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Paleo Fitness Exercise: The Swing

The swing shows you how to generate power/explosiveness from your hips and is a marvelous all-around fat-chopping device. It blends strength and cardiovascular efforts, a trait shared by few exercises.

The swing also strengthens the muscles of the lower back, and strong evidence supports that swings may ward off back problems later in life. Swings also commonly lead to what has been affectionately dubbed the “kettlebutt” — a firm, strong, and aesthetically privileged backside.

The swing is best performed with a kettlebell (and it’s often called a “kettlebell swing”), but you may use a dumbbell as well. A barbell is far too unwieldy for this exercise.

Here’s how to do the swing:

1

Assume a shoulder-width stance approximately one foot behind the weight you’re using.

Point your toes slightly outward.

2

Hinge at the hips like you would a dead lift, reach out, and grab hold of the weight.

Be sure to get the hips back and keep the back flat.

3

Start the swing with a forceful hike back of the weight, like a center hiking a football.

Keep the handle of the weight above your knees at all times; otherwise, your back may round. Also, don’t be shy about the hike! You have to forcefully throw the weight back to properly load the hips for the swing.

4

When the weight reaches the top of the backswing, immediately reverse the movement by driving your hips forward and standing up as quickly as you can.

Your hips and knees should extend simultaneously. Think “jump,” but keep your heels planted on the ground. The hips should visibly snap forward when executing the swing. The aim is to be as explosive as possible, regardless of the weight you’re using.

5

Allow the weight to float no higher than eye level before reversing and repeating the movement. Don’t lean back at the top of the swing; just stand tall.

If you have issues with your back, allow the weight to float no higher than shoulder level. When done right, the weight should float outward and upward. The movement is powered entirely by the hips. Your arms are simply loose chains connecting the weight to your body.

While performing the swing, keep the arms relaxed but the armpits tight so your shoulders don’t get pulled forward by the force of the weight. Imagine that you’re squeezing a wad of cash or wringing a sponge in your armpit. This will help to keep the shoulders in a safely packed position.

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