Why You (and your partner) Need To Start Swinging
If you and/or your partner aren’t already swingers, you need to stop what you’re doing and seriously consider joining in on all the fun! Swingers are awesome people! They’re strong, fit, and usually have some nice buns…
Just to be clear, I’m talking about people who swing kettlebells… We’re on the same page, right?!
Swingers are badass! And today I’m going to show you how you can quickly become an avid swinger yourself. But first I’ll share why should you want to in the first place.
Ballistics, power, and speed; tight, muscular, and sexy!
You don’t have to know me very well to know that I talk a lot about kettlebells and furthermore kettlebell swings.
According to former Master SFG Instructor, Mark Reifkind, “The swing is the most beneficial exercise anyone can do. Scalable to a 70-year old grandmother and to a 20-year old super athlete.”
Dan John, another prominent figure in the fitness world calls the kettlebell swing the “fat-burning, athlete-builder.” Who doesn’t want that!?
What’s the big deal?
People have been powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and using kettlebells for a long, long time. At this point I think it’s safe to say that if you’re not already in on the fun you’re late to the party.
If you’re familiar with the benefits of a stronger posterior chain (your entire back-side, not just your backside) then you can likely see the parallels between the deadlift and the kettlebell swing. If not, here’s what you get when you train your posterior chain.
- Decreased risk of injury
- Hard glutes! That look good too
- A solid upper back and set of shoulders
- Rock solid core – cause lifting heavy weight will do that to you
- Overall badass who’s stronger, faster, and looks great too!
Now, take everything you just read and add a dynamic/ballistic component to it. The result is your kettlebell swing and a host of additional benefits that follow.
A Hinge Is a Hinge, Is a Hinge
Take a look at this video and tell me what you see…
If you stop and only focus on my hips, you’ll clearly see the similarities between each of the three exercises shown in that video. Hence, a hinge is a hinge, is a hinge. However in my opinion, for the vast majority of people, the kettlebell swing just happens to be the best one you should use. But that doesn’t mean all other hinges fall by the wayside.
Before we go any further I feel it’s important to address a core exercise called the suitcase carry. I’ll tie into how this fits our swing conversation in just a minute.
The suitcase carry is quite possibly the easiest exercise to perform, in fact most people do these at the airport and grocery store and don’t even realize it.
Pick up a weight, hold it at your side, and carry it.
Here’s why it’s great:
- Shoulder Stability
- QL Work
- Anti-Rotation/Lateral Flexion
Yes you have to be strong enough to hold the weight but the magic happens on the side opposite of the weight being held. The offset in weight triggers your obliques to fire, which happen to be the muscles that give you the sexy “V” you’re looking for.
Your obliques to do two things…
- Rotate you from one side to the other
- And resist you from rotating from one side to the other
The latter is where you stand to gain a lot more strength. Stand tall, squeeze the handle, and walk. It’s the simplest core exercise you’ll ever do. Not easy, simple.
Now, insert all the information you just read and add a dynamic component to it. You get the 1-Arm Kettlebell Swing – do you see a pattern here? Here’s what a 1-arm swing should look like
The 1-handed swing is difficult to perform properly for many people. For that I recommend practicing and owning the 2-handed swing first (traditional hard-style swing).
Here are few tips that will help you own the swing and become an all-around badass.
Oh, That’s a hinge!
Most people can’t hinge well simply because they don’t know how and can’t control it. The tall kneeling hinge is a great way to introduce what the movement feels like.
Take it up a notch by performing the reaching hinge.
Lastly bring your arms in as if you were doing an actual swing, this will help pattern the hinge movement and make learning the swing even easier.
Down, Set, Hike
The hike is a great drill to help you own your hinge and learn the first phase of the swing.
You’ll notice it’s almost identical to the air swing you performed in the last step only now performed with a kettlebell.
Grease the groove here for a while and if need by practice your swings in the form of a hike. When you’re ready, progress to the final step.
Putting it altogether we have the swing and power swing progressions. The power swing is a natural progression from the hike. Perform an individual swing, coming to a stop after each rep. This is great for patterning the hinge and creating a better, more powerful swing. When you’re ready progress to traditional swings, just start swinging after a few power swing reps.
Once you’ve mastered the 2-handed swing there are a few coaching cues that will help transition your skills over to the 1-handed swing.
- Forearm to the inner thigh
- Focus on a strong lockout
- Picture a triangle in the upper portion of your inner thighs, upon swinging down make your forearm meet the upper inside portion of your thigh. This will help make sure the weight stays in your hips and the bell stays above your knees.
- Focusing on a strong lockout at the top is only going to help you swing using your hips (rather than muscle it like most people do initially). This will also give you that “floating” effect you look for in the swing when the bell is essentially weightless for a split second before traveling back down between the legs.
- And of course, breathe! This is the number one thing that fails when the body encounters a challenge. Breathing halts and now the respiratory system functions as a postural stabilizer. This is not what you want, ever! Check yourself and make sure you’re breathing when swinging. A hard tss! At the top will help your lockout. Performing a quick double-sniff through your nose on the way down will help you regain your breath for the next swing.
Workout Plan – S&S
Now you’re ready to put in some serious work! If you read my article last week, you can easily combine these two movements – the getup and the swing – and follow a popular workout routine called Simple and Sinister. You can my simple and sinister blog post here.
Every workout is essentially the same; you’ll perform 100 swings followed by 10 getups. You can train up to 7 days a week if you’d like, although I prefer to stick to 5 and use the other 1-2 to either fully rest or do some light work with both the swing and getup.
If you’re new to both exercises choose some of the variations shown in both this article and last weeks as well. Make it a goal to slowly learn and master each movement first before jumping into 100 swings and 10 getups. The easiest solution there is to hire a coach.
Swinging isn’t easy, it takes commitment, hard work, and determination, if you can give all that, than you’re in for a world of fun – and great results too!