Be Well: Kettlebell Swings

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I avoided kettlebell swings for a long time after I started lifting weights. The main problem was I had no idea how to do them - kettlebell swings aren't exactly the kind of weightlifting move that's easy to learn just by passively observing others in the gym. I finally got up the courage to try them out after reading a set of instructions in Shape magazine, and I've included them in my workouts ever since. As with all the exercises I try to profile on this blog, kettlebell swings are a great workout for your entire body. You should give them a shot! Instructions are as follows:

Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees bent in an athletic position, back flat, abs tight, with your shoulders back and shoulder blades pinched together.

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Make sure you choose a heavy weight - doing this with 10 lbs. is pretty much just a waste of your time. I have a 25 lb. kettlebell for this demonstration, and I would recommend swinging no less than 20 lbs.

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Initiate the swing by swinging the kettlebell back between your legs, then pull the kettlebell forward and up by powering through your legs and pressing your hips forward. The majority of your power should come from the energy expended by your legs and hips as you rise up and forward. You DO NOT want to lift the kettlebell with your back. Also, that's not pain on my face, it's pure kettlebell-swinging enjoyment.

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Swing the kettlebell until you are in a tower position, with legs extended and arms extended overhead. Your back should not arch. Instead, you should end with your back flat and your arms right behind your ears.

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Let the kettlebell swing back down as you lower back down into your athletic squat, keeping in control of the movement the entire time. You do not want the kettlebell pulling your upper body downwards - you are in charge of the kettlebell, not the other way around!

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End in the same position you started in. Try for 15 consecutive swings with a challenging weight for a great workout.

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If this movement looks a little overwhelming to you, ease yourself into it by first swinging the kettlebell only to shoulder height. Additionally, if you do not have access to a kettlebell, you can use a free weight by gripping it vertically hand-over-hand. Any iteration of this exercise will get your heart rate up while providing a great weight-bearing exercise.

I know I said this last week, but I am still thankful for all the positive feedback I got on my weightlifting dissertation last week. If this blog has inspired one girl to start lifting weights, I will have felt like every minute I've dedicated to writing here has been worth it. I truly think lifting weights leads to better health, which leads to more happiness, and who wouldn't want that?