The last 3 weeks we have seen that the deadlift is a base exercise for building strength and muscle mass. What it misses is the dynamic explosiveness that promotes muscular power and fascial fitness. This is where the kettlebell swing comes in.
The swing harnesses the power from your hip to train fluid ballistic movement that screams athleticism. The nature of the movement mimics sport by demanding transition between fluid movement and full body tension when the kettlebell reaches chest level.
Fluidity of movement comes from training not just the muscle, but also its surrounding tissues and nerves. Fascia is the connective tissue that encases every muscle in the body. Although traditionally the body is thought of in terms of individual muscles, research on the fascial system has introduced a new perspective in which the body is thought of in terms of lines of tension. Fascia houses the muscle-nerve connections and thereby modulates the degree of neural activation in the muscle. By including explosive movements in our programs we train our nervous systems to recruit more muscle mass.
Kettlebell swing progressions:
1) Perform Romanian deadlifts with the kettlebell
Romanian deadlifts are the basic hip hinge movement. Hinging and then standing up into hip lockout is the basis of hip power. By pushing the hip back you engage the lines of tension down the back of the body that tend to be undertrained.
2) Progress to low swings
Once your hip hinge pattern is strong, move onto low swings by speeding up the lockout of the hip. As you stand up from you hip hinge, squeeze your glutes to bring your hip forward.
3) Amplify hip lockout
Forcefully contract your glutes to use your hip to throw the kettlebell up to chest height. Activate your midsection to keep the kettlebell at chest height on each swing.
The kettlebell swing creates muscular power and strength and captures traditionally undertrained areas in the body. In a randomized controlled trial, the training group demonstrated better coordination under dynamic loading and increased vertical jump height after training the kettlebell swing. Explosive power training improves muscular recruitment that carries over to your other strength exercises. If the movement is new to you start light and progress accordingly. Power training is best included near the beginning of the training session, so grab a training partner and get after it!
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