5 Common Mistakes in the Kettlebell Swing

For my money, the kettlebell swing, when done correctly, is one of the top 3 exercises you can do.

If you don't know how to do it correctly, check out this article to learn how to do a kettlebell swing.

Since I've broken down the swing before, today I want to go over a few of the common mistakes that I see people making.

Mistake 1: Squatting the Swing

The swing is a hip dominant movement, meant to be performed by pushing your hips back and loading the glutes.

It's hinge motion, not a squat motion - so your hips should move back and forward, not down and up.

Imagine pushing your butt back, trying to touch the wall 18 inches behind you - that's the swing.

Stop squatting up and down and start pushing your hips back to load up the glutes.

Mistake 2: Using Your Arms to Lift the Bell

Again, the power from the swing comes from the lower body.

The only thing your arms are doing is keeping the bell from flying away from all the power your hips generate.

Relax your arms (not your shoulders) and let the bell float weightlessly at the top of the swing.

The hips drive and the arms guide.

Mistake 3: Not Enough Tension

In an explosive movement like the swing, there is an alternating between tension and relaxation.

At the bottom of the swing there is a relaxation phase as the bell pulls you into the backswing. 

Then, from the bottom of the backswing, you begin to generate tension; drive your heels into the ground, lock your legs out, squeeze your glutes, brace your abs, pull your shoulders down and stand tall.

Every muscle from your shoulders down should be engaged at the top of the swing.

The more tension you can create, the more power you'll generate. 

Mistake 4: Hinging Too Early

If swings tend to hurt your back, this is probably you.

As a rule, the kettlebell handle should never go below your knees during the swing.

If you imagine a triangle formed by both knees and your zipper, that's the area where the kettlebell should enter into the backswing.

Avoid hinging too early and letting the kettlebell drop below that triangle.

Keeping the bell high in your groin keeps the stress on your glutes and legs instead of your lower back.

Mistake 5: Incorrect Breathing

Use power breathing during the swing, which will help create intra abdominal pressure and protect your back.

During power breathing, push your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

As you hike the bell into the backswing, take a big sniff of air in through your nose

Then, as you snap up and lock your hips out, sharply exhale through your mouth, compressing the air with your tongue.

It'll make a TSSSS sound, resembling a pressure relief valve.

That TSSSS sound is what cause your abs to contract harder and protects your back.

Wrapping Up

The swing is simple yet complex.

It takes only a few minutes to learn, but years to master.

So take these cues and work them into your practice.

Hone the swing, you'll get so much more out of it when you do it correctly.

In Strength and Health,