How to Build Explosive Power With Kettlebell Swings

Master this movement and you will be well on your way to improving your power and athleticism!

Explosiveness is one the keys to becoming a great athlete. Typically, exercises that require triple extension are recognized as the gold standard for building explosive power. Things like Cleans, Snatches and various Pulls are used to build explosive power. But before one can master triple extension, he or she must master powerful hip extension. A great way to teach this is with the Kettlebell Swing.

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When performed correctly, Kettlebell Swings are one of the best ways to teach athletes how to actively explode their hips. In my opinion, this must be mastered before they move on to the technicalities of triple extension exercises. When an athlete knows how to explode through hip extension and activate his or her glutes to full capacity, it can be applied to other lifts such as the Squat and Deadlift, and of course to Jumps, Cleans and Snatches. Then the athlete can focus on powerful hip extension in almost all of his or her training, furthering the benefits of the exercises they perform.

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So how do you do a Kettlebell Swing with the intent of building hip power?

  • Choose a weight that you can handle. This will be lighter than you think. For example, personally I have a relatively high Vertical Jump and Broad Jump, and I deadlift over 500 pounds, yet I only use a 24kg/52lb kettlebell when I perform Swings. Remember, power exercises should not so heavy that the reps are slow. Be fast and explosive!
  • With each swing, actively squeeze your glutes as hard as possible as you reach full extension.
  • There is no need to swing past the height of mid-torso. Swinging overhead is unnecessary when the focus is powerful hips.

Here is a breakdown of the movement:

  • Start with the bell on the ground just behind your heels.
  • Hinge slightly to grab the handle.
  • Start the movement by forcefully exploding your hips forward into extension. Remember, your arms and hands are there just to hold the bell, not front raise the bell up.
  • Once full extension is reached and your glutes are squeezed as tightly as possible, flex and hinge slightly at the hip and let the momentum of the bell carry you back to the starting position.
  • Repeat, and don't let the bell come to a resting state. Immediately explode it up as quickly as possible.

For a visual demonstration, check out the video and note the difference between actively contracting the glutes and passively contracting the glutes.

Master this movement and you will be well on your way to improving your power and athleticism!

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock