I take exception to a lot of the silly and needless exercises I see personal trainers directing people to do every day in the gym. (No, this is not a rant against personal trainers – I’ll clarify my thoughts there in a future post).
The one exercise I see day in and day out that royally pisses me off is the kettlebell swing, the latest craze in the fitness world. Perhaps you’ve seen it: Someone in the gym places a kettlebell on the floor, bends down to grasp it, then in one motion, swings the weight outward until they are standing upright with the weight extended out in front of them. Then back down, and repeat over and over.
If it were done as a slow, steady move, this would actually be a beneficial exercise. It would be a combination of deadlift and front raise, working much of the upper body and the legs effectively.
However, instead of teaching it as such, trainers are instructing people to do kettlebell swings as a form of cardio. All that silly advice about lifting a weight safely to avoid back injury goes out the window, and they tell you to swing it instead.
Am I really the only person who sees what’s wrong with this picture?
Well hey, I like hearing the good news first, and here’s the good news: If you’re an undecided college student, this ridiculous “exercise” is going to create lots of new work for chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons, just like the Atkins diet will make renal centers and kidney specialists rich.
Here’s why the kettlebell swing makes me cringe: I suffer from a chronic, permanent joint injury. I severely injured my left ankle running many years ago, and the damage is permanent. There’s no cure or fix for it either. I just have to live with it. And believe me, it hurts. On a good day I feel like I have a sprained ankle. On a bad day you’ll find me laying around the house with an ice pack on my ankle and half a bottle of Advil in my belly.
Believe me, you don’t want a joint or back injury. And kettlebell swings will give you both. I’m not a doctor, I am fortunate to be one of the few people I know who never has lower back pain. This is the result of knowing, identifying, and avoiding unsafe movements – and I put kettlebell swings at the top of the unsafe exercises list.