Kettlebell fundamentals part 3 of 4 – The single handed KB swing
Editor’s note: this is part 3 of 4 in the kettlebell fundamental series. If you missed parts 1 and 2, you can check them out here:
Welcome back to my kettlebell fundamentals series! In week 1 we covered the rack position, and then moved on to the two handed swing. This week we will be progressing on to the single arm kettlebell swing.
The basic fundamentals of the two handed and single handed kettlebell swing are very similar. So let’s start by recapping the basics:
- Start feet shoulder width apart, keep a neutral spine and hinge forward at the hips
- Start by hiking the kettlebell back, loading the glutes/hamstrings
- Explosively drive the hips forward, by squeezing the glutes, and extending the hip
- Keep shoulders pulled down and back, do not use your arms to lift the kettlebell, kettlebell should feel weightless at the top of the movement, just like its floating there.
(Two handed kettlebell swing. Top photo: Upright position. Bottom Photo: Hinged position)
The Single handed Swing
Those are the basic steps that apply to both the two handed and single handed swing. When performing the single handed swing there are a couple extra factors to consider:
- The free arm should swing alongside the kettlebell.
- Avoid keeping the free hand on the hip, resting on the thigh, or hanging loosely at your side, follow the movement of the kettlebell
- Keep the shoulders square, avoid rotating/twisting the torso Wrist position can vary, but i prefer to have the thumb pointed inwards, at the bottom of the movement
(Be sure to swing the free arm alongside the kettlebell)
Once you have become proficient in the single handed swing you can step up the complexity, by alternating hands each rep. This is a fairly easy progression to perform. The mechanics of the swing are the exact same, the main consideration is when to make the switch. The kettlebell swing should change hand at the top of the movement. There are 2 recommended methods to performing the switch; either going palm facing down, and switching hand over hand, or rotating the kettlebell during the up swing and switching palm to palm. The method i prefer is palm to palm, although it does take a little more practice to get the timing right to keep a fluid motion. The key to performing the alternating kettlebell swing is making sure to follow the motion of the kettlebell with the free arm.
Things to Consider
Remember that the goal of this exercise is to hinge, and drive through the hips. Here are some key points to remember while you work through the swing:
- Keep the core tight, and the spine in nice neutral alignment.
- At the Bottom of the movement the hips should be behind the centerline of the body
- At the top you should be standing in a nice upright position, with glutes engaged – Do not lean back
- Remember that the power comes from the hips, and the movement we are looking for is a hinge, not a squat
- Always follow the movement of the kettlebell with your free hand
We have now gone over the rack position, the two handed kettlebell swing, and the one handed kettlebell swing. In my next article we will cover the kettlebell clean, which is an important exercise that opens the door to many more kettlebell exercises. I will also touch on how you can tie these exercises together to make a efficient, challenging and fun kettlebell workout!