Why do your elbows look bent at the top of the swing? Shouldn’t they be straight?
No. The elbows shouldn’t be actively straightened during swings. Neither should they be actively bent.
The elbows should be RELAXED during swings.
My elbows might seem bent at the top of the swing because they’re actually relaxed, and since the KB is floating weightless and doesn’t pull my arm forward, the elbow isn’t locked out. It’s passively slightly bent because there’s no pressure on it to fully straighten.
Taming the arc of the KB means I can relax my grip at the top of the swing, and let go of the handle momentarily, while the KB just stays in the air waiting for me, not moving, not flying forward.
This relaxation of the grip allows me to rest my forearm at the top of every single rep, which saves forearm strength for when it matters aka at the bottom of the swing when the kettlebell is actually pulling on the arm. At that time the elbow will passively straighten, without my doing anything.
This ability to rest my grip at the top of every single rep allows me to swing a heavy kettlebell such as a 32kg, one handed, while being a small 55kg female with tiny hands. This technique will allow you to swing even better if you’re bigger than me or have larger hands.
If my elbow was completely straight, I’d know that Kettlebell’s arc hasn’t been tamed, which means the kettlebell is still pulling on my arm at the top of the swing. This necessitates me gripping the handle throughout the entire swing, not able to rest the forearm. This will exhaust my grip and I won’t be able to swing a heavy kettlebell efficiently.
So, the passive bending of the elbow is a side-effect of the relaxation of the arm and a successful taming of the KB’s arc so it’s floating weightless. This allows you to relax the grip at the top, and thus swing a heavy kettlebell efficiently.
NOTE: at the bottom of the swing, the Kettlebell pulls down on the arm, so the elbow naturally straightens. Because it’s still relaxed. There’s no tensing of the elbow during the swing at all. Bending the elbow at the bottom of the swing increases the risk off tendon damage.