The 10 Commandments of the Kettlebell Swing
1. Be a good person.
2. Do not hurt yourself or others.
You are responsible for your actions only, no one else’s. If you do harm to another human being, then you have failed at life and will never reach your potential in any way shape or form because it is always better to learn from mistakes than make them again!
3. Respect your body.
4. Never compete with someone else in anything, especially if they are stronger than you.
Competition breeds jealousy and hatred which leads to unhappiness and ultimately to failure.
5. Don’t use drugs or alcohol in any form during training or competition, unless prescribed by a doctor or medical professional (and even then only after consulting with them).
6. Learn how to properly warm up before and after exercise.
Warm up exercises help increase blood flow to muscles, improve circulation, prevent injury and enhance performance.
7. Practice proper technique when performing each movement of the kettlebell swing: keep your elbows close together, don’t shrug shoulders, keep back straight and tight; don’t let your knees bend inward or outward; don’t bounce off the floor; don’t jerk excessively while swinging…you get the idea!
8. Don’t worry about what other people are doing in their own training or in a competition.
You have to do what’s best for you and your own goals. Focusing on someone else’s actions can be a distraction and lead to making mistakes that could otherwise be avoided.
9. Do not attempt a kettlebell swing workout if you are ill, fatigued, or undernourished (eating too much or too little).
10. Always have fun and laugh when training. It’s a sport that can be played by anyone at any age no matter their size or gender.
Any form of laughter during a workout not only helps keep your body healthy, but your mind as well!
These guidelines can apply to many different forms of exercise such as running, walking, biking, swimming, skiing, elliptical machines, etc.
The above guidelines for the Kettlebell swing are a collection of tips, tricks and advice that I have learned from my own training and experiences over the years as well as from other great lifters. It is important to keep these in mind while training and competing because they will not only help you achieve your goals, but also help prevent injury and keep you motivated. Remember: you only get out what you put in; so always give it your all!
One of my favorite German strength and conditioning coaches is Hans Jöstor Louden. Sadly he passed away a few years ago, but not before writing a number of books on training for different sports: team handball, football, track and field, etc.
One thing that he always mentions in his books is the following training guideline (which also happens to be one of my favorite guidelines):
“Train movements, not muscles!”
While this may seem obvious to some people, it is surprising how many people focus on individual muscles when they train. For example, when someone works their “chest” they will do exercises like the bench press or dumbbell flyes. While these are great exercises for building up your “pecs,” they do very little to train the entire movement of “pushing.”
Pushing is more than just your chest muscles contracting. In order to push something you have to engage your entire body, from your legs and butt to your shoulders and back. Pushing is a primal movement that we as humans need in order to survive…hence why it is in our nature to be good at it!
As you may have noticed in my kettlebell swing guidelines, I always try to incorporate a natural movement pattern rather than just isolating muscles. When most people see “kettlebell swing” they immediately think of a exercise for their posterior chain (muscles in the back of your body: calves, hamstrings, glutes and lower back). While this is true and an extremely important reason for doing them, it isn’t the only benefit you receive from them.
The kettlebell swing also trains the movement pattern of “hip hinging” or “pushing.” Think about it: in order to swing the kettlebell you have to bend at your hips and push with your legs in order to generate power. This exact same movement is used in many other sports such as baseball, softball, golf, etc.
It is also used in everyday life activities such as pushing open a heavy door, swinging a toddler around, or running.
By training the kettlebell swing you can help improve these and many other activities because you are training your body how to move in the most efficient and safe way possible.
Now I want you to try an exercise with me. Take a stance and pretend that you are about to engage in a push up position. Now bend at your hips and slowly reach toward the ground as if you are going to do a push up.
However, do not stop when your hands reach the ground. Instead, keep going until your elbows touch your knees and then slowly “push back out.”
Did you feel how your body naturally took over?
You didn’t think about it, you just did it! This is what I mean by “movingments” rather than muscles. Your body knew exactly what to do without having to tell it to do specific sets of muscles. This is what we want to train.
So go ahead and make a commitment to training your body and not just your muscles from now on. You will be glad you did!
“Movement is life.”
Do you have any questions?
I am more than happy to answer them. You can contact me here.
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Sources & references used in this article:
From Russia with Tough Love: Pavel’s Kettlebell Workout for a Femme Fatale by P Tsatsouline – 2002 – books.google.com
Transformation 28: 28 Days to Achieving Your Best Health Ever by D John – 2015 – BookBaby
The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular YOU! by M Matthews – 2012 – Waterbury Publishers
Average Married Dad’s Guide to Health, Wealth, and a Sexy Marriage: For 30-to 40-Somethings by N Thompson – 2018 – books.google.com