I love kettlebell swings. As a coach, it’s generally one of the first exercises I teach people. I think everybody should do swings. Everyday. Seriously, I haven’t met a single person who learned how to properly swing a bell who didn’t get faster, stronger, move better, and especially LOOK better. Or maybe that’s just the totality of my fabulous coaching combined with the illustrious glute reshaping capabilities of the ever enduring kettlebell swing. But we can all pat me on the back later. Let’s talk about why the swing is the premier booty exercise for anyone from athletes to rehab patients to people who just want a superior posterior.
If you’re an athlete, chances are you need to run, and not just go for a WOG (Walk/Jog). NO. You need to RUN. You must be able to sprint. FAST. Even if your sport doesn’t necessarily involve running per se, i.e table tennis, chances are you still need to be quick on your feet. The ability to drive the body and maneuver quickly is definitely a combination of many factors, yet forward motion is not possible without appropriate hip extension. One’s ability to adequately extend the hip via the glutes in an effort to propel the body forward is necessary not just in sports but in life as well. Enter the swing.
Kettlebell swings are all about hip extension. The extreme hip flexion at the back end of the swing is perfect for generating massive amounts of power due to the stretch reflex you are now creating. As one drives through the heels sending the hips forward into extension; shortening the glutes and hamstrings, all while (if properly done) using the abdominals to brace the trunk and midsection as the muscles of the low back stabilize the spine. All of these factors combined create enormous levels of power. Even if you don’t believe me, just ask these guys.
Learning to move from the the hips; whether it be forward, backward, side to side, glute function is critical. As an athlete you must move quickly and powerfully, but what if you’re not an athlete? What if you’re just someone who wants to feel better or move better? What if you’re someone who is just coming off an injury or needs some form of rehab exercise?
No problem. Multiple studies have shown the potential for using the swing as a way to help rehab some patients in recovery. As a coach I often meet clients suffering from some sort of knee pain. Whether the pain is current or an on/off problem, I do not believe that this is something that people should just “live” with. Keeping this in mind the swing and the deadlift have been my go to when looking to begin helping others alleviate everything from knee pain to low back pain to even postural problems.
Again we can only tout the the benefits of the swing. Yet as a friend once told me: “Naysayers gunna nay say”, and as such we must address people who are still not convinced of the power of the swing. We will refer to these people generously as “Dumb.” You see, Dumb people refuse to admit when they are wrong in the face of such overwhelmingly positive evidence. If this is the case then chances are we are talking about people who find the deadlift or swing painful. In which I would accurately argue you may be either: a.) doing it wrong, b.) need some serious foundational work such as bridges and core stabilization practice, or c.) find a better coach because clearly the one you have sucks. If any of these are the case, then do your research, educate yourself or find someone who IS educated and in so many words stop being DUMB.
Max Shank shows us a pretty killer example of a swing:
There are some out there who would not believe in the power of the swing. That’s totally fine with me to be honest. We can’t all be awesome and if you choose to do swings well then welcome to the Awesome Club. Chances are the people who are intimidated by swings and other power work that would help them be better and fitter are the same people doing power-core classes, eating egg whites, and swearing that they totally made the right choice switching to soy milk. For the rest of us who choose to be strong, fast, and capable from the power of swings then go us! A client of mine once said “Ambition Athletics is for swingers.” I think it’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you?