With winter approaching we are going to spend more time indoors than outdoors. Sitting inside watching TV, getting nice and warmed up in front of that fire place drinking a warm drink this is great and all, but all these things have one thing in common, sitting. In today’s world we spend a lot of our time doing things in front of us with terrible posture (unless of course you are coach Rob who has the greatest posture this world has ever seen). We plant ourselves in front of keyboards with our shoulders collapsing, we are seated, constantly shortening our hip flexors. Most of our jobs have us sit for hours on end not moving and having a nice hunched over position, and we go home and melt on the couch and exacerbate the problem further. As I write this article I find myself doing all of the above. Now is the time to fix it.
Anterior dominance or the overuse of our muscles in the front of our bodies needs to be addressed. By having one side of our bodies used much more often than the other we will run into more problems than benefits. It leads to imbalances and poor performance in CrossFit WODs, we remain in this hunched over position when standing and while trying to perform our workouts. So how do we fix it? It’s easy, by doing a core strengthening, purely posterior chain exercise; the kettlebell swing, and we do it correctly. Today I am going to try my best to explain on how to get the most out of your kettlebell swing.
I have been coaching CrossFit for a while now and I have found the best ques for teaching proper technique goes as follows: the first step is the hike. The hike is exactly what it sounds like, you are hiking the kettlebell just as you see the center on a football team hike a football. We want to make sure our first swing starts in this hike position as opposed to a standing position. We want to get a Lat stretch and find a rhythm as we begin to build momentum as each swing continues. It is always a good idea to set your kettlebell up about a foot in front of you, keeping your hips high with knees slightly bent, from there retract your shoulder blades and let your Lats contract, this is the start of the movement as you hike the KB through the legs.
Next we have the hinge, this is where people seem to get a little lost on the movement, unlike a squat which is more knee dominant, the hinge should be nothing but the hips, this will help to make sure our posterior chain will be doing all the work. We want to stress the hamstrings and glutes as much as possible to generate as much power as possible. If you are unable to hinge properly you ARE inefficient in your actual swing.
Third we have the root, or the reflex that occurs when we get the posterior stretch from the hinge. Our muscles snap back like a rubber band putting us in an upright position with all core muscles engaged and our feet deeply planted into the ground. Remember to stay on our heels at this crucial stage this helps us maintain proper balance. As the reflex occurs we also want to make sure we are squeezing the glutes as much as possible this is where all of our power occurs and it will help us get the most bang for our buck. Keep your shoulders back and down to help get the full posterior chain experience.
The final position is the float, or the zero gravity that occurs from all your hard work. It is when acceleration has occurred you have followed through with post-chain explosiveness and now the kettlebell is reaching its peak before making its way back down, it is also a brief rest period. If you have never experienced this, you have never done a kettlebell swing correctly. Your hands are there to just guide the bell back into the hike position to start the movement all over.
The best way to learn this movement and its efficiency is to keep practicing, you should feel all the posterior muscles engage as I explained above, in fact, that should be your goal with every swing. Kettlebells are an absolute foundation when it comes to kinesthetic awareness (I sound smart) or knowing where and what your body is doing at all times. The better you get at feeling what is supposed to be done the better your posture will become, as well as the quicker you will grow as an athlete and a proficient CrossFitter! Good Luck Bears and Happy Holidays!