It is time for the first kettlebell form check. We’ve introduced the series, interviewed the experts, but now it is time to dig in and I’m the first one. Time to get my form right – join us as we dig into the kettlebell swing on this episode of the Kettlebell Form Check.
Video Kettlebell Swing – Kettlebell Form Check
Analysis of the Kettlebell Swing
I strongly believe that we can and should be continually learning. There is always room to improve. Now I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what Nate and Dr Higgins were going to think of my kettlebell swing. Were they going to rip it apart, or just drop their jaw shaking their heads in disbelief?
I just didn’t know what to expect. I’ve dug deep to learn the kettlebell, had multiple certified instructors, and continually seek to improve. But that’s just it … I know there’s room to improve.
These two guys are perfect and that’s why we started Kettlebell Form Check together.
Let’s see what they found. Learn along with me as they clean up my kettlebell swing. They found two things to work on breathing and hips.
Kettlbell Swing – Its the Hips Stupid
Okay neither of these guys called me stupid, but seriously I know this. Have your read my Hip Snap post? I wrote an entire article relating a hip hop tune to the proper form of the swing and I still miss the mark.
Have I said how there is always room for improvement already?
Watch the video closely and see the difference. This is exactly why you should grab a camera, record your swing and send it in for Kettlebell Form Check. We’ll be kind and we can all learn along with you.
So hear is how Nate explained the proper hip swing:
- the knees stay relaxed, don’t squat
- Keep your back straight.
- Bent at the hips by pushing your butt back
Simple. Now go do it. What made the difference for me is focusing on keeping the knees in a relaxed position while moving the hips – pay attention to the two joints.
Kettlbell Swing – Breath Right
The second thing they found in my swing was breathing pattern. I had it reversed. Much of my training has been from traditional strength and conditioning where I’ve been trained to exhale when exerting force – lifting the weight. Then inhale as you lower the weight.
This correction will test if you can teach an old dog new tricks. My breathing pattern is deeply, I mean deeply ingrained. So what gives?
Both Nate and Dr. Higgins help people rehabilitate and know the issues that us cubicle dwellers face. Breathing boils down to affecting spinal stability.
Check out this great post from Lyle McDonald from Body Recomposition on Breathing During Weight Training. I love Lyle’s approach to things: he’s scientific but also very practical. Let me break it down:
- Just Breathe – If you are just starting it is better that you just focus on getting oxygen and nail your form. Get air.
- Exhale To Lift – Once you start getting into a groove the foundation to exhale on exertion is a good stand by when you aren’t loading the spine, or going all out.
- Spine Safety – Then when you crank up the weight, the intensity, or the load on the spine it is time to rethink the breathing.
Partial Valsalva – Why it Matters!
It could be my scandinavian decent, but that term just seems like a trip to the old-country is required. Thankfully, it is much easier and simpler. The Valsalva method is referring to building up pressure by exhaling against a closed windpipe. That pressure builds creating intra-abdominal pressure, often abbreviated as IAP.
When you build IAP you save you spine. How many cube dwellers do you know with back issues, especially lower back issues? Everyone (almost) – except those who’ve mastered this form of breathing.
It may sound simple but by reversing the direction of breath we build up IAP as we extend in the kettlebell swing. This pressure helps keep the spine stable and helps us extend fully.
In Lyle’s article he spends more time talking about the importance of building IAP when performing movements that engage the spine, like the deadlift, squat, overhead press, or the kettlebell swing. You’ll see some similarities, but some differences as well.
Breathing During the Kettlbell Swing
Many of the movements that Lyle discusses are power movements, that are slow and controlled. With the kettlebell we are working towards fluidity, so the breathing is slightly different.
Nate and Dr Higgins recommend this pattern:
- Release – Exhale through your mouth as the kettlebell swings down and back. This release is exactly what the good doctor wants to see, so that tension isn’t held in the lower back.
- IAP on UP – Inhale deep into your diaphram as you hip snap forward. This builds that spine stability as you extend. This IAP will support your spine and help you extend.
How’s Your Form?
Have you looked at your hip snap? How do you breath when doing the kettlebell swing? What else is just a little off on your form?
Let’s hear from you. Grab your camera, film 3-5 reps from the front and 3-5 from the side, then post it to YouTube and let us know. We’ll help you get your form right on a future episode of Kettlebell Form Check.