Mastering the Basics

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by HerrKaleun, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. HerrKaleun

    HerrKaleun First Timer

    I'm currently reading my way through S&S (my first experience with Kettlebells) and I am really trying my hardest to master the basics - like the book says, it's practice not working out!

    I am trying hard to:

    1: Squat with my tail up and back straight
    2: "Hike" the KB back
    3: Swing with my hips
    4: Keep arms loose and straight with KB through entire swing
    5: Stand up tall, squeeze my abs and glutes at the top

    However, I feel like I am just not doing all of these things correctly, especially:

    1. Not hiking as far back as I can
    2. Squatting too early (before the bell comes between my legs?)
    3. Not squeezing my abs/glutes enough

    Can I get some advice/feedback from a video I made so I don't hurt myself?

    Thank you
    Kozushi and bryce like this.
  2. bryce

    bryce Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    I'm still new to kettlebells as well and even posted my own first form check video today. I think this video by Karen Smith might be useful for you. (She has a lot of good videos.)

    To me, it looks like you're turning your swing into a squat. Instead of bending your knees so much and keeping your back close to vertical, you should be bending at the hips and leaning forward. That will also help correct your issue with hiking the bell back properly.

    Hopefully, someone more knowledgeable will chime in but that's the issue I see.
  3. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Hello and welcome, @HerrKaleun

    Those swings are pretty good for starting out! You've got the right idea, moving the bell with explosive hip power. J would say that you are doing your 1-5 points quite well, with a couple of adjustments to make:

    1. Rather than squat, hinge. So in the bottom of the swing position, have your hips higher, with less knee bend. Look at Pavel's photos in S&S. You can practice slowly with kettlebell deadlifts. Then bring it to the swing.

    2. Start with the bell out in front of you so you can hike it back better.

    5. Hold the standing plank position (top of the swung) until you feel your arms reconnect with your ribcage, when the bell is about halfway down. Then hinge. This will keep the kettlebell handle high as it passed through your legs.

    Hope that helps. Keep up the good work and keep us posted.
  4. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    I don't think of swings as involving squatting. My knees do bend I think a bit when I do them, but not because I'm trying to bend them. The analogous "grind" exercise is probably the deadlift and not the squat. Yes, the legs end up bending a bit, but this is for convenience to move the bell well and not because it's integral to the point of the action.

    Here is a video I made of myself doing S&S moves including the 2 handed swing about 3 years ago, about 6 months after starting the program. I am using a 40kg bell here. I'm better at it all now, but you'll notice in my swings I wasn't squatting with my legs. They're kind of straight:

  5. SuperGirevik

    SuperGirevik More than 300 posts

    It was useful for me, that's for sure! Thanks for sharing. @Karen Smith is among the great teachers at StrongFirst. I really mean that, I have a high respect for SF teachers and their videos/articles.
  6. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    I don’t know where you live but if you have access to an instructor nearby I would desperately seek one out. It’s possible to teach yourself how to do this stuff but it’s also possible you’re going to get hurt in the process. And from what I’m seeing you’re well on the way to screwing your back up if you don’t quickly get your technique dialed in. You might get away with it with light weights but when the weight goes up you’re asking for trouble.

    You’re not sitting’re squatting and the bell is way too low at the bottom. Your hands should be close to your crotch. I wouldn’t do another swing until you learn to properly hinge. KB deadlifts are great for learning the hinge. Sit back...not down. And don’t feel bad most of us including myself have been where you’re at right now. Many years ago I screwed my back up royally trying to figure the swing out on my own. Don’t want to see you make the same mistake. Good luck bud!
  7. Jan

    Jan More than 500 posts

    @HerrKaleun: Welcome to the forum :)
    As @Hasbro said, try to find an SFG instructor. Still the best way to go forward.
  8. vlam

    vlam Double-Digit Post Count

    When doing two handed kettlebell swings, I seem to be having problems when the kettlebell is descending. Am I supposed to be controlling it and pushing it back down or just letting it drop back down by itself? Also, when the kettlebell is descending should it be heading towards the groin or knee area? Thanks!
  9. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Hi @vlam

    Either way is OK, ontrolling it and pushing it back down or just letting it drop back down by itself. With a basic 2H swing you just let it drop down by iteslf. With a "shadow swing" or overspeed swing, you actively push it back down. But even with a basic 2H swing where you're letting gravity do the down/back swing, you'll have a bit of control of the bell with the lats engaged to pack your shoulders.

    You want to keep the kettlebell high on the backswing, so groin area as opposed to knee area. Aim to keep the handle in the triangle above your knees and you should be OK.
    vlam and WxHerk like this.
  10. vlam

    vlam Double-Digit Post Count

    Thank you very much Anna C! When I first started doing 2 handed swings, I allowed the kettlebell to drop back down by itself but it felt like a sudden aggressive force pulling me back and I was worried I was going to injure my lower back. I started controlling the kettlebell coming down but it made the swing motion not feel as fluid. I would like to go back to letting the kettlebell drop back by itself, but is there any risk for a back injury? Is the weight of the kettlebell also a factor on how heavy/fast it drops back? I'm currently using a 20kg. Thanks!
  11. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    A swing done correctly with a weigh appropriate for you is safe for the back. But I can't guarantee you're doing it correctly, that 20kg is the appropriate weight, or that you're not doing something else I see all the time at the gym (and just saw this morning!!) -- doing a beautiful set of swings, and then on the very last swing completely letting go of your tightness and form and flexing your back to let the kettlebell lazily pendulum to the floor!! Ugh. This is often where people tweak their back without even realizing what they're doing. That and sloppily moving the kettlebells around after they're done training.

    As for whether the weight is a factor on how it drops back, have a look at this video where I'm doing swings with 40, 32, 24, 16, and 8 kg in turn. The form is the same. And notice my flat back as I return the bell to the starting position at the end of each set. :)

    Feel free to post another form check...
    vlam, DrFierce, WxHerk and 1 other person like this.
  12. vlam

    vlam Double-Digit Post Count

    Thank you again Anna C! Your suggestions and video are very helpful. I'll try them out and see if I can post a form check video soon.
  13. GeoffreyLevens

    GeoffreyLevens More than 500 posts

    In addition to Anna's great demo video see Galileo's Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment.
    vlam likes this.

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