Monthly Archives: Nov 2017

The Kettlebell Swing

If there was one movement out there that burns fat, opens up and loosens the hips and that will give you that perky bum you’ve always dreamed of, it is the Kettlebell Swing (KBS).

If done correctly the swing is key to fat loss and building your glutes and hamstrings. It definitely provides the best bang for your buck. Done correctly is the key point here, usually the KBS is taught so horrifically that they should hand out business cards for a back specialist after every class.

It is a simple move in theory but can be difficult to learn.

Kettlebell Swings are the top of the pyramid when it comes to hinge movements, they are the most under appreciated movement in the gym, sport and even life!

So how do we complete The Swing?

Here’s a little video demonstrations the Swing in action.

So the key coaching points here:

  • Make sure your back is nice and flat at the top of the movement, arching back is wrong and dangerous for your back
  • Hinge at the hips so that the Kettlebell lowers, then thrust forward gaining all the power from your glutes and your hamstrings. The Swing is an explosive movement not a passive one!
  • Let the Kettlebell drag you down, at the bottom of the movement should have the Kettlebell between your legs, below the bottom. The arms should be locked and the hips behind your centre line of the body, the knees slightly bent with a neutral spine.
  • This position is impossible to achieve if you fall down with the Kettlebell instead of letting it drag you down.
  • The height of the Kettlebell completely depends on the explosiveness of your hips. Ideally it should reach parallel to the ground but not higher. Again, this all depends on how explosive the hips are.

A key thing to remember here is that the Kettlebell Swing is in fact a hinge movement and not a squat.

If you as a coach hear the saying “Oh Kettlebell Swings hurt my back” must realise  that there is a form issue here, Kettlebell Swings do not hurt your back.  More often than not the issue is that the knees are bent too much.

Hinging at the hips means maximal hip movement, minimal knee movement.

Squatting means maximal hip movement and maximal knee movement.

The hip hinge and the KBS are a good as it gets for human performance. If there is one thing that you learn to do correctly, let it be the hinge pattern.

A good target to reach for is 75-200 swings a workout. I know this seems a lot but if you break it down you realise its not that much. The KBS can be used as a warm up, condition work and a strength work.

You can break this up numerous ways such as : 25 X 3, 15 X 5, etc.

Myth Busting: Muscle Confusion

Muscle confusion is a buzz word that’s thrown around by magazines and on Social Media these days. Essentially they say that it is vital to keep changing your exercises to “keep the muscle thinking” and that it will grow this way.

If you think that this is the truth when it comes to muscle building, then maybe you too are confused about muscle confusion.
While a variety of exercises is always a good thing in your training, consistency is also necessary for optimal results. You 100% shouldn’t always aim to “confuse” the muscle. There are lifts/ exercises that should be completed week in and week out for your whole training life! In my opinion the back squat is one.
How do you “confuse ” a muscle to make it grow?
There is a much better way to gain strength and muscle size. It’s pretty simple, prioritise your main lifts (squat, Deadlift, bench press) for 4-6 weeks at a time. Make sure you hit these lifts first in your session and plan with progressive overload.
You could plan as follows for the back squat:

Day 1: 6 X 4
Day 2: 3 X 4
Day 3: 8 X 4

Lets say you focus on this as your main lift for 4 weeks using the above rep schemes. You can then test and see what strength gains you have made.
After the main lifts are done in the workout, you can then use the variety of different exercises we spoke about. This is to hit the other muscle groups of the body. Use exercises here that feel appropriate and will assist the big lifts. It is key to include compound lift varieties that will work the entire body. Try to stay away from isolation exercises as much as possible. While these are good, they are not what we are after at the moment.
If you set PR after PR while still consistently activating all the muscle groups to a high the degree, then your muscles will, over time, grow. Gaining strength and size is much easier when you sit down and plan out your program with a periodised approach. Making sure to have progressive overload in there. This way is much better than just going into the gym and winging it by doing something different each time you step foot in the gym.
Consistency is key when it comes to building size, do not over complicate it. Keep It Simple, Stupid. The KISS method has shown time and time again to be a massive secret to success for many people.

Exercise Tip: The Hollow Body Hold

If you want to build a strong and stable core then I highly recommend this exercise. It’s not a staple in gymnastic programming for no reason!

Hollow-body holds mimic the lumbopelvic postion. This is great as it builds the abdominal muscles to counteract anterior pelvic tilt. (Think of these instagram “influencers” that have massive glutes. This is what makes that illusion!)

Here’s how to perform this exercise:

  1. Lie in a supine position with the arms in the air and the knees bent. Make sure that there is no gap between the floor and your lumbar spine.
  2. Gradually lower the hands and legs towards the floor while keeping this lumbar position. Once you feel your back beginning to arch raise the hand and legs slightly so that you regain this position.
  3. Hold this position for a set period of time. Keeping the lumbar spine flat against the floor for the duration of the set.

I usually go for 30-60 second holds on this and would perform 4 sets.

Start off by building up to 30 seconds, it’s not as easy as it looks!