As coaches, we all have certain movements we cannot stand to watch performed poorly. It pains me to see bad squats. I mean, it makes my knees feel like they want to explode. Fortunately we squat a lot in an untimed environment here, so we have the opportunity to get some quality technique work done.
Overextended kettlebell swings are just frustrating. They’re relatively easy to fix, and we review swings regularly, but once that clock starts for the WOD, all hell breaks loose. I like photos, such as the one at left from The Main Site (CrossFit.com) that demonstrate proper form immediately adjacent to a common movement flaw, and in this case the flaw is exactly what I’m talking about. In a good kettlebell swing we want our torso acting as a lever arm, transferring power generated through hip extension to move the weight.
To do this safely and efficiently we must engage our core, and maintain a stable midline. Ideally the swing begins with a hinge and ends with a plank. By hinge I mean the hips are flexed, the belly is tight, holding the rib cage in place, not allowing overextension of the spine, and the knees are sightly bent. Plank refers to knees and hips extended (butt squeezed), belly still tight, rib cage still down, spine in a rigid, neutral position. If swinging a kettlebell makes you feel like your back’s going to break in half, it’s likely due to overextension caused by either a lack of mobility, lazy abs, or both.
At CrossFit we endeavor to develop our athletes from the inside out, from core to extremity, which is by the way how good functional movements recruit muscle, from the core to the extremities.
- Greg Glassman
Basically everything we do requires abdominal engagement. The kettlebell swing is certainly not an exception, and I would even argue that it serves as a fine example. Many people new to the exercise attempt to swing the bell almost entirely with their arms, rather than locking their spine into a solid column, and firing their hips to move the weight. More experienced CrossFitters often get the movement pattern right, but we sometimes get a little complacent, and fail to finish the movement in a good position. The reps count, but it’s less efficient, and could hurt in the long run. Next time you pick up a kettlebell remember to stay tight, and swing it right.
August 22, 2012
Overhead Squat 3-3-3-3-3
7 Kettlebell Swings (32kg/24kg)
21 Calorie Row