The ketlebells are brutal but have unbelievable benefits for any athlete. Especially the athletes who generate power through the hips (tennis, baseball, golf, martial arts, etc) should definitely consider kettlebell training.
And for the non-athletes, kettlebells burn a lot of calories and get you lean, in addition to improving your endurance, strength and posture.
Even though the kettlebells have been around for really long time (since the 1700s in Russia), in the mainstream US they became extremely popular several years ago. It was so in to “do kettlebells” but many people were “doing” them wrong. They didn’t learn the correct technique and they were just replicating the movements, often with kettlebells that were too light and thus their technique was wrong.
Then the popularity wave went away a little bit, and now there are the serious athletes left, yet again. The kettlebell swing is exceptionally efficient on improving your strength, endurance, power, and coordination in an extremely short amount of time. The kettlebell swing is easy to learn if you make sure that you get a good coach in the beginning to get your technique down correctly.
The simple “basic kettlebell swing” is so efficient because it has some similarities with the other basic strength movements, such as deadlifts and squats, jumping, and Olympic lifts.
The kettlebell swing is extremely useful for building explosive strength and can easily substitute for plyometric movements. If you feel like your body and joints are beat up from playing too much tennis or running and adding plyometrics to your training would just addd too much of unnecessary stress, then swinging kettlebells is perfect for you. When you prepare for a standing long jump, you use the same hip hinge position like in a kettlebell swing. Kettlebell swings have been shown to improve vertical jumps by about 20% in collegiate athletes, which is a quite great result.
If you are an athlete who performs Olympic moments (such as clean and snatch) to improve your performance, you will be glad to read that swinging kettlebells will improve your Olympic movements performance with up to 60 lbs, as demonstrated in 2010 Manocchia’s study, even though the movements don’t look very similar. Swinging kettlebells is easier on the body and it improves your endurance as well.
For athletes, tennis players, runners, basketball players, baseball players, martial artists, and many others, the basic kettlebell swing improves the maximal hip drive, speed and aggression. If you do deadlifts in your training regimen, the kettlebell swing and its “hip hinge” looks very similar like the lock out on the top of the deadlift. Doing and practicing kettlebell swings, you can improve your deadlift. The only big difference is that in deadlifts you use much heavier weights and perform a continuous grinding motion, while in the kettlebell swing, you use an extremely explosive pop of the hips in the ballistic manner.
In the kettlebell swing, the hip joint changes its angle faster than the knee joint angle, which is very different from the regular back squat where the hip and knee angle change simultaneously. The kettlebell swing improves the strength of the entire posteriors chain muscles (back, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, calves) and thus, even though the kettlebell swing movement is different than the squat movement, swigging kettlebells regularly can improve your squat strength up to 10% (as an experiment with collegiate level athletes has proved).
Reading all the great benefits, you probably cannot wait to start swinging. I highly recommend to get a good coach for a couple of sessions, or study many youtube videos by kettlebell professionals such as Pavel Tsatsouline, Mike Mahler, Steve Cotter and similar… and observe their technique until you are sure you can reproduce it. Film yourself on a video so you can see what you are doing. Sometimes, what you feel from the inside doesn’t correspond to what you do and how it looks from the outside, until you have your technique down by many correct repetitions.
You need to practice the right way each time. Repetition builds muscle memory, and every movement counts in the positive or negative way. When you use the kettlebells to improve your strength and posture, you have to practice in such way.
In “regular” strength training, you often don’t want to use momentum, but rather control the weights with your muscles. In kettlebell training, momentum and leverage are the basics of the movement of the bell. When you start swigging, you can feel unstable and off balance. You need to practice the feeling when the kettlebells move away from the midline of your body in a balanced manner.
- Keep your knees soft and slightly bent.
- Load the hips, connect with the kettlebell and generate the movement of the bell with a powerful thrust of your hips where you contract your glutes powerfully.
- Pull your shoulders back, keep your torso errect and don’t use the strength of your arms. The arms are just like hooks to hold the bell, and let the bell do its own thing, going up and down.
Benefits of Kettlebell Swings
After only a few weeks (4–6) of consistently swinging kettlbells a couple of times a week, you will see and feel amazing changes.
- Your body will feel stronger and look leaner.
- Your posture will improve.
- Your overall strength will improve.
- Your glutes will be rounder and lifted higher up.
- Your legs will look and perform stronger.
- Your core will look firmer and feel more powerful.
- Your tennis game will improve by you moving faster and covering more court, feeling in better balance when you arrive to the ball and hit your shots, and you will be able to generate more power.
- If you do other sports, you will feel the difference too.
- You will run faster, have longer endurance, be more agile and balance.
- If you had some pesky small injuries from imbalances, even those may correct as you get more evenly strong.
Kettlebells are great, don’t take much space to swing, they are time efficient and fun. Get swinging if you haven’t yet. Try them for a month and let me know what amazing results you get. If you don’t own kettlebells, you can get a great quality at PowerSystems.com, that’s where I shop them. Just wait until they have a free shipping offer.
Keep swinging and be awesome!!!