “stand up as straight as possible.”
Different cues work for different people.
Play around with what works best for you and then do that consistently!
What To Look For Next Week
Make sure you check back next week when we dive into Part 9 of the series: Programming The Swing.
We’ll give you the skills you need to make professional-grade workouts that you can use in conjunction with your current routine or as standalone programs.
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