Why: The kettlebell swing is an old-school movement that’s still used due to its efficacy and simplicity. It works your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and erectors), power, and balance (especially a heavy kettlebell). It’s a great movement to teach beginners hip and knee extension.
Set-Up: Start with your feet at a shoulder-width stance—or slightly wider. Hold the kettlebell handle with both hands, overhanded, between your legs.
Execution: Descend your hips back and down, but keep your hips above your knees. Maintain your lumbar curve. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Extend your hips and knees rapidly to launch the kettlebell overhead. Keep your heels down until your hips and legs extend. Keep your arms straight. To get the kettlebell fully overhead (required for the “American Kettlebell Swing” used most in CrossFit), use your arms to pull the kettlebell over the middle of your feet. To begin the next rep, sit your hips back into a partial squat and bring the kettlebell back through your legs. (If the WOD requires “Russian Kettlebell Swings,” stop the Kettlebell at eye level instead of going overhead.)
Points of Performance: To get a “good rep,” ensure the following:
– At the top of the swing: The kettlebell fully inverts (bell over the handle) and is centered over the feet (or at eye level for a Russian swing) with the hips/knees fully extended and the arms straight.
– At the bottom of the swing: The bell passes behind the heels.
Pro-Tip: To speed up your swing, when the kettlebell gets overhead, actively push the bell back down to the starting position. Each swing will be a bit faster, and your heart rate a bit higher, than if gravity alone brings the kettlebell back down.