Hello, True North movement fans… we’re here with the first entry of the year in our What the Fundamentals? series.

Today we’ll be looking at the hinge. The hinge is a fundamental movement pattern we need for a lot of cool exercises like the deadlift and kettlebell swing. This movement pattern not only pumps up our posterior chain (back, butt, and hamstrings) but can give us a pretty peach too and when done correctly, it can be one of the more powerful movement patterns you can perform. Here’s where to start:

Bench Hip Hinge – When first learning how to hinge, it can be easy to confuse it with the squat (another fundamental movement pattern). To oversimplify, the squat moves up and down while the hinge is a back and forth movement. To coach this, we like to use the bench hip hinge pictured above. Stand with your calves against the bench and push your hips back. If your calves come off the bench or you find yourself sitting on it, chances are you’ve done a squat not a hinge. Before swinging a kettlebell, your body needs to perfect this movement pattern; use this exercise to practice.

Next up, let’s load the pattern.

Kettlebell Deadlift – The kettlebell deadlift teaches us how to use our backside, not our back, to move a load in the hinge pattern. It’s important to learn this before swinging as the swing requires the power of your hip-hinge to thrust the kettlebell up. Before deadlifting, make sure your lats are activated and engaged, then push your heels through the ground and try to finish your deadlift in a straight line, just as if you were in a plank.

Time to swing!

Kettlebell Swing – A well-performed kettlebell swing should be punched forward by the hips, not pushed slowly into place; this is why it’s important to make sure you’ve perfected the bench hip hinge (hinge pattern) and kettlebell deadlift, which teaches us how to load the pattern in a controlled manner, before swinging a kettlebell. To start, engage your lats and hike the kettlebell back into the hips; power is then generated from the hips to swing the bell. Finish in a standing plank contracting the muscles of the hips, quadriceps, and core all at once.

If you’re thinking about incorporating the swing into your training program, we’d encourage you to seek out a certified kettlebell instructor as they can offer regressions and corrections based on your background and challenges.

(Pssst… did you know that True North has two StrongFirst certified kettlebell instructors and offers kettlebell classes?)

There you have it, everything you’ve ever wanted to know about swinging. Feel free to share this with anyone who might be interested in becoming a swinger too. Until next time…