Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebells are effective, but if used incorrectly, they can pose a risk of injury. Follow these tips for training this posterior chain powerhouse.

• Place the kettlebell in front of you a couple of feet. This helps generate some backward momentum when you grab it rather than trying to muscle it through your legs from a dead stop.

• A kettlebell-swing setup is the same as for a deadlift: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Push your hips back first, then bend your knees as you lower your torso with a straight back until you can grip the kettlebell with both hands. Your hips should be higher than your knees, back straight, arms straight, at the start.

• Retract your shoulder blades and “pack” your shoulders. This creates stability in your core and shoulder girdle, making your arms a powerful lever rather than a limp noodle being yanked about by a 20- (or 30- or 40-) pound metal orb. Maintain this power and tension as you swing the kettlebell backward between your knees.

• Your hips are the hinge in a kettlebell swing, with your torso and legs as the leaves. Folding forward puts your glutes and hamstrings on stretch, loading them with potential energy, like when you draw an arrow back in a bow.

• Use that tensile power as the driving force behind your swing. As the kettlebell swings forward, extend your legs and snap your hips to drive the weight up in front of you.

• At the top, you’re going for full body tension: Stand tall with your hips thrust forward, feet rooted, core tight and lats engaged. This generates even more explosive power for your swing.

• At the top of the movement, the kettlebell should be almost weightless, hovering for a split second before it begins its (controlled) free fall back between your knees. Shift your weight back into your heels and allow the kettlebell to swing back down and through your knees, loading your hams and glutes once more for the next rep.

• How high you raise the kettlebell depends on the version of the move you’re doing. With a Russian swing, the kettlebell rises to chest height; with the American swing, you raise it all the way overhead.

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