Chances are you've done kettlebell swings at some point, whether it's in a group fitness class, with a personal trainer, or during a workout you created for yourself. It's a popular movement that many people are adopting these days to get stronger and improve their overall fitness level. Kettlebell swings aren't as easy as they might seem, though, and it's common to see people perform this exercise with the wrong form. Think of this as your kettlebell swing crash course.
Austin Lopez, CSCS and owner of Ausome Fit, told POPSUGAR that there are two types of kettlebell swings: American and Russian. The former go overhead while the latter don't go above the shoulders.
"Both are hip-drive movements," Lopez said. "The back should not really be working in the swings because the abs are braced and legs are driving the hip motion."
According to Lopez, the most common (and dangerous) mistake he sees is people who "don't brace [their abs] enough." If your abs aren't engaged, you run the risk of hurting your back. The second most common mistake Lopez witnesses is people not driving their hips all the way forward. "You aren't getting the most out of your swing this way and it could result in injury at heavier weights," he said.
When it comes to American kettlebell swings, which go overhead, Lopez told POPSUGAR that this requires much more shoulder mobility. "Make sure you are rolling out the muscles around the shoulder before throwing yourself into heavy [weights]," he advised. "Otherwise, make sure the shoulders are pulled back so they don't pull the back into a rounded down position."
It's a lot to think about, which means you shouldn't be afraid to go back to basics with your kettlebell swings. Choose a light weight to start, and don't move on until you've perfected your form. The most important thing to remember is that the movement doesn't come from your arms, back, or your shoulders. It's all about engaging your core muscles and driving your hips forward, all the while keeping your back straight.
Once you get the form right, you'll start to reap all the benefits kettlebell swings have to offer.