From July until the end of September, CrossFit Prototype will be posting a blog per week as part of our Accessory Series. These blog posts will review 1 of the 13 CFP foundational movements (Air Squat, Back Squat, Front Squat, Deadlift, Kettlebell Swing, Pull-Up, Overhead Press, Push Press, Push Jerk, Clean, Snatch & Rowing) and provide tips on accessory exercises to help improve that area of your CrossFit game.
By Bethany Farrar (B.S., CF-L1)
The Kettlebell swing, or KBS, has been a huge practice for all kinds of athletes – CrossFitters, Strongman athletes and Powerlifters. The main premise for this movement is to develop a powerful hip drive. First, let’s go over basics for the kettlebell swing and then dive into making it better for you.
Most of the time at CFP, we program the Russian style. The difference between the two movements is the ending positions of the kettlebell. American kettlebell swing ends with the kettlebell in an overhead position with the base of the kettlebell towards the ceiling whereas as with the Russian kettlebell swing, the kettlebell path stops at eye level.
In this post, I’m going to focus on techniques for eye-level but these tips would help the overhead swing as well.
There are two key factors for a successful swing, core and grip strength. One more thing to think about during the swing is breathing. This would be similar to the deadlift (refer back to The Accessory Series: The Deadlift on breathing tips).
If you have ever experienced low back pain from a workout with KBS, it could be due to poor core strength. Being able to keep the rib cage down and abs tight during the swing will protect the low back from rounding. Rounding of the back will cause too much strain with multiple repetitions.
Here are some exercises that can help achieve more core strength.
Hollow-body Holds or Rocks:
This static hold is not a favorite to many but really keeps the core engaged.
This movement forces your lower back to stay on the ground. The lower back stays on the ground by using your abdominal muscles to keep it there. By practicing this exercise slowly and controlled, you will feel “the burn” almost immediately.
Not only will this help in core strength but will help more active shoulders. Keeping the “hollow body” form while lifting the legs to a 90 degree level. Hanging from a bar will also increase grip strength.
Holding on to the Kettlebell can be another challenge in itself. The answer to this question is not more chalk. Increasing grip strength and forearm strength will prevent fatiguing during a workout.
Kettlebell carries are a great indicator of strength endurance and can help build grip and forearm strength. This movement involves holding heaving kettlebells by your side, front rack position or overhead and walking. This will engage your core, increase grip strength and improve posture. I love this video attached because it shows you all kinds of ways to do a Farmers’ walk.