Monday, January 9, 2017

Breakdown of the Swing: Part 4-Common Mistakes

In our final installment from Devan Weis of Journey Active of breaking down the Kettlebell swing she discusses the common mistakes she sees when completing the movement. Sometimes its better to know what not to do than it is just getting the instructions. If you have questions about the swing or wants tips, take a video, send it along and we will help along with Devan in getting it all corrected. Happy Swinging.

Common Mistakes - Breakdown of the SwingPart 4

The goal of this article is to highlight some of the most common mistakes seen in the kettlebell swing. Now, by no means have I covered all of the potential mistakes, but I feel have covered a few of the most important. Focus your energy on avoiding these, and many of the other mistakes will stay out of your practice as a result. If youre curious about how to do a proper swing, be sure to check out my previous three articles on the TAT website.

Mistake #1: Attempting a swing or weighted hinge pattern before you are ready
Because kettlebells have become so much more popular in the last several years within fitness, many trainers teach kettlebell swings as part of their high intensity training, but the problem with this is many times there is zero assessment of participants beforehand. This results in lower back pain, injury, and low adherence to programs all because an individual wasnt started with something like a toe-touch progression or a dead lift. If youre training on your own- please, please, please dont start with a swing just because it looks cool. If youre training with a trainer and experiencing any pain- tell them & ask for a modification. A good trainer will give you one. What do I mean by all of this? Basically, if you cant touch your toes after being warmed up, your hamstrings are not in a place to do a kettlebell swing. I could go more in depth, but I did promise to keep it simple :) So, go practice touching your toes (sorry, no video demo this time!).

Mistake #2: Failure to set up properly (or set up much at all)
Through my training with Strong First, I have been taught that my first rep is my set up. In other words, before even swinging a kettlebell, Ive completed a rep simply by addressing the bell. Ive attached a helpful article written by a Master trainer that explains this better than I can.

Mistake #3: Leakage of the main acting muscle groups
Lats, core, & hamstrings all have their time during the kettlebell swing. The best thing you can do to ensure stability of your body & security of that flying piece of equipment in your hands is to maintain linkage of your acting muscles. Heres a brief breakdown:
  • During the set up of the swing- Lats should be engaged (pulling the bell handle apart), hamstrings should be activated (think bending at the hips & sitting back on your heels), core should be aware (no belly button towards the floor stuff here). Neck should be in alignment with the rest of the spine (think of looking about 3 feet out in front of you rather than looking up at the horizon or to the point you will stand to).
  • At the hip snap to stand of the swing- Glutes and quads should be amazingly tight (Ive been told crushing a walnutwith my glutes), knees locked out, and core fully engaged. Spine should be in a neutral position (this means no looking down when youve reached the top & being sure that your back is neutral, not hyperextended)
  • On the downswing, your lats are still engaged, your hamstrings re-engage, and there is no indication of a squat pattern (this means that your weight is back in your heels, youre hinging at your hips, and not bending your knees more than you have to. Remember, your hips should always stay higher than your knees and shoulders higher than your hips!)

Mistake #4: Doing as many reps as you can (until exhaustion or failure)

I wont touch on this much today, but we have something at Journey called AMQRAPs. It stands for: As Many Quality Rounds or Reps As Possible. You may have heard of AMRAP(As Many Rounds As Possible) before, but the way we do Strong with kettlebells is a bit different. In my opinion, if youre training to failure, youre training your body to fail on you. Nobody wants to fail, am I right? Also, training to get as many reps or rounds as you can in a certain period of time doesnt encourage proper form, it encourages haste, lazy set up, poor engagement, etc. So, long story short, take your time & perform as many reps as you can with SOLID QUALITY.

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