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BREAK IT DOWN: The Kettlebell Swing

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– Fitness Tips –

Master this dynamic move to build full-body strength and power.

The swing is the classic kettlebell exercise. It’s a ballistic move that builds full-body strength as well as explosive power, working the posterior chain — the muscles in your back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves — as well as the upper body, namely your lats, forearms, and hands.

At the same time, it’s a conditioning tool, improving cardiovascular capacity and burning fat.

Moreover, a well-executed swing enhances body awareness and improves core stability.

Despite its benefits, the dynamic movement can be intimidating for newcomers. Even for seasoned exercisers, it’s easy to succumb to common pitfalls that make the swing ineffective or even painful, particularly through the lower back.

The key is to remember that you — not the weight ­— are the master. You swing the kettlebell; the weight does not swing you.

These tips can help you swing more effectively.

1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and a kettlebell 1 to 2 feet in front of you. Hinge at the hips to reach down and grasp the kettlebell.

2. Tip the kettlebell handle toward you. With your core engaged and lower back flat, quickly “hike” the kettlebell backward, high between your legs.

Tip: Engage your lats once the kettlebell reaches its apex to push it back between your legs. Repeat, then “park” the weight in front of you with control.

Tip: In the hike position, make sure the triangle shape formed by the kettlebell’s handle and horns is completely above knee height.

3. Reverse the movement by forcefully driving your hips forward. Contract your glutes to come to standing as the kettlebell swings out in front of you.

Tip: Open your hips completely, but don’t throw your shoulders back behind your hips. Imagine that the top position is a perfectly stable standing plank.

Tip: At its highest position, the kettlebell should feel weightless because of the power generated by your hips.

Tip: Make sure you can gaze over the kettlebell; do not try to swing it higher than your nose.

4. Engage your lats once the kettlebell reaches its apex to push it back between your legs. Repeat, then “park” the weight in front of you with control.

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Health & Fitness

Which Type of Butter Should You Choose?

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Which butter is better? Here are five varieties to consider.

  1. Organic butter offers more healing omega-3 fatty acids than other butters. And it’s less likely to have high levels of toxins, which can accumulate in an animal’s fatty tissues.
  2. Grassfed butter delivers more beta-carotene and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant, and CLA can help improve body composition and reduce cardiovascular-disease risk. Some studies also show CLA may help protect against cancer.
  3. Cultured butter is slightly fermented or aged. “Fermenting butter increases the amount of butyrate,” says nutritionist Liz Lipski, PhD, which is a win for gut health. It also has a slightly tangy flavor that many people enjoy.
  4. Unsalted butter is largely a matter of taste preference compared with salted butter. Like butter, salt carries its own stigma when it comes to heart health — one that has been debunked in recent years. (For more on concerns about sodium, see “Is Salt Bad for You — Or Not?”.)
  5. Ghee is a clarified butter in which the milk has been heated and the solids skimmed off. It can be used in all the same ways as butter, and because the solids have been removed, it is often more digestible for people who don’t tolerate casein or lactose. It contains the same nutrients as butter, including butyrate. Ghee is stable at room temperature, making it a good option for meals on the go or while camping. (For a tasty recipe for infused ghee, visit “Infused Ghee”.)

This article originally appeared as “Butter Up” in “Everything’s Better With Butter” in the January/February 2021 issue of Experience Life.

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