We here at DNA-Movement are passionate about a lot of things. We like our mountain biking, our trail running, our strength training, our swimming (well Anne likes swimming!), our crazy pup Lucky…the list goes on. Basically anything that gets us up and moving we’re generally a fan of.
Over the course of this and some following blog posts, we’d like to take the chance to share with you some things that make up our training style. Of course we work quite a bit with natural movement, but did you also know that we’re quite serious about unconventional training methods and implements such as calasthenics, kettlebells, sandbags, steel clubs, and steel maces? Not sure what all those things are or how they can impact your fitness and overall health? Well then you’ve come to the right place my friends! Read on and I’ll explain!
In this post we’ll start off with the kettlebell. By this point in time I’m sure you’ve heard of these masterful works of fitness art, either from a friend who does Crossfit, a video you’ve seen online, or just seen them laying on the floor (most likely unused) at your local gym. Kettlebells (NOT kettleBALLS!!!) have actually been around forever, but only recently gained popularity in the mainstream fitness world. (If you still have no idea what I’m talking about, look to the image above, I’m modeling the kettllebells here!…)
Anyway, kettlebells are near and dear to my heart because about 10 years ago they were my first introduction to the world of unconventional fitness training. I found them as a colleague of mine started to work with them and shared some of his knowledge with me. I was soon shown the world of things like swings, cleans, snatches, windmills, turkish get ups, goblet squats, and tons of other improvised movements that I could do with this medieval looking object. My mind was absolutely blown. How could one object hold so many different and varied possibilities!? It was like having an entire gym boiled down into one singular object! I immediately saw the benefits and possibilities that lay within, and immersed myself in the kettlebell world.
Without boring you with too much more of my personal story regarding these savage beasts, I’ll instead cut to the meat of this post. While there are dozens of movements that you can perform with a kettlebell, there are three that stand alone: the swing, the goblet squat, and the turkish getup. These three movements, not only exemplify the uniqueness of the kettlebell, but combine solid mobility and strength work, along with general conditioning. There’s no such thing as “all-in-one” exercises, but these are as close as it gets.
Today let’s cover the swing. The swing is interesting in that while it looks fairly simple, it’s actually one of the hardest movements to get 100% correct. Let me be clear right off the bat in saying that the swing is NOT a squat movement, but rather a hip-hinge. That is, instead of lowering your hips toward the floor in a vertical motion as we do with a squat, we are instead moving them horizontally back.
So why is a hip hinge important? Well, the hips are a powerhouse for explosive movements. Think that you don’t need explosive movement? Well when is the last time you needed to take a short “hop” over a puddle? Or potentially needed to bound up stairs in a rush? Even if you’re not competing in an athletic event, explosiveness needs to be a part of your repertoire if you’re going to be healthy and resilient from injury.
The hip hinge is also important because it has a direct effect on our mobility and our posture. Even the most active among us sit for hours a day, wreaking havoc on our posture by shortening the anterior chain and pulling us into a more slumped position. The hip hinge and swing movement is the antithesis of sitting. In doing swings consistently, we work against all the sitting our bodies have become accustomed to, regaining our posture and strengthening our posterior chain.
Lastly, the swing is just a great overall conditioning exercise. With it, we can raise our heart rate while working on muscular endurance. Do 100 swings with a moderately weighted kettlebell and tell me you don’t feel it-I dare you! Swings can be added into your program as part of an interval based set, or they can stand on their own as a strength movement. Their versatility is great for everyone!
So as you can see, the swing is a masterful movement, good for anyone from the least fit person, looking to create better quality of life, to the elite level athlete that wants to strengthen their body for competition. It’s a movement that once mastered, can have profound effect on the field of competition as well as in everyday life. I highly recommend the swing for everyone. If you need to know more about where to get started or how to incorporate it into your plan, drop me a line!!!