Kettlebells And Hip Hinge - CalisthenFit Health & Fitness Dublin

Kettlebells And Hip Hinge

When I teach kettlebells to new clients, I always asked them the most fundamental and basic movement of the kettlebell swing:

"Do you know what a hip hinge is and how to do it?"

Usually the answer is with "Never heard of this word before" or they show me a squat!!

Then I ask especially to people who "have done" kettlebells before and to give me a hinge... I just cringe!

Imagine my facial expression.

Now - A Hip Hinge is NOT NOT NOT a Squat.

I repeat - A Hip Hinge is NOT a Squat!

Both are completely different.

A hip hinge engages more the posterior chains - hamstrings and glutes, and an extension of the hips.


A squat focuses on the anterior - more a knee dominant and loads the quads. 

When you are hinging, you want to focus on the hips joints, then "push" your buttocks back with a slight bent of the knees and keep them nearly inline with your ankles. The knees will not pass your toes.

If you have done deadlift or SL RDL before with proper form, you'll understand this movement.

Doing it correctly, you will feel your hamstrings kicking in, as well as your glutes, so that you are not falling back. Your toes might want to lift up.

When squatting you are going down, like wanting to sit on a chair, and your knees will pass your toes (I know... there are still people out there saying that you will damage your knees if they go over your toes!!). Have a read HERE if you want to demystify that idea.

My (terrible) drawing below will give you a more visual clue between a hinge and a squat:

Hip Hinge vs Squat

When it comes to kettlebell swing and before any of my students start swinging, they have to get that HIP HINGE done correctly and not using their lumbar as compensation.


1- Get the basics and techniques first. Always master the foundations.

2- Prevent injuries (mainly low back pain that I see so often with people who were given a bell and just been told to swing!)

3- To swing with your hips and use your glutes and posterior chains, instead of the arms and neck.

4- To be able to perform the other cool things from a kettlebell perspectives (single arm swing, clean, press, snatch).

Remember that the hip hinge is a basic and fundamental human body movement. You're losing it with too much sitting which leads to tight hips, hamstrings and deactivation of your glutes.

Think about it when you're going to pick up your heavy groceries from the ground and need to carry them.

Majority of people will bend, round their back and pick up their bags.

Next time, try to hinge and get your heavy bag. It will make a big difference on your back and the weight you're going to pick up.

I'm taking this from Dan John who gave a really simple analogy about the hinge and the swing:

"With the kettlebell swing, the hinge is the "bow" and the finish is the "arrow" "

To be able to swing with intensity and at times heavy, you need maximal hip hinge to get that kettlebell moving. There's minimal movement and bending of the knees. All come from your hips and posterior chains.

Here's a quick demo with one of my student showing the difference of a squat and a hip hinge setup before you swing the bell:

If your back or neck hurts when swinging kettlebell, there are a few issues. The most common ones are:

1- You're squatting instead of hinging

2- You're swinging with your arms or neck

3- You're not engaging your glutes

If your glutes and hamstrings are not sore the following day but your back hurts, you did not swing your kettlebell correctly. Simple as that.

Make sure you get that hip hinge right before you start swinging kettlebell.

I run a few times a year a beginner kettlebell course for those insterested in learning the correct techniques. Then you can move on to the more advanced and cool things that kettlebell can give to your body and strength. Contact me Here for the next term.

To Your Better Health and Strength,


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Jeanne Le Bailly

Bodyweight, Strength and Fat loss coach. PN L1, RKC, PCC and Movement/Animal Flow instructor. Make your body move the way it's intended to...

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