The kettlebell swing is an explosive lift that forces you to use maximum power in the posterior chain (hips, back and legs) to accelerate the KB with proper technique. As a baseball player, you spend a lot of time with your spine, hips, knees and ankles flexed. Regardless of whether you are playing in games, taking infield or sitting (locker room, dugout, bullpen, home, plane, or taxi); you are always in a shortened position. The KB swing helps you get full hip extension so that you can lengthen the muscles that become
short from prolonged flexion. It also works all of the muscles from your toes to your hands in an explosive manner.
The Swing can be used as a strength/power exercise or as a conditioning tool. To improve strength/power, do 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps. For conditioning, do 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps. The energy cost of doing multiple sets of KB swings is similar to that for doing squats (about 11 kcal/min). For variety, do one-arm KB swings. If you don’t have access to a KB, use a DB with an overhand grip.
Sit Down. Push your hips back to a half-squat position and grasp the KB with both hands using an overhand grip. Hold the KB just off the ground and back between your legs. You are not squatting down, you are squatting back. Your hips are back, your arms are loose and your back and abs are tight.
Explode. Extend your hips so that your body is straight up. The explosion from your hips will send your arms forward and the KB up to eye-level. Lower it in a controlled movement by letting your hips go back and knees bend. Keeping your abs and butt tight, explode your hips up and out to repeat the movement. Note – It might take 1-2 swings to get the KB to eye level when you get it started, but you’ll get there. Focus on punching your hips up and out.
Jose Vazquez, PT, CSCS is Head Strength Coach, Texas Rangers.