The key to a better swing: Part 2

Perfecting the kettlebell deadlift

The hip hinge is a powerful tool for all human beings whether you are just getting into training or are a seasoned athlete looking to develop more elite level skills. There is always something to be developed and the hip hinge is the center of that learning.

Moreover, in today's deskbound society, the hip hinge is essentially rendered defunct, as our posterior chain disintegrates over our computers, desks, office chairs, steering wheels and bar stools. All the more reason to relearn and develop the hip hinge, and what better way to start than with the kettlebell deadlift.

We use the kettlebell swing to develop power, strength, workload capacity and burn body fat. But all too often people neglect to learn the prerequisite skills that allow them to really get the best value out of the swing. Not to mention, the safety of not fully understanding the capacity of tool in your hands. Imagine taking your driving test, but not knowing where the break is located in the car. You’re one and done.

Practicing and becoming proficient in the deadlift is an absolute essential before beginning to learn the nuances of the swing. So how do we do it?

The following video shows the set of progressions and cues we use at Ethos to get people in the best possible position to execute a great deadlift.

As you can see in the instructional video above, there is no pulling motion in the deadlift. That's because it isn't a pull. Despite what you may think about the deadlift, the movement is in fact a push. We push the earth down to wedge ourselves under the weight. That is the cue we give to help engage all the necessary muscles to safely and correctly perform the deadlift. All weight lifting is about your relationship with gravity, and the amount of direct force you can apply to the ground beneath you. Whether bench pressing (wedging yourself under the bar/weight by pushing back into bench, bench into ground) or chin-up (bar into wall, wall into ground) you are always pushing against the earth to achieve the desired outcome. Fact is that if we think “pull” in the deadlift, we more often than not see a disconnect in the joints and muscles, loss of form and spinal integrity that puts the athlete at risk.

So practice the deadlift to both learn and improve your swing. Think push not pull and complete the prerequisite drills (deadlift) the help you learn and hone the skills (swings). See the next installment about how to dial in the swing and progress to more advanced movements such as the clean, high pull, and snatch.

If you missed the first installment of this series in last weeks blog, click the link below: