Try-This Tuesday: Staggered-Stance Kettlebell Swingby Jen Sinkler
We talk about this concept a lot, but a little off kilter is often right on target for our bodies. As discussed, we ourselves are not even, so it makes sense when what we crave and require physically isn’t even, either.
When setting up for a regular bilateral (two-legged) squat or deadlift, you very likely line your feet up evenly (or relatively so) by default. And that’s fab, most of the time.
But, there are ways to ask yourself for a little bit more, a little bit different. We’ve explored one route recently with the B-stance (or kickstand) variations we’ve been kicking around, and another way of emphasizing a single leg is to stagger your feet, just slightly.
Enter the staggered-stance kettlebell swing.
Unlike single-legged and kickstand lifts, you’re not shifting your weight into a single leg, but rather remaining balanced between two feet and changing the stimulus by increasing your range of motion on your forward side. Essentially, because your hip hinge becomes deeper on one side (because your feet are staggered), the leg that’s more forward gets to do more of the work of slowing the weight and then reversing its path forward again. So, what ends up happening, essentially, is that you increase the whiz-bang-pow effect of the overload during the backswing.
Practicing this powerful, controlled catching of the weight and its reversal of motion quickly is great for both injury prevention and power development (useful for everyday activities and any sort of athletic ask), and packs a punch in terms of muscle recruitment, too. Useful all around, and as delightful as swing variations tend to be.
As an aside, you can also perform kickstand swings for more of a one-legged challenge, but let’s start with a slight stagger, shall we?
Kettlebell Staggered-Stance Swing
- Position your feet approximately shoulder-width apart, so that the handle of the kettlebell may pass through your legs on the back swing. Slightly stagger your feet forward to backward.
- With a kettlebell on the floor just in front of you, push your hips back, then bend your knees just enough that you can grip the handle of the bell with both hands, shoulders remaining above hips, tension in the backs of your legs and your glutes, and knees bent slightly in an athletic stance.
- As with a regular swing, hike the kettlebell back and up between your legs and push your butt back, slightly straightening your legs to load your posterior chain as you do so. Your forearms should make contact with your upper, inner thighs. (A lot of contact! Contact is good!)
- When the kettlebell reaches its farthest point back, quickly stand up, using the power of your hips, hamstrings, and glutes to “float” the kettlebell up to about shoulder height. Make sure to keep your shoulders pulled back and down, and don’t let the bell pull your chest forward.
- Reverse the movement by pulling the kettlebell down through the same arc, staying upright as long as possible before you snap your hips backward and again pass the kettlebell high back between your legs. Keep your chest broad the entire time, rather than caved in.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, using a powerful hip extension to generate upward momentum in the bell.
- When you’re ready to stop, pause at the bottom of the swing portion, gently parking the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Alternate which side you stagger each set.