YOU ROUND YOUR SPINE – This is the highest risk mis-manouvre! Fast ballistic move, with heavy weight, with rounded spine = blooming disaster for ligaments and disks in your back. This error will happen if the bell is too heavy, if your hamstrings are too tight to hinge properly or if your just haven’t learned the right way to do it. This will hurt you badly. Don’t do it. A powerful exercise must be used wisely, just like a chainsaw – you can do a lot of good with it, but lose your focus and swing it around without the proper precautions and it might not end so well.
Warning over – if you fear this is you, film yourself or get someone to watch you. Master the Hip Hinge to Glute Lock first, plus the Stiff Legged Deadlift, then master these with sets of 5 (low reps to avoid fatigue), then master it slowly with only a little weight added each time. They are such a great exercise however, that even if it takes you 18 months to nail it, its worth it.
YOU OVEREXTEND THE SPINE AT THE TOP – letting the kettlebell thing get too high will force you to lean back at the top, and your spine will then overextend. This will do you in. Don’t let it happen. You are in charge of the move, not the damn kettlebell!
To fix this: learn to stop, before you lean back by engaging your abs and you’d lats!
YOU CAN’T TIME IT TO SAVE YOUR LIFE – This happens a lot – especially when learning. Your hips apply power at the wrong time, the bell doesn’t go anywhere and you just cant seem to get the hang of it.
The fix — Watch clips of it being done well by accomplished kettlebell swingers, make sure you have that picture in your mind, then practice at a variety of tempos until you do get the timing down. Make sure there is nothing passive in your technique, you swing it out hard with a ‘hip snap’ and you pull it in hard with your arms.
YOU SQUAT – If you bend your knees too much, you’re squatting; not hinging. Naughty. Go back, master Hip Hinge to Glute Lock and transfer that move to the Swing itself.
YOU TRY TO GIVE YOURSELF WHIPLASH – The spine goes from arse to neck. Tail to Skull. The spine must remain fixed from arse to neck throughout the swing. The movement comes from the pelvis moving. Don’t let your head fly around during the swing, you must keep the neck still as well as the low back.
YOU DONT WANT IT BAD ENOUGH – if your kettlebell performance looks lazy, unenthusiastic and uninspiring – you’re not doing it right. It should look powerful and violent, yet controlled. It should cause other gym users to move away from you but watch on in awe out of the corner of their eyes. If it looks lazy – have a word with yourself and work on adding force and control in equal measure. It’s not one to do while watching the TV.
YOU STARTED TOO LIGHT – Its always wise to start light, but too light and it just won’t feel realistic. Make sure the weight is heavy enough that it takes some effort but light enough you can control it.
TOO MANY MOVING PARTS – Done right, these are fast, tight, controlled moves. If you seem to have more moving parts than an octopus, go back to basics. Shorten the move, control the height with your Lats, lock your glutes at the top and make sure you keep your ‘iron spine’!