EXCERPT FROM THE COURSE MANUAL
CORE LIFT NUMBER ONE: SWING
VIEW SWING VIDEO: http://youtu.be/Kb5NiUs_zlg
The Swing could be described as the engine that drives the kettlebell in many other lifts featured in High Intensity Kettlebell Fitness Program, and it’s where every new lifter starts out. In Swing, the kettlebell literally swings back and forth between the lifter’s legs as it’s held in one hand (all lifts in the HIKF program are one-hand, one bell lifts). A lot of information that’s contained in the guidelines on the Swing will be repeated with future movements. It is for that reason, we’ll devote a lot of time to this deceptively technical lift. It’s imperative that you master Swing, the foundation of all other lifts.
First Things First
If you’re not sure what weight bell to use, choose the lighter option. Stand about two feet behind the selected kettlebell with your feet approximately hip width apart. If you’re having a hard time finding your most balanced stance, simply jump in place a few inches off the floor. Take note of where you feet land. Chances are this position is your most stable platform and the stance from which you should start. This probably will be your stance for all future lifts.
Set the angle of the bell handle at 30 to 45 degrees (as you look down at the floor) with the inside edge of the handle rearward. This angle allows more stability as the bell travels in a horizontal arc rearward. Keeping your feet planted, bend at the hips and place one hand over the bell handle palm down (off center towards the body’s midline). Grip the handle and allow the thumb to clamp down over the index finger, forming a finger-lock grip with the thumb over the index finger.. This mechanical lock of thumb over index finger provides additional grip strength, sparing the ring, and middle fingers (connected to finger flexors in forearm) from the having to do all the work, preventing forearm fatigue.
The feet are flat on the floor. The bell handle is at 45 degrees. One hand grips the bell, palm down with a finger-lock grip. The upper body is hinged over the hips with a slight knee bend forming your initial 3-Point Stance.
Moving the Kettlebell
Maintain a relaxed grip on the kettlebell, with the finger-lock grip engaged as you stand up. If you don’t interfere with the process, the free falling bell will naturally swing back, unless you stop it! Be prepared, there’s a good chance your arm and shoulder muscles will interfere and try and control the ascent or descent of the kettlebell on the first few swings. To help resist this urge, visualize your arm as a dangling chain, with your hand as a hook holding the kettlebell, similar to the mechanism of a wrecking ball.
Exhale as you hinge at the hips and let gravity take the bell back between your legs as far as it will go. After the kettlebell swings all the way back, change direction, allowing the bell to swing forward. There’s a definite sweet spot (in the direction change) that maximizes the momentum (think about being on a backyard swing), not wasting any energy as you thrust forward. If you move forward too soon, you’ll miss the sweet spot and waste energy, and you’ll fall short. As the bell swings back, the same angle of the bell handle is maintained, and the bell is held steady, not allowed to shake or rotate from side to side. The finger-lock grip is maintained throughout the Swing.
The arm and torso travels perfectly in time with the kettlebell, as you allow the hips to fold and the knees to unlock and go soft (this is not a deep knee bend). Much like a forward bend in yoga (with a soft knee), the back and spine are allowed to achieve a neutral position as you follow the kettlebell.
After the natural momentum takes the kettlebell as far back as it will go, there will be a natural direction change (bell now swinging forward), and the lifter inhales and gets the hips (glutes and hamstrings) and knees (quads) behind this forward motion at the perfect moment (earlier mentioned sweet spot). As the bell swings forward the lifters does a slight but powerful bending and straightening of the knee joint.
The quick execution of knee bending (flexion) and straightening (extension) happens just as the bell begins to swing forward. This deliberate action actually alters the direction of the kettlebell in the forward swing, but only if the lifter’s elbow is allowed to bend just as the knees straighten, adding a little vertical rise to an otherwise purely horizontal arc (see video). Once the knees are straightened there is no more deliberate force exerted on the kettlebell by the lifter. The forward momentum is enough to drive the bell to about waist to chest height (not higher). In this regard, the lifter is literally riding the bell up and down after the initial thrust forward.
As the kettlebell reaches the height of its forward motion, be sure to stand up fully and allow the back to relax. This allows the spine to achieve a neutral gravity position (skeleton is stacked), even for a brief moment, and rest (relieving back tension) before the bell changes direction and quickly drops. This seemingly weightless moment (before the bell drops) is where some of the pressure in the hand is also released and the kettlebell appears to float in front of you. You’ll know you’ve executed a proper Swing when this weightless moment is first experienced.
When performed correctly, the kettlebell will drop rapidly and the lifter will need to exhale and quickly follow the bell (bend forward from the hips) while keeping the hand, torso, and kettlebell moving as one. There should be no pull or noticeable tug on arm or shoulder when the change of direction is made either on high or low part of the Swing, as the hand assumes control of the bell (fingerlock) once again. But that’s possible only if the kettlebell and the body are moving in perfect sync. After a few swings, say five or ten on each side, start to notice how your bodyweight shifts on your feet. As the bell swings behind your body there should be a shift of bodyweight to the balls of the feet. As the bell swings forward, you should feel a shift of your body weight to the heels. When done properly, you’ll get the sensation of almost scooping under the kettlebell with your hips, really feeling the work in the hips, quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
SWING REVIEW OF MAJOR POINTS (MAX SCORE: 10)
· Stance (1)
o 3 point stance
o Feet hip width or slightly wider / Jump test
· Breathing (1)
o Exhale down, inhale up
· Finger Lock (1)
o Thumb over index finger
· Handle Angle (1)
o 30 to 45 degrees
· Force Generation (3)
o Knee Extension
o Weight Shift
· Follow the Kettlebell (1)
· Weightless Moment (1)
· Bent Elbow (1)
· Common Errors
o Excessive Knee Flexion
o Over Gripping
o Short Swinging
o Using too much upper body
READ MORE ABOUT THE KBNY HIGH INTENSITY
KETTLEBELL FITNESS TRAINERS COURSE: CLICK HERE
The course has been approved by the American Council on Exercise