In the world of human movement, there are few patterns more fundamental than the hinge. You know how everyone always talks about lifting with your legs and not your low back? That requires executing a proper hinge. Essentially, hinging is … um… uh… hinging from your hips and NOT from your low back.
Although it’s important to know how to stabilize the core and get movement from the hips, in my experience, very few people know how to do it until their taught. And depending on the person’s body awareness, it can be a bit of a process. That said, it’s a very worthwhile journey. If I can teach you to move from your hips, it’s gonna save a lot of wear and tear on your low back. This is key because 85% percent of the American population will have low back pain at some point.
Ouch. It hurts to even look at this.
The hinge is the essence one of my favorite exercises of all time: the deadlift. A properly executed deadlift is a GREAT addition to one’s exercise arsenal, in spite of its somewhat intimidating name. (ME: “Alright Mrs. Rossini, time to work on your DEADlift!” Mrs. Rossini takes a moment. MRS. ROSSINI: “I quit. Go fuck yourself, you’re fired.” Mark sighs and slowly walks into the sunset.) And while deadlifts are awesome, they require barbells and often times a rack if someone’s mobility isn’t great (and I love you, but yours prrrrobably isn’t).
The kettlebell swing, on the other hand, allows us to train the hinge with minimal equipment. And let me tell you, for health and hotness, the swing is MONEY.
There are five reasons I love the swing for those seeking to live the fitness dream.
1) The swing allows me to teach and groove the hinge. As mentioned above, this is a fundamental movement pattern, and knowing how to execute it properly is important for long term back health.
2) The swing works aaaall the right places. Done properly, the swing can train all the muscles on the back of the body and the core (all of which tend to be weak), while not overloading the muscles on the front of the body (all of which tend to be tight). Who doesn’t want powerful muscular glutes? (If that’s you, we can NEVER be friends. But I still wish you well in life. Godspeed.)
Um… yeah. I wasn’t talking about this type of swing.
If you don’t know what this, you’re adorable.
If you do know what this… yep, I really posted a picture of that.
3) The swing allows us to get a remarkable cardiovascular training effect without the repetitive impact of more traditional forms of cardio. Although there’s no jumping up and down or running from foot to foot involved, done properly, a swing will train your heart with incredible efficiency.
4) The swing trains power. Studies show that power, which is the ability to create strength quickly, declines over time more steeply than strength. As fitness super hero Alwyn Cosgrove points out, have you ever seen an older person fall? They don’t do it slowly. The ability to express strength quickly is an important asset to retain to maximize quality of life in the long term.
5) And lastly, but perhaps most importantly for seekers of hotness…. Swings will leave you SHREDDED. That’s part of why it’s one of the staples of our group fitness classes at MFF. For reasons we haven’t totally figured out, explosive movements burn more fat than can be explained by the calories in, calories out equation. While I burn to know why this is, at the end of the day… I care more about getting you lean. Swings rule!
So if you seek to live the health and hotness dream, I can’t recommend enough that you incorporate the swing into your fitness regime. Your low back and glutes will thank you. Also people who look at your glutes will thank you. Also people that put your glutes in their hands will thank you.