The ULTIMATE Guide to the Kettlebell Swing

JB double kettlebells

The benefits and appeal of kettlebell training are many and varied, and so, on occasion are the reservations people have about using them.

Many people’s first impression of the kettlebell are that it looks scary and dangerous.

Well looks can be deceptive as this could not be further from the truth.

Granted when you see someone throwing a huge ball of iron around the gym you could be forgiven for having this same misconception, but the truth is that it is actually one of the best forms of building true functional fitness and rehabilitating muscular imbalances and injuries.

Any piece of training equipment can be dangerous if not used with correct technique and understanding all of its training principles.

Any form of training is only as good the person using it or teaching it.

Yes a kettlebell needs to be treated with the utmost respect as it does place demands on the body that other forms of training do not.

The Kettlebell swing could be the king of the kettlebell exercises. It is usually the first pattern taught to new lifters after squat and deadlift show no problems and people can move correctly with loading at the hips.

Unfortunately so many so called "Kettlebell Experts" are teaching it ALL wrong, so wrong in fact that as a kettlebell teacher myself it gives me nightmares!!!

Never fear, JB is here to save the day.

Below you'll see how Kettlebell Swings are done incorrectly.

Why is it wrong?

A swing isn't a squat movement. By continuosly squatting it will burn out the quads (front of legs) very quickly (The quads are not designed for endurance)

On the swing through the kettlebell is also lifted into an overhead position, the bell shouldn't need lifted if swung correctly. More on that soon.

Ultimately this is a bad way to swing a Kettlebell if you want the best out of training with a kettlebell not only that its an injury waiting to happen.

Check the video below to see what I mean, watch how low the squat goes and how i'm lifting the bell over head.

How to swing a Kettlebell Properly

OK so now you know how NOT to do it i'm going to take you through the Kettlebell Swing as it should be done so that you have the basics to start your kettlebell journey off on the right foot. Are you ready?

Before you even start

- Ensure your training area is ‘safe’

- Perform a warm up

Start position/ Set up:

- Feet shoulder width apart, neutral spine

- Place two hands on the kettlebell handle and hold in front of hips

start of swing

How to execute the swing:

- Drive/Push hips backwards (Partial bend in the knee NOT a squat), Kettlebell between thighs (The best advice here is to feel it in the hamstrings. Try this drill to get it right. Stand with your back to a wall, take a short step forwards, then sit back and hit the wall with your bum – obviously without the kettlebell! This pattern ensures you load the hamstrings, flex at the hips and use the posterior chain to accelerate the kettlebell rather than a squat pattern.)

- Drive feet into the ground ‘gripping’ floor with the toes

- Inhale and brace creating abdominal pressure

- When point of transformation is reached snap hips forward contracting the glutes

- Kettlebell is propelled forward at snap to approximately shoulder height

- Arms should have a relaxed tension and the shoulder should be ‘sucked’ into the joint

Key Coaching Points