Before you learn to swing

So you want to get into Kettlebells but you just can’t get the hang of that swing yet.
Don’t give up just yet, there are plenty exercises that can be done without involving a swing and in this post I’ll attempt to teach you some very basic lifts to get you started on your journey into Kettlebells.

Now before we even touch a kettlebell I’d like to talk about the hip hinge. The hip hinge basically involves sliding your hips backwards with a slight bend in your knees whilst leaning forward keeping your spine as straight as possible.
One of the most simple ways to learn to hip hinge is with the box squat. Basically sitting down onto a box or chair or in my case a stool which used for the demo clips.

Now to perform the box squat you will first off need a box or something you can sit on that is between 20 – 30inchs depending on your height.
Once you have your box stand in front of it with your feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider.
Before decending into squat pull your shoulders back and down, this will help keep your back straight and is a good habit to build for when we progress to deadlifts and Swings.
Next, keeping your shoulders retracted and letting your arms hang, slide your hips back until your butt touches the box all the while keeping your back as straight as possible.
To get back to the starting position, drive your heels into the ground pushing with your quads and thrusting your hips forwards squeezing your glutes at the top.

That’s the basic box squat. Practice until you are comfortable then move on to the box deadlift.

Once you’re confident with the box squat, you can move onto the box Sumo deadlift by adding a kettlebell into the mix.
The setup and is exactly the same as we did with the squat except this time we’ll be grabbing a hold of a kettlebell from between our feet.

The next step is to remove the box to make this a regular Sumo deadlift, with your feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider and the kettlebell between your feet.
Keeping your shoulders retracted and letting your arms hang, slide your hips back as before only instead of waiting for your butt to hit the box, only go as low as needed to reach the kettlebell handle whilst maintaining a straight or neutral spine.
Then drive your heels into the ground pushing with your quads and thrusting your hips forwards squeezing your glutes at the top.

Now we’ve managed to pick the kettlebell up from the floor we can move onto another simple exercise, the round the body pass.
This little exercise I like to use whilst warming up or as bit of a break in cardio focused flows.
Simply swing the kettlebell behind your back with one hand whilst reaching round with the other hand and passing the kettlebell to swing back to the front and again pass the kettlebell to the other hand.
Which direction you start isn’t important, although I advise doing an even amount of rotations both clockwise and anticlockwise so as not to cause any muscle imbalances.

Another exercise we can perform from this position is the figure 8.
Swing the kettlebell back through your legs switching hands behind you (the direction of the kettlebell always starts from front to back).
With the kettlebell now in your left hand, swing around outside of left leg, and bring it back through your legs, switching back to your right hand behind you.
Use your hips and legs to power the momentum of the kettlebell. Again I advise switching direction every now and then to keep things in balance.

The final exercise I’d like to show you before we move on to lifts like the goblet clean and squat is the Slingshot shot.
The sling shot is like combining the round the body pass and the figure 8.
Begin as you would a figure 8 passing the kettlebell between your legs and passing to your other hand, now as you swing the kettlebell back round to the front curl it up bending your arm at the elbow so as to be able to catch the bell part in your opposite hand whilst still holding onto the handle.

Now we’ve mastered the deadlift and the round the body pass it’s time to move on to the high row and the goblet clean.
We’ll start with he high row.
Begin as you would with a Deadlift, lifting the kettlebell from the floor by driving with your legs and hips. Now as you reach the top of the deadlift and your legs begin to straighten, pull the kettlebell up by shrugging at the shoulders and allowing your elbows to flare up and out as you pull with your arms until the handle of the kettlebell reaches about nipple height then allow the kettlebell to decend back to the floor keeping it under control the whole time.

Now to turn this high row into a goblet clean all that is needed is a change of hand position.
Begin by lifting the kettlebell exactly as you would for a high row only this time as the kettlebell is asceding past your waistline, as you pull up, loosen your grip on the handle and slide your hands down to the horns and re- grip whilst at the same time dropping your elbows down and pulling your forearms into the side of the bell.

You should now be holding the kettlebell by the horns at chest height, this is the standard Goblet position. There are a bunch of different ways to hold the kettlebell in the goblet position from flipping the kettlebell and still holding the horns to simply grabbing it by the bell. Give them all a try a find which you find most comfortable.

Personally I prefer holding the bell in my hands and hooking my thumbs around the horns, especially when pressing or performing halos. Which happen to be the next exercises I’d like to show you.

First off the Halo which is an excellent exercise for working the entire shoulder girdle.
Start with the kettlebell in the goblet position you find most comfortable, Lift the kettlebell over one shoulder moving it all the way around your head and over the opposite shoulder, bring it back to it’s starting location in front of your chest.

Next is the goblet press.
This one is nice and simple.
From the goblet position simply press the kettlebell over head with your arms whilst at the same time pulling your shoulder blades back and down to keep your arms stable. As with all the lifts keep everything nice and tight in the core and drive your heels into the floor case you press.

Last but definitely not least are Goblet squat and Lunges.
Performing the goblet squat is almost exactly the same as the box squat from earlier, only this time instead of waiting to hit the box with your butt, you must stop your decent yourself.
Start stood with the kettlebell in the goblet position, keeping your shoulders retracted and the kettlebell close to your chest, slide your hips back and bend your knes until your butt reaches your knee level or lower, all the while keeping your back as straight as possible. Next drive your heels into the ground pushing with your quads and thrusting your hips forwards squeezing your glutes at the top.

Finally we come to the goblet Lunge.
Holding the kettlebell in the goblet position, step back so as you are Kneeling on one knee, then with the front foot drive your heels into the ground pressing with your quads until you are back in the starting position.

Personally I believe these lifts should be enough to get you started with the kettlebell.
I have also included a couple of sample workout flows you can do using just these lifts, give them a try and let me know what you think.

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