Why take the time to do at least six different exercises when you can hit your glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders, quads, and more and knock off some heart-pumping cardio at the same time with one move?
This promise may sound like something you hear on an infomercial or see in huge print on a weight-loss supplement bottle, but the kettlebell swing really does work virtually every muscle in your body while boosting your metabolism. And with its focus on your posterior chain, you can sculpt a butt that even Kim Kardashian will envy.
But just like any other exercise, it’s only effective if it is done properly. Although it is quite simple when broken down, the kettlebell swing isn’t easy, and performing it without the essential foundation could render it not only ineffective but harmful as well.
The swing is comprised of two key movements:
Hip hinge: sitting back into your hips with a flat back while pulling the kettlebell between your legs (A great way to be sure you are hinging properly is to stand a few feet away from a wall and reach your hips back to touch it. You can even reach your fingertips back toward to wall to mimic the hand position in the swing.)
|Lockout: snapping your hips and standing up tall with your glutes and quads squeezed, abs braced, and the kettlebell out in front of you (notice the straight line from ear to ankle)|
Once your muscle memory is established, it’s time to become an expert at the kettlebell deadlift, which is essentially the same movement as the swing (hip hinge and tall lockout) but done slowly as opposed to dynamically. The most common mistake people make when trying to perform a swing is doing a squat movement as opposed to a deadlift or hinge movement, so master this first.
1. Place the kettlebell between your feet and sit back into your hips until you can touch the handle. Squeeze under your armpits to engage your lats and grasp the handle tightly, keeping your spine neutral and knees soft, as shown.
When you are able to correctly deadlift with confidence, you’re ready to swing. First try doing the hip hinge and lockout (shown above) without the bell. When you’re comfortable with those, grab a kettlebell and follow these steps, being absolutely sure the entire time that your spine remains neutral and you don’t lift the bell with your arms or raise it above chest level in order to protect your back and shoulders.
1. Begin in the bottom position of the deadlift, placing the kettlebell about a foot in front of you.
|2. Pull your shoulders back to engage your lats (the muscles under your armpits). As you inhale, quickly pull the bell up into your groin with your elbows straight.|
|3. Push your feet through the ground as you extend your hips and project the bell out in front of you, squeezing your glutes and quads and bracing your abs as you exhale. For a moment, the bell should be weightless as it floats up to shoulder level.|
4. Once the bell begins to drift back down, inhale as you pull it back through your legs using your lats to return to the starting position and continue swinging.
Try using the swing as a skill and power exercise until you become proficient, then use it as form of conditioning by doing swing intervals such as 20 swings followed by a minute of rest for 15 minutes. Before you know it, you’ll be swinging your way to a strong, beautiful booty.
Neghar Fonooni is a fitness coach, presenter, and blogger on the east coast via Los Angeles. She is the founder of Eat, Lift and be Happy, a blog and online business that educates and inspires readers to find their best possible nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle strategies. Fonooni is also a co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, the Women’s Fitness Authority, and a contributing writer at Schwarzanegger.com.