Why do we ask so much noise when we swing a kettlebell? Do we have to feel silly and hiss? Well, yes if you want a more powerful swing. Here is power breathing demystified.
When you hiss, you cut off the air opening and force yourself to contract your abs to get the air through the small hole. When you contract your abs, your back is protected and you are experiencing hyper-irradiation – the phenomenon that muscles contract harder when they contract together. The more muscles you use, the more weight you can move – who knew?
When being coached by a kettlebell instructor, you will probably hear the words, “Use your hips!” Lately, I’ve had opportunities to watch groups of people I didn’t know before doing a high volume of swings and towards the end, it can look more like “thrusting” your hips forward instead of standing tall and using your hips to propel your forearms off your thighs when you stand straight up. (I hope I did a better job of explaining this in the video demonstration :))
The swing is basically a hike backward and then getting into a plank, holding that plank until the last second (playing chicken with yourself) and then hiking the bell back again once your triceps re-engage with your rib cage. A swing is, in essence, “hike, plank (hold), hike, plank (hold)…” The “Use your hips” cue is there to tell you to keep from pulling with your arms – not to tell you to thrust the bell forward and lean backward at the top of the swing.
I’ve been on a kick lately with kettlebell cleans. Honestly, it’s one of those exercises that can be explained and explained and over explained and can get to the point of diminishing returns when you overthink it. One of the best ways to learn the clean is to just do it. It helps to add it in with other exercises so your mind isn’t hyperfocused on the clean. This follow along gives you the tools to practice your cleans without frying your nervous system and banging your head (or wrists, really!!) against a “wall.”