The personal computer offers a profound evolution in how we work, communicate and entertain ourselves. As technology advances our minds, our bodies appear to devolve back into the hunched-over shape of neanderthals. The modern office worker often suffers from tight hamstrings, restricted hips, weak low backs, rounded shoulders and achey necks. Furthermore, the lack of large motor movement contributes to de-conditioned cardiovascular systems and a loss of conscious connection to our physicality. Given our sedentary, mentally-taxing lives we desperately need an exercise antidote.
After years working in the fitness industry, I have discovered one tool and one exercise that directly reveals and addresses all the adaptations we have made to desk-bound work : the kettlebell swing. Used for centuries in Russia, the kettlebell ranges from 10-106 pounds and looks like a cannon ball with a handle. The swing, the bedrock of kettlebell training, requires swinging the kettlebell between the legs and forcefully thrusting it to chest height. Although the movement may sound relatively simple, its elegant power is undeniable.
To execute a proper swing, the exerciser must generate explosive power from the body’s largest muscles: the quadriceps, hamstrings and especially the gluteals. With each repetition, the core muscles brace the spine and anchor the shoulders. To fuel these potent movements the heart rapidly pumps oxygen which provides excellent aerobic training. This single exercise offers crucial postural corrections, develops cardiovascular capacity and increases flexibility. Furthermore, mastering the swing requires heightened sensory-motor awareness and a reconnection with primal, physical skills.
Because of the swing’s efficiency, short increments of intense training quickly pay off (especially on a tight schedule). If the kettlebell intrigues you, I suggest starting slowly with a qualified professional. Instructors certified by the Russian Kettlebell Challenge provide beginner drills and teach safe variations. As training intensity increases, layers of sedentary adaptions will peel away leaving you feeling rebalanced, strong and energized.