What is the purpose of a kettlebell swing? The purpose is to develop power in a horizontal direction and link the force generated by the feet pushing into the ground up the legs and hips and up the core to move a heavy implement (a kettlebell). In this video the hips are hinged, the lats pulled down, the spine neutral, the bell goes no further than chest height. The upper arms should never become disconnected from your lats, when this happens you lose the link between the core and the arms resulting in power suck and a compromised spine. On the downswing the bell should be pushed down by the lats and abs creating more power on the next up swing. Squeeze your cheeks together at the top like you’ve got a $100 bill in there and its a windy day! The power produced in this type of swing called the “hard style swing” is sufficient to train for explosiveness in any sport and it is possible to do high reps 25 to 100 in a set, creating a huge metabolic effect for fat loss.
In the following overhead type of swing I see frequently in gyms, the arms become disconnected from the body and force production is lost. The argument for this type of swing is to develop more range of motion in the shoulder, but remember this is not the point of the kettlebell swing…power and linking the force generated through the body to move the bell outward is the point. As you can see the bell slows down as it reaches the overhead position and my upper back starts to sway, meaning my arms have become disconnected from my core and all the force that was produced in the hips is lost thus compromising my spine and shoulder girdle.
To develop force upward instead of outward I prefer to teach the push-press and the snatch. In the push-press the kettlebell is cleaned to the racked position (at the shoulder) from there you basically “cheat” it up by bending the hips and knees and popping the bell straight over the head. This way you are still linking the force produced at the hips up the core to the arms. Slowly control the bell back down, this develops shoulder stability and strength in the lats and deltoid. The weight of the kettlebell should be just heavier than you could strict press. For example if you can press a 30lb bell without bending your knees, then push press with a 35lb.
The snatch requires a lot of skill and practice, you should be proficient in the Swing, and Push-press before learning this: The kettle bell is pulled in a straight trajectory upward (like a high pull) over the shoulder with a high elbow and then the wrist is snapped backward and the bell is caught with a locked out arm and wrist overhead.