Lorraine, thanks for starting this discussion.
One thing I learned when I took a KB bootcamp, was that different phrases will make that AH-HA go off for different people. So KB instructors are taught to use a variety of phrases to give the same instruction so that everyone can get their ah-ha moments.
I agree with EVERYTHING Lorraine says. But to give other wording so others may get their ah-ha, here is some of what I was taught.
Always a concave (inside of spoon) lower back as rounding this puts a lot of pressure on your spine especially as you go up in weight.
So no rounding of the lower back. Also, no rounding of the upper back (e.g. shoulders back).
KB ends up high in your crotch (Andrea Chang liked to say it is your body, you are allowed to touch yourself). If your KB is low this also puts a lot of strain on your back.
Everyone's anatomy is different - length of arms, legs, back, etc. You should never feel pain or strain while doing the swing or your form is off. Your swing may look fine, even to an RKC trainer, but you may need to adjust your swing so you do not feel strain/pain. (Example, my back is longer, I have to go another inch lower with my butt at the end of the swing or I will start feeling strain in my lower back).
Again, you can practice without a bell and get your form checked out - someone taking a video of you is great to see what you are really doing).
To do the top of the swing, you are doing a "plank".
Feet firmly on the floor, push down into the floor and there should be no/little wiggle in your feet while you are doing the swing.
Kneecaps pulled up.
Ribs actually pulled towards the hips - put fingers on bottom ribs and hip bones and try to get them closer. To me this feels like flattening my stomach towards my spine rather than sucking in my stomach.
Shoulders back and packed - this means right shoulder blade goes in your left back jeans pocket, left shoulder blade goes in your right back jeans pocket. The ah-ha words that made me understand this movement was when Andrea said it is as if you have a burr in your bra strap in the middle of your back and you are wiggling your back to get it out.
Shoulders back and packed includes lats activated (or working) which pulls your shoulders down so they are not raised.
Head neutral with spine as if there is one line from the top of your head down to your tailbone. Note: Some trainers teach to have your face forward all the time, but for me this strains my back.
I was taught drills where we did planks for 30-60 seconds, then jumped up and did some swings. Then did more planks and more swings.
Arms are out, anywhere from below waist level to shoulder level depending on your hip snap force and the KB weight.
Bottom of the swing,
During the entire swing, the shoulders stay back and packed.
Core stays tight with ribs pulled toward hips.
The same as Lorraine said, put your hands at the top of your legs and fold over your hands, but really reach back with your butt as if you are trying to go to the bathroom in a really dirty porta-potty (portable bathroom) where you don't want to touch the seat but need to get your butt back enough to go to the bathroom down the hole. So reach way back over the toilet hole with your rear end without sitting down.
Your arms come down (beginners can just allow the KB to pull them down, more advanced you use your lats to pull the KB down) and end up with your hands in your crotch.
You back does not go horizontal with the floor as the KB would drop too low and strain your lower back, your back is at an angle only going down enough to get the KB between your legs with your hands ending up in your crotch.
Hip movement part (the snap forward, the movement backward) - this is the ballistic part, so as you get better you want this to be a quick hard movement in both directions.
I suggest being comfortable with the basic swing and then using this to sharpen up your hip snap.
I have been told these descriptions:
Hip snap forward:
Doing a quick push forward as if you are pushing a table forward with your hips.
My ah-ha when we did a drill where you pulled all the muscles together into the top of the swing "plank posture" at the SAME second. So in the same second pull up knee caps, pull stomach back into spine, shoulders back and packed, feet pushing into the ground.
Hip "snap" backward:
As if you are punching a pole or person that is standing behind you. A punch motion with your butt backward into the 'over the porta potty' position.
So it is a hip snap backward and a hip snap forward.
Note: I was taught the hip snap forward weeks before I was taught the hip snap backwards, so that might be a more advanced part of the swing.
There are all kinds of drills that trainers have to help people get back on their heels for the swing, activate their hamstrings (e.g. make these muscles really work), activate their lats, etc.
The swing is a progression, first goal be safe, second goal keep working form to create a powerful swing that will really work many muscles in your body in the same exercise.
Edited by: JANEKB at: 8/24/2011 (18:05)
Doing traditional kettlebell exercises, RKC style. Check out The Kettlebell Challenge sparkteam for more info - it welcomes everyone, from beginner to KB certified.
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