Monday, July 25, 2011

What Do Kettlebell Swings Really Do (Part 2)?

Continuing from the previous post "What Do Kettlebell Swings Really Do (Part 1)", here is the rest of the muscles kettlebell swings workout:

  1. Finger flexors/extensors (intrinsics & extrinsics).
  2. Wrist stabilizers.
  3. Biceps/Triceps via elbow co-contraction.
  4. Chest/Shoulder muscles, Rotator cuff, and Scapular stabilizers.
  5. The Entire Core.
  6. Gluteals & Hip stabilizers: One of the biggest points of leverage for the swing comes from the gluteals.  The gluteal muscles control hip extension which is the “hip pop” motion one experiences at the top of the swing. In addition, the swing will strengthen hip abductors, internal, and external rotators which improve the dynamic stability of the hip joint.
  7. Quadriceps & Hamstrings in Co-contraction:  To properly “lock out” the knee and hip for a perfect swing, one must contract the quads and hamstrings simultaneously. This powerful and high-quality contraction of the knee and hip muscles is an effective way to recruit lean muscle mass (which in turn, will metabolize fat!).
  8. Ankle Stabilizers:  As the primary muscle group of balance, the ankle stabilizers are forced to respond to the tempo of each swing so that one is not thrown off balance by the centrifugal force of the kettlebell in motion. This is a wonderful way to improve balance, agility, and instinctual righting responses to prevent falls.
  9. Foot Instrinsics/Extrinsics: The foot is the anchor of the body during stance activities. As the ankle moves, each joint in the foot must respond in kind to accommodate for changes in mechanical force. Swings are a great way to strengthen the foot without the threat of joint impact, tendonitis caused by isolation exercises, or aggravation of sensitive foot structures such as the plantar fascia.
Additionally, if you complete the picture by swinging with cervical spine elongation and retraction, you will literally work out every muscle in your body in one repetition of a ballistic kettlebell swing.  Imagine the power and efficacy of compounding multiple swings in a single workout session! Swings are a force to be reckoned with. They are foundational, effective, and never get old!

Coming up: Do kettlebells weigh enough? I’ve heard it said: “Look. I squat 300lbs in the squat rack. Why should I workout with something a fraction of the weight?”  In my next post, I will discuss the incredible physics behind kettlebells and what makes Kettlebell Therapy so effective.

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