How to Teach Yourself to Hinge for Kettlebell Swings and Deadlifts
The hinge is one of the key movement patterns in humans, enabling us to bend and extend at the hip like when we sit or stand. Not to mention, the hinge is the movement pattern used during exercises like deadlifts and kettlebell swings. Unfortunately, the hinge is a difficult movement to learn and one of the easiest to mess up, leading to injuries.
The best way to learn to hinge properly is under the supervision of a coach or someone who knows movement. But that’s not always ideal. So, here’s a way to teach yourself the hinge without a coach or someone watching you. You can do this at home in front of a mirror with a band tied to something or shut in a door or with cables like I use in the video below. The mirror is the only key component because that’s what you’ll use to keep an eye on your form.
The exercise you’ll perform is a cable (or band) pull through. The setup and execution are just like a kettlebell swing but in a slower, less explosive motion. Here are the cues for a kettlebell swing:
- The swing is not a squat – there should be knee bend but not much
- The swing is a hip hinge – meaning your body should “hinge” at the hip like a door and the doorway it’s attached to
- From a standing position, you will push your hips back to load the hamstrings (feel a stretch) – a great cue for this is if you were shutting a car door when your arms are full of groceries
- To raise the kettlebell or initiate the swing, you will “fire” or contract your glutes as explosively as possible (in the cable pull through it will be an explosive contraction but you should maintain control like any other cable exercise)
- This explosive movement is what swings the kettlebell, your arms/shoulders shouldn’t do any work (your arms shouldn’t move the cable away from your body at the top of this exercise)
- Keep your hands close to your upper thighs during the downward loading phase – if you find the kettlebell (or handles in this case) close to the floor at any point, you’re squatting instead of swinging
- Always maintain a neutral spine during kettlebell swings – as long as your hands are close to your thighs and your torso remains as upright as possible in the loading position, you should be fine
You’ll notice the difference in explosiveness but similarities in movement in this video demo of a kettlebell swing:
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