The Kettlebell Swing: The fundamental ballistic movement.

From this movement and it’s variations, all other ballistic movements originate. Master this exercise and all other ballistic moves will follow. The swing will improve your snatch, clean and high pull.

Some consider this move to be the premium back exercise, working the whole musculature of the back, hips and thighs. Although, if you do enough heavy swings, you’ll certainly feel it in your abdominals and legs the next day!

Set up:

Set the kettlebell around 20 to 30 cm in front of your feet.

Bending from your hips like a hinge, place your hands on the kettlebell handle. Being a competition kettlebell, it is designed for one hand use, so don’t be surprised if your little fingers fall outside the handle. Those with paws for hands may find one or two fingers on the outside.

Hike the kettlebell back between your legs, like you see in American football.

Then explode through the hips, as though you’re jumping but nailed to the ground

Push your heels down as though you’re pushing through the floor, bringing your hips forward until your body forms a straight line from head to toe.

Channel your energy through the kettlebell, but don’t let it go. It should feel like yours tensing the muscles in the front of your body to stop the weight, thinking pulling your kneecaps into your hips. Brace your abdominals and keep your shoulders back.

The kettlebell should be around chest height or a little above, at the top of the movement. It will hang momentarily, then relax and let it flow back down between your legs. At the bottom of the moment, the kettlebell should be close to your crotch. Use the energy created for the next swing.

Repeat for desired reps

The start of the swing


The backswing


The apex of the swing


Things to look for and how to fix:

Pain and discomfort in the lower back:

If you feel excessive soreness here, you are doing the exercise wrong. Hinge at the hips, don’t be tempted to squat the weight down.

The kettlebell is pulling your shoulders from their sockets

Pull your shoulders into the joint. Hold the shoulders back and don’t let the weight of the kettlebell pull your arms forward.

You should try to create two straight lines in your body at the top of the swing. As Pavel noted in ‘Enter the Kettlebell’, your arms and kettlebell should form a straight line, and your legs and upper body should form a straight line.


Things to remember:

Keep the weight on your heels.

Your arms are just hooks, they are not driving the weight at all

Use power breathing in the movement.



Two arm kettlebell swing Giveroy Sports style

One arm kettlebell swing

Two kettlebell swings

Hand to hand kettlebell swing