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Look Ma, no hands!

September 13, 2007 01:36 PM

Problem: How do you show new trainees that it's not the arms lifting the kettlebell during swings but the hip thrust that propels the bell upwards? Solution: Take away the arms. But, how do you do that? Simple, use a rope to do swings!

Unfortunately when I thought of this solution I was at work and would have to wait until I got home to test out my theory. As soon as I got home that day, I found a jump rope and threaded it thru the handle of a 24 kg kettlebell. I then squatted down to take up the slack in the rope so that when I stood up the bell would be at knee level. I wrapped the jump rope over my shoulders from back to front, stood up and started swinging. (See photos below).


The bell would not swing unless I used proper hip thrust. Proper hip thrust is reaching back with your gluteus then reversing direction like you just touched a hot stove. At the end of the movement you should be at full hip extension with abs and gluteus tight. After a couple reps, I could swing the bell up high enough so that it stalled and dropped straight down. Look Ma, no hands!

Now when I'm teaching someone new to kettlebells the swing, if they're lifting with they're arms, I break out a jump rope to show him or her that the arms act just like the rope. The arms are a connection to the bell. The power comes from the hips. I'll also have new recruits try the no hands swings just to get a feel for how their hips are supposed to be working if they're still lifting with the arms.

There is however a tendency to look down at the kettlebell when swinging with the rope, so remember to look up. Use the no hands swing as a visual aid with people who are new to kettlebells and they'll see for themselves just how important hip thrust is.

Joe Pavel, RKC is based in Cottage Grove, MN. For more info on Joe, go to