Don’t throw in the towel.

The summer holidays are, after the first school days for my children, swiftly turning into memory dust. If you took August off from strict routines around training and nutrition (I certainly did) then well done. Now it’s time to clamber unsteadily back onto the good-habit-wagon.

If you had some kind of resolution to get going with your new kettlebell and learn how to swing it really well, then this post is for you. I gave you tips, and a fine picture of a nice man doing it perfectly, on ‘hinging’ here. This is the first learning component of the kettlebell swing. The great Pavel Tsatsouline has you doing jumps up from a box squat as the second learning component, and I like that a lot, but I think that if a kettlebell beginner is also someone who might not be very experienced in strength training, then this component is rather tricky.

So I’m skipping it and taking you straight to the towel swing. Which doesn’t mean swinging a towel for a few reps and then checking your physique in the mirror.

Twist a towel through the bell’s handle. Grip the towel with both hands so that the bell hangs down by two or three inches. Assume your hinge/gorilla position, bell resting on the floor between your legs. Chivvy the bell off the floor and swing it back a little, underneath your (soon-to-be-of-steel) buttocks, then straighten briskly out of the semi-squat position, snapping your hips through so that the movement you generate causes the bell to swing forward.

This is where the towel comes into its own. When I told you about the deadlift from the hinge position, I encouraged you to ignore your arms as you lift the bell. Same with the swing: your arms are no more than cables attaching the bell to your upper body, your hands no more than hooks at the end of the cables. If, at the apex of your swing, the towel is in line with your hands and arms, you have done a good job. Look at the nice lady here.


If the bell swings higher than your hands, shame on you – you’ve been pulling with your arms, or lifting with your shoulders.

I think it’s good to have a long go at this, and try to do ten or fifteen swings, fine-tuning as you go, rather than doing a couple at a time. And you’ll soon get into the swing of it.


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