How to do the kettlebell swing

kettlebell swing instructional

How to perform the kettlebell swing exercise


The kettlebell swing is the bread and butter of all kettlebell workouts, and makes for a intense and exhilarating workout, kettlebell swings help develop strong posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back, shoulders) muscles and boosts cardio vascular endurance.

If there’s one technique that you had to learn, it would be the kettlebell swing.

The kettlebell swing trains all the muscles that you would normally use for a vertical leap, except you transfer the explosive force onto the kettlebell to move it up. The kettlebell is important as it allows you to do the exercise over several repetitions and progressively increase the load, to improve your work capacity.

Because of this the kettlebell swing is a fantastic workout for improving your broad jump and vertical jump as well as your sprint, it is also a fantastic exercise to improve and assist your squat and deadlift maximum lifts as well.

start of kettlebell swing, deadlift To begin you take a wide stance, with your feet roughly 1.5 times your shoulder width, and toes pointing slightly outwards, this is important to make space for for the kettlebell to swing backwards and the wide stance gives you stability during the upper portion of the lift.Squat down with your back completely straight (do not confuse this with vertical back), and lift up up the weight, [remember to keep your head straight and look across the room while you perform the exercise], squat up and stand erect with your shoulders back. kettlebell swing, neutral position


kettlebell swing, two handed hike pass To begin the movement of the kettlebell, you should squat down (pushing your hips back) until the kettlebell is well clear of your groin,and flick the kettlebell back between your legs,this is the only time you use your arms to push the weight across,to begin the momentum,the arms should not move the weight during the swing.At this point in the swing, you should have your forearms push up against your groin and the kettlebell extending out behind you. After the kettlebell reaches it’s peak decline, you will simultaneously squat up and thrust your pelvis forward


kettlebell swing high position Which will cause your back to righten vertically which causes the kettlebell to propel forward. You should aim reach chest height. On the right, this is the optimal height you want the kettlebell to be in for the Russian kettlebell swing, for beginners this is the preferred heightFor repetitions you simply let the kettlebell fall back into it’s arc, while you hold the bell with your extended arms at all times, as the kettlebell lowers, you squat down slightly with your hips back and repeat from


The target repetition for this exercise is 20, but when you first begin aim for 30 repetitions with a light weight in order to learn the technique

Note: during the swing, you do not use your arms to lift up the weight, the swing is not mean to work your arms, the arms simple role is to act as the carrier, and bit like a rope hanging a pendulum and does not use any force of it’s own.



kettlebell swing, one handed hike pass Single handed Swing: The single handed swing is a good exercise to do to taget different muscle groups on your back as your body rotates a little to balance the weight. The single handed swing is easy to do after your have mastered the double swing, but remember that you will need to use your hands to align the weight in the centre so it does not bang into your thigh. one handed kettlebell swing

Swapping hands: When doing the single handed swing it’s possible to change hands mid swing, when the kettlebell swings up at the highest point, it will for a brief moment pause before it swings back down again, during the peak, you can change hands, but remember to practice this outdoors on grass beforehand


kettlebell rope swing Rope swing: Athletes from weight training background have a tough time allowing their arms be a passive driver in an exercise, so tend to lat raise or lift up the kettlebell with their arms. A good technique to check yourself for this is to tie a short towel or rope around the kettlebell, and hold either end. Now when you swing the rope/towel should be in line with your arms if you’re swinging correctly, if the rope is not aligned it means you’re doing the exercise wrong. Make sure the rope isn’t too long that the kettlebell bangs onto the ground.


8 comments to How to do the kettlebell swing

  • Brandon Carroll

    Hi there great article I was taught to have a pigeon toe stance with knees pushed out to activate glutes more is this a safe technique also whats the best way of getting a straight back.

    • Karim

      Great question Brandon, your feet should be shoulder width apart and toes pointing out slightly (knees will follow the cue from the toes). Looking down, your right foot would be in the 1 o’clock position, and the left foot should be in the 11 o’clock position.

      With regards to keeping a straight back, to keep a straight back the ‘metal cue’ you need to follow is to keep your shoulders back, and your chest puffed out. Following these cues will help keep your back straight. If you want exact detailed instructions with video proof the Enter The Kettlebell DVD and Book is the best guide.

  • […] Kettlebell Swings (see picture for demonstration). This site also gives more detailed form […]

  • Pam

    I have been doing kettlebell workouts for almost 8 months and I love the results it really has toned my body. I stared eating healthier and working out and what a difference it makes.

  • skiman

    I am 57 and have been doing 50 lb kettlebell swings for 2 years now..started at 25 swings and gradually worked up to over 100 now as part of a 3x per week workout involving weights, paletes, kb swings, jump rope, 1.5 mile runs and occasionally longer runs @5 -7 mi and road bike circuits. The swings are tough and really are the best and hardest part of my workout that also produce noticable results. I have much stronger legs and a strong core now which have really helped with my endurance alpine skiing. Got the idea from the 4 hour body.. if all you had time for after warming up was the KB swings…it is all you really need to stay in shape! Start slow and work up to more swings as your fitness level improves.

  • Roger

    I bought a 24 kg and a 15 kg… love swinging them .. but the 24 kg feels too heavy at this stage. I’m 74 kg and 67 years old, but been body building for the past 3 years, so I’m quite strong, but just not heavy. I can swing the 24 kg for 30 reps but it gasses me. Love the exercise.

  • I’m 76 years young, and had a Heart Attack on 12/12/12. Two things were out of balance at the time. My Thyroid/TSH reading was through the Roof, and my Cholesterol Reading was to low @ 130. I’ve changed both things through Diet, and exercise. Prior to my Heart Attack I’d experienced a small Kettlebell Training Session. I’ve been riding a Stationary Bike with variable resistance for close to 2 years every other day, but find that due to my exercise position my Breathing has become more shallow. This brings me back to wanting to become involved with the Swing to change that. I have 10, 20, and 30Lb Kettlebells. I have been, for only a short time, Swinging the 30lb Bell with both hands, and the 20lb Bell with one hand. I do 10 Reps and then rest briefly, then 10 more. Oh yes, I stand 6′ 2″, and weigh 184lbs. I weighed 225 at the time of my Heart Attack. Can you offer any further suggestions please?

  • Bob

    I have been using the Kettlebell swing now for 1 month. It is definitely the hardest part of my workout. I started with a 50lb bell, I swing it 20 times and do 8 repetitions allowing my heart rate to come down for 60 seconds between sets. I have recently moved up to a 70 lb Bell, using the same routine, there is a big difference in the degree of difficulty. I’m 70 years old and i feel great. I eat mainly organic foods, lots of green Juicing and meat.
    I feel the kettlebell is by far the best part of my workout.

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