Perfect your kettlebell technique

Kettlebells are an incredibly effective addition to any workout and here personal trainer Sean Mcphillips from Supreme Training explains how to get the most from this fantastic piece of equipment.

Kettlebells are a great bit of kit, mainly because they’re versatile so you can do plenty of different exercises with them.

The problem is that they can be a bit of a scary looking piece of equipment. When you are used to traditional weights like dumbbells and barbells, these round blocks of cast iron with a handle on top look a bit strange.

So why should you give these funny looking weights a try? Because kettlebells are a magnificent tool in an industry that is so often taken in by fads that last a couple of weeks until the next big thing comes along. Kettlebells have stood the test of time because the have proved to be a great tool to condition the entire body.

Kettlebells can be used to help with a whole range of areas including:

  • Posture
  • Weight loss
  • Body conditioning
  • Muscular strength
  • Flexibility
  • Bone density
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Sporting performance

But one of the main benefits of using kettlebells is that they are great for activating the glutes. This might not sound as important as the other things on the list above, but I can assure you it is.

Nowadays many of us spend a lot of the time sitting down, at work, at home and while we are socializing. Over the years this causes your glutes to ‘switch off’ and stop working. This causes other muscles to overcompensate increasing the risk of injury particularly in the hamstrings and lower back, as many people who have been told by a physio that there problem is due to ‘weak glutes’ can confirm.

However like any piece of equipment to get the best results you have to use the correct technique. In my experience of working in and using gyms, the majority of people tend to pick up a weight and just start working out without thinking about their posture at all. This is a mistake as you have to maintain good form or you will not get the results you’re looking for.

Here I outline the correct technique for the classic kettlebell swing exercise.

The perfect Kettlebell Swing

  • Using a deadlift pick up the kettelbell and hold it in front of your thighs
  • Thrust your hips forward to push the kettlebell upwards in front of you
  • Then let the kettlebell swing back down between your legs
  • Don’t allow the kettlebell to drop below your knees. If the kettlebell does drop below the knee you are either stooping your back or dropping into a squat position, which takes the emphasis off the posterior chain and fails to activate the glutes effectively
  • Engage and extend the hips again to fire the kettlebell back upwards in front of your body.
  • Maintain thoracic extension (keeping your shoulder blades back and down and making sure you don’t hunch your back) thoughout the movement.
  • Keep your knees slightly flexed to allow the retraction of the hips.
  • Your arms don’t need to come any higher than your chest.
  • When the kettlebell swings between your legs you should feel it high up on the adductors, if this isn’t the case then check your posture to ensure you aren’t over flexing your knees or stooping forwards.

Follow these rules to ensure you are using the correct technique to get the most out of training with kettlebells.

More about Sean:

Sean is a Personal Trainer based in Middlesbrough. He runs his own personal training company, Supreme Training. He has worked with MMA fighters, Thai boxers, swimmers up to Team GB level and helped many clients reach their fitness goals. He delivers regular classes in boxercise, kettlebells and strength conditioning circuits. He has also featured in Men’s Fitness magazine.

Contact Sean:

Twitter: @TrainingSupreme