How to perform a Kettlebell Swing

The Kettlebell Swing helps to strengthen your core and hips while encouraging full body utilization and coordination. Proper technique of this exercise allows for safe, high repetition sets that will improve work capacity, functional explosiveness, and muscular endurance.

Here are a few key points to remember while performing a kettlebell swing.

  • The Swing is a Hinge, Not a Squat: There are several variations of the Kettlebell Swing, but the standard form of the exercise is a hinge at the hips, not a squat. If you aren’t feeling a stretch in your hamstrings as you perform each repetition, you are probably bending at the knees and squatting rather than hinging at the hips and activating your posterior chain. Keep a tight core, straight back, and get your hips behind your centerline.

  • The Swing is Explosive, Not Passive: The primary benefit of the Kettlebell Swing is the ability to use a ballistic, explosive movement with your hips to build core strength and conditioning. Again, while there are variations the standard form requires an explosive hip “snap” to drive the weight forward. If your hips aren’t moving behind your centerline, chances are that you are literally just swinging the kettlebell like a pendulum between your legs. This could conceivably build some hook grip/forearm conditioning, but there is no way you’re improving your core strength like you should be with the Swing. Move those hips and explode forward!

  • The Core is Engaged, No Excessive Hyperextension or Rounded Back: A loose core makes for a sloppy Kettlebell Swing and puts stress on your spine. Keep  your core tight throughout the exercise as if bracing for a punch. Imagine that your upper body is in a plank position with your torso hinging on your hips. This keeps your spine in the proper position and makes your glutes, not your lower back, do the majority of work. Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core before starting the exercise. Maintain these form cues throughout the entire set.
  • The Kettlebell Gets as High as Your Hip Explosiveness: Ideally the kettlebell and your arms end up parallel to the ground, but the height is really determined by how explosive you are with your hip snap. If that hip snap only gets the kettlebell part way to a parallel position with the ground, so be it. Remember, trying to muscle through the movement by engaging your deltoids and upper body (essentially performing a front raise) is not the point of the exercise, explosive hip/core action is. Don’t sacrifice form to meet some “objective” that proper form dictates.