The Band-Resisted Kettlebell Swing is one of the easiest ways to make the Kettlebell Swing more difficult, and in turn make you a faster and more explosive athlete.
Unfortunately, many gyms have a limited selection of kettlebells. You can count yourself lucky if they even have one, and it's usually pretty light.
At a certain point, swinging a lightweight kettlebell becomes nothing more than a conditioning exercise. That's fine if your goal is to improve conditioning or burn fat. But you will eventually need a heavier kettlebell to take advantage of the other benefits of the Kettlebell Swing, which include:
Improving full-body strength with a focus on the glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles.
Reinforcing the hip hinge, which is a fundamental athletic movement pattern everyone needs to master.
Building explosive power similar to Olympic lifts
Reversing lower back pain.
For more details on the benefits, common mistakes and technique of the standard Kettlebell Swing, check out this article.
Attaching a resistance band to a kettlebell makes it harder to swing. You need to drive your hips forward with more force to overcome the resistance provided by the band.
This has a benefit other than just making it more difficult. The band accelerates the kettlebell on the downward portion of the swing, forcing your muscles to decelerate the fast-moving weight before the next swing.
According to Dr. Craig Marker, certified Strongfirst Kettlebell Instructor, this actually turns the move into a plyometric movement similar to the Depth Jump (shown below).
"We can activate the same beneficial mechanisms found in the Depth Jump with Russian Kettlebell Swings by placing an emphasis on the downward [eccentric] portion of the swing," he wrote in an article on StrongFirst.com. "The more we force the kettlebell down, the greater the plyometric effect."
The kettlebell moving at a high speed forces you to quickly decelerate and snap your hips forward to accelerate it again, similar to landing from a jump and then jumping again—the original plyometric exercise developed over 50 years ago by Soviet scientist Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky.
This trains the stretch-shortening cycle, a three-step process in which your muscles slow down your body's momentum, hold on to the energy that results from that movement for a tiny fraction of a second, and then convert that energy into more forceful movement (e.g., the next swing). As you improve the stretch-shortening cycle, your muscles become better able to generate fast, powerful movement.
So why perform Band-Resisted Kettlebell Swings instead of Depth Jumps? According to Marker, it seems like a safer alternative. Inexperienced athletes often perform Depth Jumps from a box that's too higH, or they don't know how to land properly. The result is an exercise that looks like a plyo, but is more likely to cause an injury than increase power.
During a Kettlebell Swing, your feet are locked on the ground and there's minimal impact on your joints. Of course, you need to know how to perform a standard Kettlebell Swing properly before you even think about adding a band, but overall there's a smaller risk for error.
Better yet, adding Band-Resisted Kettlebell Swings couldn't be easier.
Attach a lightweight resistance band to the horns of a kettlebell and stand with each foot on the band.
Drive your hips forward to explosively propel the kettlebell into the air.
Keep your core tight and back flat, and be ready for the band to quickly swing the kettlebell downward.
Decelerate the kettlebell between your legs and snap your hips forward as quickly as possible. The faster the transition between the downswing and the upswing, the better the plyometric effect.
Perform no more than 10 reps, resting for 2-3 minutes between sets. Every rep should be explosive. Creating a conditioning effect is not your goal.
To see the Band-Resisted Kettlebell Swing in action, check out the below video of Marker performing the exercise.
RELATED: 5 Ways Athletes do Plyometrics Wrong
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