Understanding Kettlebell Swing Cues

Kettlebell swings are one of the most challenging exercises that we do. They are a serious skill that I think we underestimate. I could coach the swing all day long. There is always something we can freshen up. There are a few cues that we use frequently that I would like to dive into a little deeper. It is important that you understand the cues, why we use them and why it is important.

1. “Attack the zipper” or “Thumb to bum”

We wish there was a more polite way to get our point across, but these seem to work the best. Here’s the deal, with kettlebell swings you have to have your arms up high in the back. In fact, if you are swinging correctly your thumbs should “real life” touch your bum at the bottom part of the swing. If you are not “attacking the zipper” and your hands are hanging low, then you are putting some serious unnecessary strain on the back by bending at the waist.

2. "Reach way back behind out”

This sort of goes hand in hand with “thumb to bum”, except what we are looking for is that you not only keep your hands up high, but also get your thumbs all the way back between your legs (to your bum!). By reaching way back, you will regain the power from your glutes and hamstring to power through the movement. If you do not reach back, then you are likely to find that power elsewhere such as your lower back. The kettlebell should touch the cheeks at the bottom of the kettlebell swing.

3. “Throw the kettlebell back”

When you are the top of your kettlebell swing, it is easy to let gravity do the job of dropping the bell back, BUT kettlebell swings are a HIGHLY explosive and powerful exercise and we are looking to be ENGAGED through this entire movement. We talk about “staying tight”. If you are throwing the kettlebell back, you have no choice but to stay tight and you have no choice but to explode back to the top of that movement.

We could coach the kettlebell swing all day long. This exercise is a skill that we continuously work on mastering. I hope explaining some of the coaching cues gives you a better idea of what we are looking for and why it is important!

Keep making it happen!
Coach Meagan

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