Kettlebell swings are the building blocks of a legit workout. They develop strength and power in your glutes and hamstrings and also train your core; they also work your muscular endurance and elevate your heart rate, so you get a cardiovascular workout effect from them, too. But, they’re also pretty easy to do incorrectly.
To truly benefit from the move you’ll need practice, in fact, to perform the movement correctly, you have to be able to engage and control multiple muscles at the same time.
1. They’re not squats
The kettlebell swing is a hip-hinge movement but many people perform it as a squat and front raise, which means you’re not targeting the right muscles.
Instead of swinging from the hips like a pendulum, many people squat straight down and then rely too much on their upper body to lift the kettlebell forward and up. This means you miss out on the glute and hamstring benefits the move should offer.
To properly engage your glutes and hamstrings, shift your hips back at the beginning of the movement and popping them forward to carry the kettlebell forward and up.
2. Not keeping your back neutral
Another common kettlebell swing mistake is rounding your upper back and cranking your neck out of alignment, which can increase your risk of injury.
Try to keep your chest proud and your chin slightly tucked, in order to help you maintain proper alignment during the entire movement.
3. Engaging your lower back instead of your glutes
It’s common for people to try to use their lower back to complete swings. This takes the emphasis off your glutes and hamstrings while overworking your lower back, decreasing the effectiveness of the move and increasing your risk of injury.
To keep your lower back safe, activate your core and glutes throughout your swing and finish the movement standing tall with your glutes squeezed.
4. Leaning too far back
Many kettlebell swingers also put their back at risk by leaning too far back and pushing their hips too far forward at the top of the movement, which strains the lower back and increases injury risk.
In the correct ending position of a kettlebell swing, you stand with your hips directly beneath your shoulders with a neutral spine (so no rounding in your upper back or overarching in your lower back).
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