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Approachable health tips from the personal trainers of TorqueStrong

The Kettlebell Basics

Alydia Bryant

The Swing is what I believe to be the most valuable movement pattern around today, but is not something that is easily mastered. It takes time and dedication to properly swing the kettlebell. Which is why I want to preface this article by encouraging you to seek out a professional to properly teach you the swing. You can locate a qualified kettlebell instructor through Dragondoor.com or Strongfirst.com.

Kettlebells are highly efficient due to the maximal effort they require. A Kettlebell delivers extreme all around fitness: all-purpose strength, staying power, flexibility, and fat loss with out dishonor of aerobic conditioning. These results can be accomplished in 1-2 hours a week of training and can be done anywhere. Regular Dumbbells are held in the center and are balanced, but kettlebells are different. The off centered handle provides a challenge for the shoulder stability as well as adaptations that must be made through the core musculature. Therefore it is important to purchase a Kettlebell and not to try to mimic this movement with a Dumbbell.

The swing is based on the Deadlift movement pattern and hits almost every muscle in the body. The Swing and Deadlift should be thought of as a pulling movement. They target the posterior chain. While performing a Deadlift essentially you are loading and unloading the back of the body as you accelerate and decelerate the kettlebell. The reason why this is so key is because of the power and strength that comes from your Posterior Chain. The posterior chain refers to primary muscles of the rear portion of the body which include the lower back, gluteus maximus (glutes), hamstrings, and calves and more. These muscles often become neglected so be warned, you may feel a new level of soreness after practicing the swing and deadlift.

When choosing a bell you must select a bell that is heave enough to you are not tempted to Pull up with the bell using your arms more then the hips. Remember we want to “Load Our Hips.” A women who is inactive or with a small strength foundation should start with an 18lb Kettlebell. An average women should start with a 12kg (25 lbs) and a strong female should start with a 16kg (35lb) bell. This may seem heavy to you but if you do not start with a sufficient weight then you will be using your upper body rather then accessing those muscles of posterior chain.

TorqueStrong_Deadlift.jpeg
TorqueStrong_Deadlifts.Jpeg

So lets get started! First we will master the Deadlift! Take off your shoes!!! Everything in this program should be performed barefoot or in flat shoes with out cushy soles. ( shoes can limit your mobility and stability)

The Deadlift

  • Take a comfortable stance: Feet should be slightly wider then shoulder width with toes pointing forward or slightly turned out.The bell should between your ankle bones

  • Hips Should reach BACK not down and in hale through your nose. Imagine you are trying to put a butt print on the wall behind you. Arms remain straight. Lift with your legs.

  • You back should remain “flat”. This is referring to a neutral spine, you want to maintain the natural curves of your back. Not trying to compensate a lack of mobility by rounding your upper back or arching your low back.

  • Shoulders should remain packed (down and back, staying broad through your collarbone)

  • Bringing Hips forward as you stand. Exhale Forcefully. (Don't raise head and then straighten knees. Think of this like a slingshot being stretched back. Once its released it immediately returns forward.)

  • Finish With tension throughout the body. Everything engaged(glutes tight, shoulders back and down, core compressed, knees pulled up with quads engaged)

  • Heals and toes should maintain contact with the floor at all times.

The deadlift is meant to be a slow decent with a powerful stand. This is not meant to be a “reps as fast as you can” exercise. This is supposed to be under control.

The Hardstyle Plank

Hardstyle planks are not just a core exercise; they properly work the entire body.

Unlike these minute or several-minute-long plank challenges you see many people doing, real hardstyle planks will kick your butt in as little as 10 seconds.

Practicing the hardstyle plank will help with your deadlift and the lockout at the top of the kettlebell swing, Which is why we are going over this before we move to the swing.

  • Form a straight line from your heels to the top of your head, no lifted or sagging hips.

  • Elbows should be directly under the armpits.

  • Squeeze everything, not just your abs! This is a full body isometric-hold. Forcefully contract your quads (pull your knee caps up) and squeeze your glutes, shoulders should be down and back.

    If you want to make sure you are doing this correctly you can have a friend come over and give you some “tough love”. Have them push on you in every direction. If you are lose like a noodle or you bend and break then you are leaking tension. You should be like a solid piece of wood if everything is properly engaged. (hints the name plank :))

Torquestrong_Plank.jpg

The Hardstyle Swing

Remember the Swing is built upon the Deadlift so begin in the same position.

  • Take a comfortable stance: Feet should be slightly wider then shoulder width with toes pointing forward or slightly turned out.The bell should between your ankle bones

  • Keep your head up

  • Remember that neutral spine.

  • Reach hips back (as if in the bottom phase of the Deadlift) The Kettlebell should be slightly in front of you.

  • Hike the bell back between your legs. You should be aiming your upper arms against your ribs. Your hamstrings should feel loaded like a slingshot.

  • Once the inside of your wrists comes in contact with the inside of your thighs pop your hips forward explosively. Your arms must be straight and loose. Your hips are what is powering the bell to raise. The bell should be an extension of your arms. If this is done correctly the bell should be between your belly and shoulders.

  • At the top of the swing find that tension! Squeeze your glutes, pull up your knees, compress your core and exhale forcefully.

  • As gravity pulls the bell down aim it between your legs and keep your shoulders back. Maintain a neutral spine. In hale through your nose as the bell is behind you. Repeat the previous steps for 10-30 swings..

TorqueStrong_Swing_3.Jpeg
TorqueStrong_Swing_.jpeg
TorqueStrong_Swing.jpeg

Goblet Squat

  • Feet hip width (give or take) and toes angled slightly outward.

  • Knees should track toes at all times.

  • Pull your hips straight down as far as you can while maintaining a neutral spine.Inhale through your nose. Your hips and knees should move at the same speed.

  • Think about pushing your knees out at the bottom of the squat instead of letting them collapse.

  • To stand drive your feet into the floor and extend your legs. Exhale forcefully through your mouth or grunt. Remember that your hips and knees should move at the same speed. Don't allow your head and shoulders to lean forward over your toes.

  • Once standing squeeze your glutes, pull up your knees, stay broad from your shoulders and maintain tension throughout your whole body.

TorqueStrong_Squat


Once you have mastered these 4 skills you are ready for a work out.

Deadlift 10x

Hardstyle plank 10-30 sec

Swing 10-30x

Goblet squat 8x

Repeat this 3-5 times and increase reps or weight as your become stronger and more conditioned! Remember FORM is everything! Dont push yourself past fatigue. If you feel your back rounding or any other signs of your form being lost set the bell down! You should get more out of your work out then your work out takes from you! Every rep counts. Performing poor technique can result in injury! Never perform more then you are ready to! Kettlebells require focus, so dont perform in front of a TV or in an enviornment that may be distracting. Make sure that you have plenty of space! Safety is everything! Treat the kettlebell with respect, always pick it up or set it down as if you were performing a rep. Happy swinging!