5 Explosive Rotational Swings for Strength and Power

August 13, 2016 by VAHVA Fitness

Rotational strength exercises with a kettlebell or a dumbbell to develop explosive strength in the rotation of the hips and core!

These rotation drills are for intermediate and advanced only. If you play hockey, floorball, golf, do martial arts or practice movement then these drills will improve your performance in a dramatic fashion.

Before you start to do explosive rotation exercises, it's recommended that you first develop sufficient levels of mobility in your hips and core:

The rotational drills demonstrated in the video are a phenomenal way to develop that explosive strength in the hips and core you need to throw powerful kicks, punches or hit very hard with a bat or a stick.

Although these exercises may look dangerous, they actually aren't (IF you have enough of the spinal rotational mobility).

This is due to the fact that although there is a heavy acceleration, there is also a deceleration in the end of the repetition.

This means you will slow down the weight before the opposite end and then bounce it back softly which prevents the weight from causing any damage. Many people actually feel these exercises less in their joints than controlled pull ups!

Building Rotational Strength

Using a kettlebell is the most recommended way, because the weight distribution of the kettlebell allows the most natural swing. You can also use a dumbbell, but it won't be as comfortable as the kettlebell and dumbbells may also hurt your wrists.

With these rotation drills, focus on doing quality explosive repetitions. Use light weights and stop when you feel like the repetitions lose their "power".

Atlas Swing

atlas swings for explosive hip development

Atlas swing is a phenomenal exercise where you swing the weight from side to side in the front of your body. Take a normal stance with your legs.

You will develop all the muscles of the lower body, abs and obliques and also the shoulders.

You can also do 1-arm atlas swings. This exercise is similar to the regular atlas swing except the shoulder muscles (anterior and lateral deltoids) of the swinging arm are worked more heavily. 

Atlas swings are very similar to the swinging motions you do when you play golf or hockey, except here you are using more external resistance. This makes it a fantastic drill for the given sports.

Side Swing

side swing for rotation strength
side kettlebell swing for sports

Side swing is a great swing variation where you start the movement from one side and then swing the kettlebell to the front. Take an uneven stance.

Side swing will primarily target the obliques and abs, but your lower back is also worked to some degree. 

Your glutes and hamstrings will also be working hard because in the beginning you flex your hips and then extend them.

The more you bend over in the beginning and the more you arch your back in the end, will also determine how much of erector spinae and middle back muscles you are utilizing.

You can also do this exercise with one arm to alter the exercise and focus more on one arm at the time.

Bent-over Swing

explosive rotational strength with a kettlebell rotation

You do the bent-over swing by bending over and then swinging the weight explosively from side to side.

This swing variation will target the obliques and the lower back muscles (especially around the spine such as the erector spinae) incredibly well.

Your abs need to support your body the entire duration of the set as well.

Be careful with this one and start light. You can bend over just a little bit or bend over to 90 degree angle. It's good to try both because the stimulus will be slightly different.

High Rotation

high rotation for core strength

In the high rotation you lean back a bit, keep your arms close to your body and swing the weight from side to side. Take a normal stance.

This exercise is great for the core and you will develop the internal and external obliques in addition to the lower back muscles.

Expect it to burn in your obliques and to feel it very nicely in the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum muscles!

Horizontal Swing

one arm rotation swing for power

Horizontal swing is another great full body rotation drill and it will work both the core and hips very nicely.

The biggest difference compared to the atlas swing is that the center of mass is completely different. Instead of going up and down like in the atlas swing, the weight mainly travels horizontally around your body.

In addition to working the core and hip muscles, this will also open up your shoulders, lats, teres major and erector spinae muscles.

The horizontal swing can also be done with one or two kettlebells.

I wish you learned that swings can go a lot further than just the regular kettlebell swings.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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