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6 Steps To Performing Your First Kettlebell Swing

Why do the kettlebell Swing? 

The classic Russian Kettlebell Swing is a is a fundamental exercise that most people should do. It’s an explosive and natural expression of hip extension, a key portion of your vertical leap, your sprinter’s stride, glute & hamstring development and helping us stay upright as we age.

When programmed properly and executed with proper form the Kettlebell Swing can be one of your best bang for your buck exercises especially in this day & age where people are not going to commercial gyms and have limited equipment at home for working out.

The purpose of this article is to go over steps to help you perform the kettlebell swing with proper form so you don’t hurt yourself.

Now, lets dive into 6 steps to help you execute a great kettlebell swing.

6 Steps to help you perform a kettlebell swing
Step #1: Master the hip hinge

Performing the hip hinge is the foundation for executing a kettlebell swing.

Main cues:

  1. Use a dowel rod or broomstick to help you understand the concept of a neutral spine
  2. The dowel rod must be in contact with your head, in between the shoulder blades, and lower back
  3. Hinge at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine
  4. Brace the core throughout the entire movement
  5. Stand up all the way and cramp up your butt cheeks
Step #2: Kettlebell hike

As the name implies, hike the kettlebell like a center hiking a football.

Main cues:

  1. Grasp KB handle with both hands & tilt the KB towards you so it becomes an extension of your arm
  2. Pack the shoulders down and back (think shoulders away from the ears)
  3. Maintain shoulders above the hips and hips above the knees
  4. Hike the KB toward your hips
  5. Aim for getting your forearms right up against the top your groin
  6. Inhale through nostrils as the kettlebell comes in & exhale through pursed lips as the kettlebell returns to the floor
Step #3: Kettlebell shadow swing

Time to use your imagination! You will perform the entire movement as if you had a kettlebell in your hand.

Main cues:

  1. Hike the kettlebell properly.
  2. Using the power generated from the hips, you will bring the arms up in front of you
  3. Stand up all the way by locking out your knees and squeezing your butt.
  4. Do not let the arms go above the chest.
  5. On the way down, bring your hips back while bringing forearms close to the top of your groin.
  6. Then set the kettlebell down safely on the floor.
Step #4: Kettlebell towel swing

Using the towel will allow you to understand the importance of using your hips to bring the kettlebell up and not your arms.

Main cues:

  1. Choke up on the towel & grip hard to prevent the towel from slipping out of your hands.
  2. Hike the kettlebell properly.
  3. Use your hips to bring up the kettlebell.
  4. If you use your arms too much, the kettlebell & towel will point down towards the floor.
  5. If executed properly, the towel & kettlebell should be almost parallel to the floor
Step #5: Dead stop swing

With the “Dead stop” swing, you will do one rep and reset to starting position every time.

Main cues:

  1. Start in the hike position with the shoulders above the hips, hips above the knees, and maintaining a neutral spine.
  2. Hike the kettlebell properly.
  3. Inhale as you receive the kettlebell & exhale as you stand up.
  4. Use your hips to bring up the kettlebell & stand up all the way up by locking out your knees & squeezing your glutes.
  5. Receive the kettlebell and set it down properly as you return to starting position.
Step #6: Continuous Swing 

Finally, it’s time to put it all together and start swinging.

Main cues:

  1. Start in the hike position with the shoulders above the hips, hips above the knees, and maintaining a neutral spine.
  2. Hike the kettlebell properly.
  3. Use your hips to bring up the kettlebell & stand up all the way up.
  4. Inhale as you receive the kettlebell & exhale as you stand up.
  5. Think of letting the kettlebell float at the top position.
Closing thoughts

Hopefully, these cues are simple and clear enough that you can give them a try. Try them out and let me know how they go for you.

Also, make sure that you have mastered the hip hinge as this is a critical component of the swing to ensure minimal risk of injury.

While I believe these are great starting points, they are just that—the start. If you want to get the most out of your kettlebell, you would benefit from getting a proper assessment from one of our coaches at Kaizo by clicking the FREE Movement assessment.

Looking to find out more about your movement? Schedule a FREE Movement assessment!