Jason Benguche M.S, CSCS, CISSN
Kettlebell work has exploded over the last decade. And one of the most common exercises done with the kettlebell is the swing. There are a few different schools of thought on the exact specific technique of the swing based on what “system” or organization is prescribing the movement. But from my standpoint a solid hip hinge with great posture does not have to be complicated.
However, over the years I have seen many athletes from elite to developmental struggle with the simplicity of a basic, rhythmic, hip hinge with established posture and extension. So this is where attention needs to be given first.
Establishing proper understanding and mechanics to execute the basic swing is a priority. Although it does take practice and grooving, there isn’t an athlete out there that should not be able to hinge properly. The musculature involved is too important to performance and reducing the risk of injury. But for those who have established the ability to perform the traditional swing, the Banded Kettlebell Swing is a great variation and advanced progression of a total body, ground-based, explosive hip hinge. This movement requires the following for proper execution:
Upper body postural control
Once the band is secured under the feet with a shoulder width base, the kettlebell should be placed out in front of the body.
While gripping the kettlebell the knees are slightly flexed while pulling the hips down and back to the starting positon. Arms should be extended while the head is neutral, in line with a rigid spine and the core braced.
Once stabilized in this setup with a neutral head position and flat back, the kettlebell is “hiked” on a path directly under the center of body slightly behind.
While maintaining the deep hinge and spine position, the hips are explosively extended with the arms in front to a tall vertical finish. This band variation will demand full extension at the top of the movement.
After full extension, the kettlebell will return on the same path that it arrived from. It must be noted that this eccentric portion will be more challenging due to the elastic energy of the band chosen. Consecutive reps will be done in rhythm until completion of the set when the kettlebell is set to its original position on the ground.
Upper Body- Weakness of the posterior shoulder and upper back could lead to upper back rounding. This should be corrected by shoulder retraction and strengthening the structures of the mid/upper back.
Lower Body- Improper hinge mechanics and anterior weight shift (i.e excessive knee flexion, weight on toes) should be reinforced with simple hip hinging exercises. The band good morning and barbell RDL are two foundational movements that should be mastered.
Core- Lack of control of the lower back and poor core stability will be seen in athletes without the ability to stabilize in the sagittal plane. Be sure to include isometric anti-extension and anti-flexion movements (i.e, plank variations, iso back extensions), as well as active stability flexion/extension (i.e, rollouts) in training the core to simultaneously train the anterior/posterior musculature as well as control of the glutes.
The Banded Kettlebell Swing can be a great movement to provide a solid advanced variation of a classic exercise for many different athletes. The ability to control the hip hinge pattern while producing power and speed will lead to improved performance and reduced risk of injury. Be sure to always keep progression and regression in mind while loading appropriately for quality movement.