The swing is one of the most basic of lifts with a dumbell or kettlebell. Proper coaching, viewing DVD’s, and practice can turn this most basic of exercises into a fitness altering experience. More than occasionally, there is something wrong with the ‘feel’ of this move. Short session will not provoke it, but long sessions that tests the will and intestinal fortitude will reveal an uneven soreness in the low back, buttocks or upper hamstrings. The morning after soreness is not the usual well worked feeling but more like, “We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto!”, dull, uneven ache.
One of the problems with any coaching is,…what is filtering the coaches view when he guides the student?? If your coach can do many things that are impossible for most humans,..he may not have his finger on the pulse as far as training those less physically talented.
Here is a diagnostic tool and corrective mechanism for the swing if things aren’t feeling “right”.
Uneven or unmatched left to right strength is not uncommon. There are tons of examples in overhead pressing where the lifter’s left arm is weaker than the right arm. Any coach can work with an athlete on this and consider it an normal expression of training to have unbalanced limb strength. But what about the lower back, glutes, and upper hamstrings?? Why should we assume that all is right in that region?? Just pounding into the subjects head to snap the hips, clench the cheeks, and keep their shins vertical is repeating a mantra and not a good example of individualized coaching. Cookie Cutter training slogans are not free thinking and dressing up like Elvis hardly will get you a “Live from Hawaii” TV special. Training knowledge needs to be learned, practiced, applied, and evolved. If it stays the same,..it is dead. Today’s Ultimate Fights are a far cry from the ones in ’93. This is called PROGRESS. The material may be the same,(clean and jerk, foul shot, passing the guard), but the teaching method improves.
Let’s do a test. Do a Google for the Standing Bikram Yoga Postures…. Scrap that, I’ll do it for you. — http://www.bikramyogabaltimore.com/postures/postures_standing.html
Now get on an even surface, barefoot, and try the “Balancing Stick” posture. Please note the differences from the left leg to the right. Use this as your first diagnostic/corrective tool. Apply the “Grease the Groove” methodology to this. Do it throughout the day, frequently, and fresh. Ingrain it as skill practice. Practice makes perfect if you practice perfectly. Eventually your left and right sides will feel more and more familiar and secure. They will never feel the same. It is important as well during this phase to continue your swing practice at a lower intensity, maintenance level.
Once you feel confident in your Balancing Stick, it is time to move on. Lack of progress means time has past and you are not improving, just getting older. Therefore it is necessary to try the One Legged Deadlift. This exercise is presented in my popular training DVD’s devoted to Kettlebell Training. Important things to remember are, start light, fold at the hips, pull yourself down with your hip flexors, keep your back flat and initially start the exercise with the supporting leg BENT.
You are substituting the One Legged Deadlift for the Balancing Stick in your Grease The Groove Therapy for Swings. Practice with lighter therapeutic loads so you can feel for ‘weak links’ in muscular coordination. Practice frequently to train the nervous system. Practice fresh so you do not degrade your skill. Low reps, high frequency, short duration, and varying daily density are the legs on the table of skill.
By now your Swing should be feeling great. You have been re-educating your hip flexors, gluteals, hamstrings, abdominals, and low back muscles. Your swing practice is feeling cleaner and more evenly matched as well. But that is not enough. We need to take it a step further. We need to integrate the quads and a squatting motion into this drill. “What exercise now?”, you ask. Well, the Modified Russian Lunge. This exercise is pulled from an old training manual by IronMan writer Jerry Robinson. It is a very simple, but very effective exercise for our purposes. Simply assume the lunge position. Fold at the hips so that the torso is almost resting on the thighs. Your back leg should be off the ground and slightly to the side. Now, while keeping the torso folded at the hips, push yourself up and down about 6 ot 8 inches. Start this exercise with NO weight, but adding resistance is certainly an option as you adapt. Remember to pull yourself down with your hip flexors and push up with the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Always do your exercises barefoot unless you have specific issues related to the structural integrity of your feet. Practice this Modified Russian Lunge frequently during the day, varying the repetition, time, place, and view. Use your Swing practice to feel for ‘dead’ spots or weakness that you have not addressed.
Now it is time to go back to your hard style swing practice. You can try timed sets, density training, escalating density training, supersets, Hand 2 Hand, one armed, two armed, walking, angular, double, or with an oven mitt. Any variation will do. The difference is that now you have a diagnostic tool to cure any side to side variations.
This is the Lead,..Now you have learned how to Swing it.