The Basic 3 Kettlebell Moves: The Swing

May 27, 2015

The kettlebell swing is the cornerstone of kettlebell exercises.  Learn a good swing and the sky's the limit!

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Not only does it work the core, hamstrings, quads, glutes and more, it is also a building block for learning the popular (swing) Clean and Snatch.

Before learning the swing, it's a good idea to get familiar with the Deadlift and Squat.  Two fundamental exercises and essential for safely picking and getting used to working with your kettlebell.   Check out Claire Donahoe's demo of the Swing and Coach Jenn's video on the Pendulum Swing used for kettlebell competition.  

  • Dead lift the kettlebell to standing position.
  • Swing the kettlebell back and between your legs, as if hike passing a football.
  • Remember to keep your head in a neutral position (in line with your spine) and arms straight. 
  • With a powerful hip extension, drive forward the kettlebell and swing to chest level or just above.  If using the Portable Kettlebell remember to maintain tension on the handle and avoiding slack. 
  • Your legs and hips do most of the work. Think of your hands and arms as merely attachments between your body and the PKB.
  • Once the kettlebell reaches the top of the arc, allow gravity to take control, using flexion of the hips to control the downward arc and not your back or arms. 
  • The downward swing should follow the same path as the upward swing, reaching the start position between your legs before initiating the next rep.

For the beginner, swinging the kettlebell to waist or chest height should be fine.  Remember that the PKB's flexible handle can limit the height of the swing.

If you swing to eye-level or higher, the tension on the webbing straps may slacken, causing the PKB to slightly bump against your fists before resuming it's downward arc.  It's all about timing, you'll get it with practice!

Remember: The swing should be an explosive but fluid motion. If you remember to use all the basic postures and movements covered so far, the swing should feel natural!  

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