Mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing

Mark Reifkind; Tracy Reifkind
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Instructional / How To Videos , Kettlebell

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I am a high intermediate exerciser who began using kettlebells about two years ago. My only instruction has been through use of videos, both DVDs and online instructional clips. Although in general, I felt fairly confident about basic skills, I thought that the only way to become more competent and advanced in kettlebells was to was to expose myself to a truly thorough instructional video such as this one.

MASTERING THE HARDSTYLE KETTLEBELL SWING is a two-disc set featuring Mark Reifkind, Master RKC, and his wife, Tracy Reifkind, a RKC trainer. In the first disc, Mark serves as the chief instructor, completely breaking down various principles of the swing while Tracy provides additional information and often demonstrates. Disc 2 features two short swing workouts, both led by Tracy. I have provided additional information for each disc below (times are approximate).

*Introduction (5m). Talks about kettlebell training and mentions how the swing was found to burn 20 calories per minute.
*Neutral Spine/Hip Hinge (6.5m). Breaks down the difference between a squat and the hip hinge needed for swings.
*Hinge Corrections (9.75m). Demonstrates use of a reclined leg stretch with a unique breath pattern as well us upward facing dog to get the feel of the hip hinge.
*Silverback Dead Lift (12m). Shows how to lower down to the kettlebell; also makes starting weight recommendations for women (18 lbs or 8 kg).
*Diaphragmatic Breathing (10.5). Demonstrates technique, including breath holds.
*Low Hover to Pendulum Swing (8m). Focuses on how to work to activate the lat muscles with the kettlebell low.
*High Hover to Pendulum Swing (4.5m). Practices swinging with the kettlebell above the knees.
*Hike Pass (11.5m). Works on a back swing emphasis.
*Hike Swing Park (6.5m). Teaches a single repetition of the swing.
*Parallel to Floor (8m). Demonstrates how to stop the swing in a parallel position and also offers relaxation drills.
*The Plank (6.5m). Provides instruction on moving from elbow plank to a static hold, activating the lats, raising into a high push-up, and performing scapular push-ups.
*One-Arm Swing (6.75m). Introduces the one-arm swing.
*Touch the Handle (8.75m). Teaches tapping the kettlebell handle with the opposite hand during the one-arm swing.
*Hand-to-Hand Swing (9m). Introduces use of ballistic movement.
*Taming the Arc (3m). Demonstrates the swing as a pendulum and the importance of maintaining a straight arm.
*Hip Flexor Stretches (3.75m). Teaches static stretching in a kneeling lunge position and prone bridge with toes up.
*Face the Wall Squat (2m). Shows how to practice maintaining a back arch by squatting with face to the wall.

*Workout 1 (39m)--For the first workout, Tracy is teaching, and she is joined by both Mark and her "best friend," Fawn Friday, a Level 2 RKC instructor. This workout moves slowly, as there is A LOT of rehash of the instructional portion--Tracy is gradually performing additional swings, but she is reviewing each concept as she does so.
*Workout 2 (26m)--Tracy leads this workout, again joined by Fawn. She calls this routine "swing training," with the goal of building up to equal work to equal rest. Fawn begins following this pattern immediately (e.g., 20 swings, 20 seconds rest), but Tracy works up to it, starting with 10 swings and adding two at a time until 15, then one at a time. She also includes one-hand swings in this workout, and she concludes with another set of two-hand swings.

For its stated purpose--i.e., "mastering" the swing--this is an excellent instructional set. Mark and Tracy are both very pleasant (if a little bland, especially give the plain white set), with Tracy showing more of a sense of humor. I did find them to get a little wordy at times; obviously, they have a lot of knowledge and wanted to share this with viewers, but given the DVD format, it may have been appropriate to be a bit more focused. Similarly, although it was nice to have actual workouts included in this DVD set, there was a bit too much chatter in them (especially the first one), and they lacked a warm-up or cool-down, which made them feel incomplete.

Despite these issues, I would not hesitate to recommend this DVD set to anyone wanting in-depth instruction on swing technique.

Instructor Comments:
I liked both Mark and Tracy; both are obviously extremely knowledgeable. Mark is a bit more serious in his delivery, whereas Tracy will crack the occasional joke (although still with a pretty straight face!). I do wish that they had focused a little more on practice rather than information, but overall, I think they did an excellent job.

Beth C (aka toaster)