The kettlebell, more commonly known in Russia as “Girya,” is one of the most misunderstood tools in fitness today. When used properly, it's lethal for melting fat, building muscle, and rapid improvements in conditioning. Done incorrectly, it can result in injury. When using kettlebells for fat loss, the first exercise to learn is “the swing”. The swing is one of the best exercises for rapid fat loss and powerful development of the hips and posterior chain (hamstrings, quads, and glutes). Here are the five most important cues for a perfect swing.
1. The hike
How you set up your swing matters. Don’t just grab the bell; learn to hike it to set up a powerful swing. Sit your hips back into a hinge, start with the kettlebell in front of you, grab it tightly, engage your lats, and hike the bell back through your legs like someone would hike a kettlebell. This set up sets up a powerful swing.
2. The hinge
A kettlebell swing is not a squat with a front raise, it’s meant to be a hinge. A hinge is when you sit your hips back stretching your hamstrings. This loads up your hips and hamstrings to become like a bow ready to fire an arrow.
3. The lock
At the top of a kettlebell swing you want full hip extension, knees locked, feet rooted into the ground, core tight, and glutes squeezed. The lock is important for generating full explosive power at the top part of the swing.
It’s important to learn how to breathe properly when you swing for maximum fat-loss results and conditioning. When extending your hips and coming swiftly to an upright position (the lock), powerfully exhale, as if you were blowing out candles. During the swing, when hinging down, inhale and fill your midsection with air by breathing in through your nose. Learning to breathe during the swing takes a lot of practice, which leads into our most important point when learning to swing.
The swing is a lift, and should be treated like one. Be sure to practice. Learning a proper kettlebell swing can't be learned quickly. Be patient, and keep practicing and improving.